Armor, land of the sea; Argoat, land of woods. One hesitates to set Quimper in one area or the other, the borders of which are in any case imprecise. Approaching from the east, one sees Quimper surrounded by greenery (the Argoat); however, the great white seabirds which circle the town, and the Atlantic tides which govern the river show that Armor is not far away.
Quimper, the capital of Cornouaille and head of Finistere, France's westernmost department, is a middle-sized city of about 60,000 people. It is 560km west of Paris and 200km west of Rennes. These days it is accessible in all seasons by road, train, air and sea. Geographers call Quimper a head of ria, a fluvio-maritime city with the harbour of Corniguel only 3km away.
Cobbled squares, picturesque streets between corbelled houses, aristocratic mansions: these are the first aspects of Quimper that strike the visitor. The time-worn slate and stone convey the true character of the pays de Cornouaille. Rue Kereon, rue des Poireaux, rue des Boucheries, rue du Lycie, rue Elie Fréron, (once the rue Obscure), rue du Sallé, rue du Guéodet, rue Saint François, rue des Gentilhommes... Place au Beurre, place Terre aux Ducs, place Laennec, place Saint Corentin... wherever you look you will see queer old houses, manors and mansions, some over 400 years old. mper's other attractions include the beautiful Gothic cathedral, the Bishop's Palace (housing the Breton museum), the square Saint-Corentin, heart of the walled city, the square Laennec and the Musie des Beaux-Arts. Dominating all is the proud skyline of Mont Frugy, rearing more than two hundred feet over the city.
Art and leisure have flourished here in recent decades: Cinema's Art et Essai, the Rencontres Cinématographiques, the famous Festival de Cornouailles, the Semaines Musicales, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the modern dance - all these have come to Quimper. A large sports and leisure complex has recently been built at Creach Gwen, on the Bay of Kerogan.
The capital of Cornouaille has many facets: it was a kingdom, an earldom, and a bishopric. Quimper cannot be defined by administrative or political boundaries. Cornouaille has a definite Celtic character even though its name no longer appears on official maps: it exists today through the people who feel a real sense of belonging to the region. And this could also be said for the whole of Brittany.