oncarneau, which at the end of the 19th century only measured a hundred hectares, is today 40 times bigger which ranks it 3rd largest communes of the Finistère due to its population…
It had to expand considerably during that time by including the two neighbouring communes, Beuzec and Lanriec. An expansion largely justified by the need to find building plots to accommodate both new industries and the related population.
Without going back to the prehistoric and Gallo-Roman habitats unearthed nearby, it is certain that by the 14th century a real town surrounded by walls of stone occupies the island still called today the “Ville Close”. To begin with it was a mix of simple fishermen cottages and a few bourgeois houses; But early on, the location of this island drew the attention of the military: it is an ideal position to prohibit the possible landing of enemies who also coveted this place they saw as an ideal anchor.
It is true that over the centuries worrying wings intersected off the coast. The Ville Close was the subject of fights, haggling, taken by ruse and found itself successively in the hands of the troops of the Duchy, King, English, Protestant, and Leaguers… The best known military attack was without doubt the siege of the city in 1373 by Duguesclin which chase the English garrison away.
Repeatedly revised, supplemented and enhanced, the walls of the city remained until the 19th century, a refuge of release for ships of war or commerce, on the road from Port-Louis in Brest.
A town under constrain
But this small town, enclosed within its walls, needs space. It starts to ‘overflow’ on the neighbouring shores and soon, on the outskirts of Peneroff, of Aire-l’Evèque, and on the road to Quimper road the population increases: first residences of notables, men of law, wealthy merchants, then fishermen, craftsmen. Fish salting workshops attract an influx of rural labour force. New housing estates replace heath and meadows.
In the middle of the 19th century, the emergence of the first canning amplifies this tendency. Everywhere close to the sea but especially in La Croix district, factories open and new artisans open shop. Fishing and related activities become the raison d’etre of Concarneau.
At the same time, at the end of the 19th century, the first «sea bathing» lovers are building along the beaches, villas of surprising shapes and designs. Hotels and full board accomodations multiply. With the thirties come the first campers, precursor caravan lovers, camping cars and mobil-homes. Even today, Concarneau remains a city of both economic activities and family resort.
The access to the fortifications is possible during each French school holidays period. The Heritage Centre provides access to the fortifications throught the “Tour of the Gouvernor”, recently renovated.
Guided tours : in and off season programs are available at the Tourist Office.
• Normal 5,50 € to 8 €
• Reduced 3,50 € to 4,50 €
• Heritage workshop 6-12 years old: free
• Pass 4 visits: 10,50 €
Tickets on sale at the Tourist Office and “La Maison du Patrimoine”.