"Pont-Aven" Pont-Aven by ranger49

Pont-Aven Travel Guide: 16 reviews and 72 photos

Little City of Painters

Love it or hate it?
Picturesque or tourist trap?
Not worth a visit and nothing to do there?
I first visited this place on the River Aven,with the little bridge that gives the town its name, in 1966.
From the bridge you can still see some of the 14 old mills that, by the early 19th century, had made it a prosperous and pleasant place to live. The good flour milled in the town created prosperity for those who found a way to combine it with the rich, salty local butter and sugar to bake mouth-watering galettes.

But it was the arrival, in 1863, of the American artist Robert Wylie and others, names no longer remembered, whose influence ensured it's place as a successful tourist destination long after the old mill wheels ceased to turn.

Little seems to remain of Wylie in the town - he is perhaps underrated -now it is his French contemporaries who followed him to Pont-Aven to pursue their work amongst the peasants and ordinary working people they chose as subjects.

In 1966 I was just getting to know the works of people like Gauguin, Cézanne, van Gogh and Sérusier ; the very idea that these painters and others of that era, had walked along the river, stayed in the houses in the square and eaten in the cafes and bars was enough to feed my radical and romantic notions of art and artists.

So - I loved it then and have done ever since, seeing it now as more than just a mausoleum for a style of painting that started here, but as an attractive town that has learned to endlessly adapt, diversify and welcome visitors - whether they can paint or not!
Even forgiving it for milking the Gauguin connection for all its worth!

  • Last visit to Pont-Aven: Oct 2009
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (15)

Comments (10)

  • aussirose's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    What a delightful little page Barbara! :o) I enjoyed the read and lovely pictures. btw, I like your loo tip haha. Cheers, Ann.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 12, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    This reads like a hidden gem in the area along the coast. Your descriptions of the sites and the culture are very good.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Nov 12, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    Yes, it does seem ironic that the life work of artists who spent most of their lives in poverty is now traded in auction houses like any stock market commodity. I imagine the great-granddaughters of Les Lavandieres de Pont-Aven now have washing machines rather than doing their laundry in the river.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2011 at 6:21 AM

    Yet again another lovely page that brings back so many memories of holidays past.

  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo
    Dec 18, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    Barbara, you never cease to amaze and delight me with these lovely little places you write about. This one I've got to see. BTW I totally agree with you about the public loos in France.

  • Balam's Profile Photo
    Jan 26, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Looks a lovely place, Great new pages.

  • lynnehamman's Profile Photo
    Jan 19, 2010 at 5:06 AM

    Excellent new page. I share your thoughts regarding the paintings being sold now for millions.Wonder how many masterpieces might be hidden in some landladies old attic- payment for a room and meal once. Pretty little town.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jan 19, 2010 at 1:28 AM

    Wow Barbara! What a find this pretty town was for you, it is gorgeous! Love your photos, the reflections, flowers, bridges, thatched roof and more!

  • nickandchris's Profile Photo
    Jan 18, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    What a beautiful looking place but I wouldn't like all the tourists! Great tips and lovely photos.

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    Jan 15, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Excellent history and photos of Pont-Aven, the home of 'Pension Gloanec' art! I had no idea that this is how artists 'did it' back in the day! Love the idea of a river cruise in a vedette and that's one of the most artistic looking loos I've ever seen!


“Cherish the past. Adorn the present. Construct for the future - Clough Williams Ellis”

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