Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To Quimper by Church

Right. Historic background. In Brittany in the late 1500s and early 1600s there was a lot of money around, an economic boom based on linen, apparently. And some of that money got put into parish churches. There was a style, then, of giving a parish church a walled enclosure within which would customarily be certain elements (besides a church): a cemetery, an ossuary (where the dry bones of people were kept, after they were brought up from the cemetery to make room), often a decorated arch (for processions to go through), and usually a "calvary." The latter is the proper term for a grouping of sculpted figures including a crucifix, on a common base.

Lots of such parish church complexes were built and many remain with some or all of the 15xx art works intact. The tourist board has a signposted route to see them, and the guidebooks list several. Marian selected seven of what seemed like the most interesting ones and that was the route we ran today, going from Morlaix to our new base, Quimper.

(By the way, we asked at the hotel desk. The proper pronunciation of this town's name is cam pear. With a little fricative rasp on the final "r" of course. But not cam pay, and obviously never to rhyme with "whimper".)

So we visited seven churches packed full of amazing art. Sometimes bizarre and eerie, as religious art of that period can be, but always amazing. And took more than the usual number of pictures, and kept more than the usual percentage. And ended up more than usually dissatisfied with the job we did. And then it took longer even than usual to get fed some supper. (More on that in the wrap-up.) Point is, it's past 11pm and we're turning in without finishing the blog. Maybe catch up tomorrow. Here's a couple pics.


  1. Is the guy in the final photo with a skull in one hand and a couple of bones in the other an ossuarian doing his job?

  2. What is the large green area on the map that you passed through today after leaving Brest? Is it a national park? Is it a forest reserve?

    1. It's a "Natural Region" designation, an area of special natural and cultural interest. On our paper map, just a dashed green line around it. Not regulated like our national parks, but has voluntary policies controlling development.