Guingamp, often translated as White Camp. Now, gwyn, white, was the name given in the Druidic cosmogony to the higher spiritual sphere, so Guingamp would be more accurately the spiritual high place. The town of Guingamp, an ancient feudal city, offers a journey through time. A delightful journey through time that can be extended with an invigorating stroll to discover the pearls of the Côtes-d'Armor.
In Guingamp, a little history
Guingamp was a popular place of passage until the 10th century. Afterwards, a wooden tower - a watchtower - was built, then replaced by a stone castle. It will form the center of the Breton city. The city, on the banks of the Trieux, lives then of its markets, its fairs and its craftsmen - tannery and textile. Having sided with Charles de Blois in the War of Succession, the town was regularly besieged. Its castle and ramparts were destroyed in 1410, but in 1440, an imposing fortress flanked by four towers and fortifications was built by the second son of Jean V, who became Count of Guingamp. The half-timbered houses are gradually replaced by granite houses with carved doors. In the 18th century, an ambitious town planning project remodelled the town centre. Deprived by the Revolution of its role as a small regional capital, Guingamp is, in the 19th century, only a sub-prefecture. Today, the city benefits from a program of rehabilitation of its heritage, and in particular the ramparts, and constitutes an essential stage for who wants to visit the Côtes-d'Armor. Moreover, its central position in the department allows access to all tourist attractions in 30 to 45 minutes by car.
In Guingamp, unmissable visits
In Guingamp, we necessarily start with a tour on the place du Centre. It is the square representing the popular heart of Guingamp. This is the place to go if you really want to feel the pulse of the city! Take the time to appreciate the small details of the many half-timbered houses that surround this square. You will also appreciate the meticulous ornamentation of the granite facades and carved doors. In the centre of the square, you can refresh yourself at the famous Guingamp fountain, the Plomée. It is located at the top of the square, at the intersection of rue Henry-Kerfant and rue Notre-Dame. It is really an emblem of the city of Guingamp, we often gather around it during popular festivals, it must be said that it is really well placed in the heart of the historic and commercial city. Its name comes from the Breton plomenn which means pump. It was built in the 15th century and moved to its current location in 1588. In 1745, it was redesigned by the sculptor Yves Corlay. It has 3 superimposed basins, the first in granite and the others in lead. The whole is surmounted by a statue, whose identity is not clarified: some see the Celtic goddess Anna, others a Florentine Virgin.
Next, we go to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. The first construction, Romanesque, has evolved into a Gothic church with only a few parts remaining, the Romanesque arches of the transept, as primitive evidence. The whole is therefore Gothic, with a Renaissance part, on the south side, to make up for a collapse. A 13th century tower, the beautiful Notre-Dame porch, with the statue of the Virgin above the altar, the 14th century Duke's door, 15th century apse. The statue of the Black Madonna, which is celebrated on the first Saturday of July by a night procession with torches and bonfires. Inside, you can admire some stained glass windows, the altar of the dead made of Kersanton stone, and part of an old altarpiece in the apse, representing the Annunciation.
Then we will go to the tourist office to discover the Breton ball museum. All kinds of balls made of boxwood, unbreakable, made of gaiac wood imported from Santo Domingo, hand studded to play on snow or ice, synthetic or plastic, balls from Morlaix, Lyon, England or even Morocco made of thuja wood, and other objects have been collected. The museum is not limited to Breton boules which are part of the local heritage. However, the exhibition also highlights the names of the great local players. In addition to the boules, there are many souvenirs brought by the inhabitants of the town
Then you should take a look at theTown Hall. The building housed the Hôtel-Dieu, founded in the 14th century by Charles de Blois, which was converted into an Augustinian convent at the end of the 17th century. It is located at one end of the Place du Champ-au-Roy. Although the building now houses a fire brigade building, you can see parts of the old cloister inside. On the other side of the street, you can discover the chapel of a former Ursuline monastery
Finally, make way for the Pierre II Castle. If you can't find it easily, it's still Richelieu's fault. Like others in Penthièvre, he had it razed to the ground in order to establish royal authority in the face of César de Vendôme, who had manifested his self-determination. The castle, built in the 15th century, was the third and last construction at this location, behind the basilica, near the current Place du Vally. Remains of the ramparts and towers, fairly well preserved overlooking the valley of the Trieux once lined with mills. A historic monument in the heart of the city of Guingamp, you will also walk around its ramparts, which have recently been completely renovated
Walking in the fresh air in the Côtes-d'Armor
Next, let's discover all the magic of Brittany by going to the Côtes-d'Armor. After a stopover in the medieval city of Dinan, with its half-timbered houses, pedestrian streets and ramparts, head for the Pink Granite Coast and its copper-coloured granite blocks
The watery landscapes pass by, from the Grand Site de France Cap d'Erquy - Cap Fréhel to the peaceful lake of Guerlédan, a real seaside resort in the countryside, passing by the island of Bréhat. Off the coast of Paimpol, it is a paradise for lovers of walking or cycling (the maximum altitude of the island does not exceed 25 meters!). Clement temperatures, abundant vegetation, charming villages... You'll soon be under its spell. Finally, the Valley of the Saints is a reminder that Brittany is a land of legends. Labelled as a "sensitive natural area", the unusual character of this place lies in the presence of ochre rocks that have been shaped by erosion, creating chimneys and fairies and other surprising shapes. Sweet surprises in store.
When to visit? All year round, although the arrival of the fine weather is obviously more pleasant. The months of May, June and September are ideal for avoiding the crowds on the coast in July and August.
How to get there. By plane (via Brest airport), by train, by bus or by car, everything is possible to get to Guingamp and the Côtes-d'Armor.
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