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photo Vincent Mouchel

Throngs visit historic Quimper

The crowds invaded Quimper last night for the « nuit des vieux quartiers » to which, this year, entry was free. In late sunshine around 7.00 pm outside the cathedral, the sound of bagpipes warming up for the evening’s concerts rose above the clamour of the tourist crowd.
Sixteen craft stalls presented their wares, and among them Broderie Le Minor from Pont L’Abbé. « Our designers use elements from local traditional costumes, but also from furniture and architecture, to create original embroidered or printed table linen» explained Gildas Le Minor. On Saturday, he will deliver 25 costumes for the Ergué Gaberic bagad which is due to appear in the procession on Sunday. In this same square a few hours later, a group from Redon called Katé-mé will be blasting away with the bagpipes and electric guitar. The words in French will relate « stories that are sad, but which have better endings than the ones from Basse-Bretagne », according to singer Mathieu Hamon.

In the Rue Kéreon, exhilarated but tired after the procession, four young ladies from the Glazik Kemper bagad in black and royal blue costumes, hurried away to change into modern dress for their evening performance. « On the 31st August we saw an English frigate pass on the wind... » sang 15 Douarnenistes from the Mouez Port Rhu at that moment in the Place Saint-Mathieu, their sea-worn faces firmly set towards the evening sun.
Spectators at tables meanwhile tucked into « andouilles » and potatoes. « When the butter cools, it will go clear » explains in rue du Salle someone from the Association des Vieux Métiers on the Crozon peninsula. Two helpers took it in turns at the wooden churn’s handle for more than an hour as interested onlookers waited for the butter to turn... Night fell, and more and yet more people arrived to wander around the old streets of Quimper, stopping to look here or there at somone sawing up wood, or telling a story.

Near the auditorium where the crowds were listening to choirs sing, Geneviève was spinning on an old pre-war spinning wheel her daughter’s sheep’s wool, washed in spring water. Onlookers, fascinated to witness such skills from the past, were hypnotised by these deft fingers turning wool into thread in a few simple gestures.
Further down at the Place du Beurre against a backdrop of lovely stone buildings, the group Heb Ken played a Scottish suite on banjos and « iuellan » pipes.
At the Place St Corentin near the cathedral there was a threshing demonstration, and children leapt about happily in the straw.
On the banks of the Odet as Matmatah’s audience cried « Wah Wah » and « Oh oh oh oh », two celtic circle dancers from Mederien Penhars wearing costumes dating from 1870 leant against the railings chatting.
One heavenly summer evening that was the « Nuit des Vieux Quartiers » in Quimper...

photo Vincent Mouchel


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