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Quimper (Municipality, Finistère, France)


Last modified: 2023-09-09 by olivier touzeau
Keywords: finistere | quimper | ram | ermine | cornouaille |
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Flag of Quimper - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 30 November 2021

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Presentation of Quimper

Quimper (63,473 inhabitants ; 8,445 ha) is a commune and the prefecture of the Finistère department. It is the ancient capital of Cornouaille, and has a distinctive Breton Celtic character. Its name is the Breton word kemper, meaning "confluence". The town developed at the confluence of the rivers Steir and Odet.

Archaelogical studies have revealed that Quimper and its surroundings have been continuously inhabited. Neolithic potteries or the remains of a dolmen are evidence of an occupation between the 6th and 3rd millenium B.C. A small port town became established on the banks of the Odet river in the current quarter of Locmaria, in the first century of our era. The gallo-roman site took advantage of the tide coming up the ria from the rivermouth in order to develop commercial activities. This small flourishing merchant port was abandoned towards the end of the 3rd century, when the Roman empire underwent crisis. Regarding Quimper's origins, the myths have merged with the few historical accounts of the period. Dated 1235, Saint Corentin's 'la Vie' (the Life) attributes the town's foundation to Gradlon during the 5th or 6th century. King of the town of Ys, Gradlon gifted his castle situated at the confluence of the Odet to the hermit Corentin to build his cathedral. Historically, it is probable that the bishopric was founded during the Carolingian period. Archaeological searches have revealed that at the end of the 10th century, a genuine town plan formed around a new Romanesque cathedral.

Simultaneously a religious and political centre, the town was torn during the Middle Ages between the Duke's and Bishop's forces. With the attachment of Brittany to France in 1532, the rivalry between episcopal and ducal power continued but eased. An oligarchy of minor nobility and middle-class asserted itself. It provided a number of doctors, lawyers or sailors such as the Admiral de Kerguelen. These large families had private mansions built in the city and acquired country estates. Quimper numbered 9000 inhabitants at the end of the 17th century. The walls of the town, having lost their military use, were no longer maintained. Whilst the fortified entrances were demolished, the construction of new bridges improved traffic conditions. In 1762, a fire ravaged the wooden houses of rue K r on. Responsible for establishing a new building plan, the civil engineer Andr straightened the layout of the street and constructed stone-walled buildings. Following the turmoil of the revolutionary period there was a period of relative prosperity during the Consulate and the Empire. Quimper took advantage of the marine blockade of Brest by the British Navy. The small merchant port on the Odet became the depot of the wartime and Merchant Navy. But the peacetime of 1815 put an end to this intense activity.

During the 19th century, Quimper wanted to change the medieval layout which was the origin of the weak development of the town. The town centre was re-organised to facilitate access and open new roads. The town spread out onto both sides of the Odet riverbanks. The arrival of the railway in 1864 brought new industrial activities. The pottery found new outlets. The food-processing industries (canneries, ice factories) and other businesses occupied the new industrial estates
Between the World wars, new estates were built. Workers housing estates adjoined the industrial areas which rubbed shoulders with more elegant estates on the quaysides or in the Court district. The architect Olier Mordrel designed distinctively-styled buildings with new materials. Occupied by the Germans by 18 June 1940, Quimper - though spared the bombardments - suffered hardships, arrests and deportations. After the Normandy landings were declared, the Breton Resistance members liberated the town on 8 August 1944 after violent fighting. Following the Second World War, the baby-boom brought about a serious housing crisis. The 1960 fusion of Ergu -Armel, Kerfeunteun, Penhars and Quimper municipalities all together made Quimper much larger .

Quimper, from now on numbering 50,000 inhabitants, had large estates built in the Kermoysan district. The residential suburbs and business parks grew on the outskirts of the town. These changes turned the landscape and the identity of the surrounding old rural communities upside-down. From 1960 onwards transport developed via the building of new roads and the creation of bypasses and bridges. The Hippodrome industrial estate was created in 1962. In the 90's the Creac'h Gwen district welcomed the Quimper Cornouaille technopole (high-tech industrial R&D centre). Higher education developed with the opening of the Per Jakez Helias centre of West Brittany University (UBO) and the Asia Pacific Management School (ISUGA).

Source : Municipal website.

Olivier Touzeau, 30 November 2021

Flag of Quimper

The arms of Quimper are blazonned: Azure a ram passant Argent horned and unguled Or, the chief Ermine. The ram symbolizes Cornouaille, and the ermine spots Brittany.

The flag of Quimper is a banner of arms (photo, photo).

Olivier Touzeau, 30 November 2021

Flag of Quimper-Cornouaille Tourist office


Flag of Quimper-Cornouaille tourist office - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 30 November 2021

The flag of the Quimper-Cornouaille tourist office is white with logo, with a drawing of the town's founder, king Gradlon (photo, 2017). The tourist office operates for Quimper and all Cornouaille, from Audierne (west) to Quimperlé (east), from Locronan (north) to Le Guilvinec (south).

Ivan Sache, 14 October 2021

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