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Trail of Gauguin and the Pont-Aven School of painting

Gauguin and the school of painters in Pont-Aven

Open your eyes to the colours of Finistère! Discover this famous land, inspiration for many painters...

Finistère, its landscapes and its colours have inspired painters for a long time. From the 19th century, painters chose to spend time in various places (such as Pont-Aven, the most famous one, or Le Pouldu, Châteauneuf-du-Faou...) to paint the beauties of the region. From the 1860s, Pont-Aven was, for example, home to several American painters.

The Pont Aven School of Painting

In 1886, Gauguin went far away from Paris, which he found suffocating, and headed off in search of purity and sincerity. Brittany seemed to be the perfect place in which to find inspiration. At very low cost, Brittany was at the end of the railway line, offering a cultural change of scene with its different language, traditional costumes, and Catholic fervour flavoured with folklore and superstition.

Under his influence, the small town of Pont-Aven in Finistère soon became one of the most important artistic centres in France.A group of young men gathered around Gauguin, including Paul Sérusier, Maurice Denis, Émile Bernard. Many of these artists were in search of fresh ideas and a new concept of art: large areas of bright colour, simplified contours and forms; the style of Pont-Aven soon established itself and distinguished itself as something wonderfully different.

Finistère is still inspiring!

Today, you can discover the magical spots that inspired many famous painters and admire their work in museums. Numerous artists show their work in Finistère's art galleries, especially in Pont-Aven, a paradise for art lovers.

Must-see museums
  • Fine art museum of Brest: Pont-aven school of painting, Nabis (Paul Sérusier), etc.
  • Fine art museum of Quimper: Pont-Aven school of painting (Gauguin, Émile Bernard...), Nabis (Paul Sérusier, Maurice Denis...) etc.
  • Fine art museum of Pont-Aven : the first in the world dedicated to Pont-Aven school of painting.
The mythic places to go to
  • Bois d'Amour in Pont-Aven: that is where Gauguin gave its famous painting lesson to Paul Sérusier: ‘How do you see this tree? It’s green. Put some green, the most beautiful green, on your palette. And this shadow, rather blue? Don’t be afraid of painting it as blue as possible.’
  • Le Pouldu in Clohars-Carnoët
  • Châteauneuf-du-Faou

The Painters’ Trail

Follow in the footsteps of Gauguin, Marquet, Renoir, Redon and other lesser-known artists such as Cheffer and JJ Lemordant, to find the sites that fuelled their creativity.

Seven different trails are offered to help you explore the museums, sites and landscapes as well as the architecture, sacred heritage, towns and fishing ports that inspired so many great works:

  • Quimper, Vallée de L'Odet : Quimper centre and the banks of the River Odet, the chapel of Ty Mam Doué, the stone monument ‘Calvaire de Quilinen’ and the landscapes of the Stangala.
  • Baie de Douarnenez et Cap Sizun : Locronan, Douarnenez, Pointe du Van, Pointe du Raz, Audierne, Pont-Croix.
  • Pays Bigouden : Plozévet, Saint-Guénolé, Penmarc'h, Le Guilvinec, Lesconil, Loctudy, Pont-L'Abbé, Combrit, Sainte-Marine.
  • Bénodet, Baie de la Forêt, Concarneau: Bénodet, Fouesnant, La Forêt-Fouesnant, Concarneau, Trégunc.
  • Pont-Aven - Le Pouldu : Quimperlé, Querrien, Scaër, Bannalec, Le Pouldu, Doëlan, Moëlan-sur-mer, Merrien, Brigneau, Riec-sur-Bélon, Rosbras, Pont-Aven, Névez.
  • Crozon - Camaret : Saint-Anne-La-Palud, Crozon, Morgat, Camaret, Le Cap de la Chèvre, Roscanvel, Le Fret.
  • Leaving from Châteauneuf-du-Faou : visit the valleys of the Ellé and the Scorff, Trévarez, Châteauneuf-du-Faou, the Aulne Valley.

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Finistère trails

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