Capital of the ancient diocese, kingdom and later duchy of Cornouaille, Quimper is the oldest city in Brittany. Its first bishop, St Corentin, is said to have come with the first Bretons across the English Channel at some point between the fourth and seventh centuries.

Still “the charming little place” known to Flaubert, Quimper takes at most half an hour to cross on foot. Though relaxed, it’s active enough to have the bars and atmosphere to make it worth going out café-crawling. The word “kemper” denotes the junction of the two rivers, the Steir and the Odet, around which lie the cobbled streets (now mainly pedestrianized) of the medieval quarter. To the east of the Gothic cathedral, towering over place St-Corentin, ancient half-timbered buildings hold lively shops and cafés.

With no great pressure to rush around monuments or museums, the most enjoyable option may be to take a boat and drift down the Odet, “the prettiest river in France”, to the open sea at Bénodet. Overlooking all is tree-covered Mont Frugy; climb to its 87m peak for good views over the city.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

France features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Paris

An expert’s guide: the best area to stay in Paris

All the clichés about Paris are true – stylish, romantic, glamorous and utterly compelling – yet it retains surprises that continue to delight even the mos…

26 Sep 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

7 reasons why Lyon should be your next European weekend break

The ingredients for a great European weekend break are simple. You’ll need a walkable city centre, a handful of excellent restaurants, some cool bars, afforda…

26 Aug 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
22 incredible pictures of Corsica

22 incredible pictures of Corsica

Just off the south of France, and closer to the coast of Italy, the small, mountainous island of Corsica lies in wait for the three million tourists that visit …

14 Jul 2016 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month