Pont Aven is a picturesque mill town best known for its association with famous artists and is a must-visit during your stay in southern Brittany. You can walk in the footsteps of Gauguin on one of the loveliest walks in the area along the banks of the river Aven. Pont-Aven is also the place to go to visit art galleries and your visit wouldn’t be complete without tasting its famous butter biscuits (galettes).
Pont-Aven, mills and artists
For several hundred years Pont-Aven was a quiet port town with an industry based around its port and watermills; as the saying goes “Pont-Aven, 14 mills and 15 houses”. It was only at the end of the 19th century that Pont-Aven secured its place in posterity with the arrival of the artist Paul Gauguin. Attracted by the light and beauty of the landscapes, Gauguin created an art school known worldwide as the “School of Pont-Aven” and was joined by other artists such as Paul Sérusier and Emile Bernard. Today, art is everywhere in Pont-Aven. Don’t miss a trip to the Beaux-Arts museum or the International Contemporary Art Centre or simply browse around the numerous art galleries and craft shops.
Charming riverside walks
You cannot but fall in love with this charming, bucolic Breton village built around the Aven, a turbulent river formed of huge granite boulders, the largest of which is called « sabot de Gargantua » (Gargantua’s slipper). Enjoy a walk along the marina and admire the impressive yachts and old sailing ships that moor here.
Promenade Xavier Grall
Promande Xavier Grall starts right in the centre of Pont-Aven. Also known as the « promenade des lavoirs » (wash house promenade) , it was named after a famous Breton writer who was inspired by this beautiful place. The footpath takes you all along the Aven past old wash houses, stone steps as well as relics of mills, a witness to Pont-Aven’s past. Lined with beautiful plants and shrubs throughout the year, this really is the nicest place to enjoy a stroll.
Follow famous artists’ footsteps to Bois d’Amour
From the town centre, follow the river Aven and discover the Bois d’Amour woodland, an inspiration to many famous artists. On your way, stop off at Trémalo chapel, a 16th century monument which is famous worldwide for its Christ made of wood which inspired Paul Gauguin to paint his « Yellow Christ ».