Carhaix-Plouguer, more commonly known as Carhaix, nestles in the heart of Brittany between the Black Mountains and Monts d'Arrée mountains and on the way to the Canal from Nantes to Brest. This dynamic city, which has managed to combine the advantages of the city with the pleasures of life in the countryside, is the symbol of a festive Brittany, between its traditional festivals and the famous Vieilles Charrues festival. Because this year again, the best of French-speaking and international music will be back in Finistère for one of the most popular events of the summer in France
A little history...
A crossroads city in central-western Brittany, Carhaix already had seven lanes in Roman times and thus showed its importance. With a geographical location such as its own, between the Monts d'Arrée and the Montagnes Noires, it is a true crossroads of three of the Breton departments (Finistère, Côtes-d'Armor and Morbihan). It is an ideal starting point to discover Brittany. Carhaix-Plouguer, which was called Vorgium, was already one of the most important cities in the Western Armorican region during the Gallo-Roman period. The section of a Roman aqueduct and the many remains that are currently being uncovered bear witness to this. Capital of Poher since the 10th century, the city became an important economic and commercial centre in the 17th and 18th centuries. This phenomenon was reinforced at the end of the 19th century with the installation of the Breton Network, a railway line. A Mallet locomotive is also installed on the station square to remember a prestigious past
Traditional village and Gallo-Roman aqueduct
To start your visit, you naturally head towards the hamlet of Petit-Carhaix. Around the Frout chapel, below Carhaix and on the banks of the Hyènes river, there are typical 17th and 18th century Breton houses. Among them is a house dating from 1652 while another one bears the professional mark of a saver. Originally, the village hosted artisanal activities traditionally relegated to the outskirts of towns due to unpleasant consequences related to their activity such as unpleasant smells. For example, there were tanneries, which were not dissatisfied because they found abundant water in the suburb of Petit-Carhaix (an essential element for the exercise of their profession). These remained in operation until the 1960s and today we can still see the various wooden buildings that were used to store hides.
Then we will have to take a look at the Gallo-Roman aqueduct in Vorgium. Considered one of the largest in Gaul, this aqueduct is 27 km long! However, as the crow flies, the distance between the city and the catchment was only 12 km... This excess of kilometres is explained by the obstacles that stood in the way of the construction of the aqueduct. He was then forced to bypass them! The purpose of this aqueduct was to bring enough water to Carhaix to supply the thermal baths and basins adorning the great monuments, but also the public fountains and wells. It also ensured the safety of water through a sewer system that it cleaned up. Protected by a cement box, the remains have kept their original state. Before the middle of the 4th century, the aqueduct was unfortunately abandoned and it was not until the beginning of the 20th century that running water finally returned to Carhaix!
Listed as a Historic Monument since 1914, Saint-Pierre de Plouguer Church is of Romanesque origin. The inner western part of the nave has beautiful horseshoe arches dating back to the 11th century. Several times later redesigned, it was also equipped with a bell tower, like Saint-Trémeur, in the first half of the 16th century. Its transitional decoration, inspired by the Guingampais style, combines flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance influence. The southern porch, in a flamboyant style, has a very particular horseshoe archway that probably dates back to the 18th century. As for the Romanesque nave, it was extended by Gothic bays in the 16th century. The sacristy was rebuilt in 1514 and the chevet was redesigned with three sections in 1746
As for the Saint-Trémeur church, it was built around 1370 on the site of a Benedictine priory founded in the 12th century. This parish church, and former collegiate church of Saint-Trémeur, had a granite spire above the tower of Saint-Trémeur. The whole thing was 75 metres high! Unfortunately, it was struck by lightning in 1575. Several centuries later, in the early 1880s, the other parts of the church were rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style, according to the plans of the diocesan architect Le Guerranic, originally from Saint-Brieuc. Affixed around 1530 on the western facade of the collegiate church, the bell tower-door will be classified as a Historic Monument in 1921. The entrance gate and the bay of the gallery are topped by a flamboyant Gothic brace arch, while the upper part is influenced by Renaissance art. Here's something to look forward to before you put on your festival shoes
Let's get the music going!
Because do we still have to introduce you to the Festival des Vieilles Charrues? What if we told you that this huge festival came as a joke: to freelance at the summer and coastal festivals that, every year, honour everything from the songs of sailors to the old hulls... Today, the Festival des Vieilles Charrues offers you four days of unforgettable concerts in Carhaix. If 8,000 inhabitants live there all year round, no less than 280,000 festival-goers rubbed shoulders with each other at the last edition. And to supervise them, it takes a large number of volunteers. A well-established organization that allows every summer to offer all musical styles and all generations of groups and singers to a jubilant audience. For this 28th edition, big names will once again succeed each other on the big stage.... Atmosphere guaranteed!
When? When? You can of course go to Carhaix all year round, even if the arrival of the sunny days is obviously more pleasant. To attend the 28th edition of Les Vieilles Charrues, visit us from July 18 to 21.
Getting there. By car (from Rennes, RN 164 towards Quimper; from Nantes, follow Vannes, Lorient, then the Lorient - Morlaix axis), by train (via Guingamp or Rosporden), by bus or by plane, everything is possible.
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