boite à outils

Step back in time in Morlaix

Don’t you love those moments when time stands still? You take a breath and feel the history and heritage of a place working its magic, putting everything into perspective... Take a peek into our timeless treasures and hidden histories and be inspired.

Timbered beauties

Perhaps our most famous heritage icons are the timbered Pondalez houses, unique to Morlaix. The wooden framework dates from the 1500s when wealthy linen merchants used their fortunes to build impressive homes, examples of which can still be seen in our town centre. One of these is part of Morlaix Museum so you can visit and admire at your leisure.

JPEG - 94.5 kb
maison à pondalez, morlaix, finistère, bretagne

There are two particular features that make these houses so distinctive: the inner courtyard called the ‘lanterne’ and the fact that each storey of the house extends further out than the last, creating an overhang on the ground floor. They are beautifully built and their inspiring architecture is still impressive today – it’s all in the framework, of course.

Explore by foot, by bike or by car

While in Morlaix, you can climb the many alleyways and tiny streets to discover the dizzy heights of history including the site of a former castle and our soaring viaduct, or hire a bike to head to the sea and other nearby towns.

Velodyssée, tour de manche à vélo, Bretagne

A picturesque ride along the coast takes you to Carantec, with its shipbuilding heritage, connections to the French Resistance and its maritime museum. Or, if you’re in Locquirec, there are plenty of legends and historic sites, not least the legend of a lost town, drowned by an exceptionally high tide. The wonderful remains of the Château du Guerrand in Plouégat-Guerrand transport you to another era, especially when you hear about its bloodthirsty owner who reformed to become something of a local hero.

Hidden gem: Guerlesquin

Never heard of Guerlesquin ? Pronounced Gair-less-kan, this modest market town is utterly fascinating. About 20 minutes east of Morlaix, tucked on the borders with the Côtes d’Armor, Guerlesquin is the only French town still with its symbols of the Old Regime: the church, the market halls and a prison. For most visitors, it’s the prison that’s the most fascinating. Dating from 1640, it’s relatively tiny, a square block with rounded turret corners, right in the centre of the marketplace. For details about visiting this bizarrely charming prison, ask the Tourist Office and take a peek at the town’s video (in french).

Step into the Crypt…

Brittany is famous for elaborate parish churches known as Enclos Paroissiaux, but the church at Lanmeur is sitting on another secret – literally! Follow the steps down under the church, and you’ll find a Romanesque crypt that is a rare example of this period, complete with sculptures, vaulted ceilings and an ancient fountain. Certainly not what you’d expect in this quiet spot…

JPEG - 113.4 kb
Crypte de St-Melar Lanmeur

Older than the pyramids

How about something seriously old? We’ve all heard the hype about the pyramids, but far closer and among far more picturesque surroundings you’ll find the Cairn de Barnénez. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the sparkling seas of Morlaix Bay, this stone burial chamber dates back to 5000BC and was only discovered in 1955. It stands 6 metres tall, around 25 metres wide and stretches for 75 metres along the grassy slope. It is open for visits and occasionally holds open days – to find out more, check online.

JPEG - 49.2 kb
cairn de Barnenez, baie de Morlaix, Bretagne

Chateau du Taureau, Brittany’s Alcatraz

We can’t talk about stepping back in time in Morlaix Bay without mentioning our very own Alcatraz,the Château du Taureau. This amazing island fortress is visible on the horizon for miles around, and was indeed a prison for many years. The great news is that you can take a boat across to visit the fortress, either from Carantec or Plougasnou and enjoy feeling stranded amidst some of Brittany’s best offshore views.

JPEG - 90.3 kb
chateau du taureau en Baie de Morlaix, Carantec, Plougasnou, Bretagne, Finistere, Brittany

Make your own history!
Don’t forget to share your historic holiday snaps with us on Twitter @VisitMorlaix or on Pinterest – we’d love to see them!