Guimiliau Travel Guide

  • Guimiliau
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt

Guimiliau Things to Do

  • The gorgeous retable of St Miliau

    (work in progress)Guimiliau ('Gwimilio' in Breton) means the 'settlement of St Miliau', the local patron saint. Celts does a good line in homegrown saints - virtually none of which are recognised by Rome - many of them local nobility who were subsequently elevated to sainthood. St Miliau is no exception, being a prince who was apparently killed by...

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  • The understated ossuary

    (work in progress)By comparison with Saint-Thégonnec's flamboyant ossuary - complete with technicolou tableau of Jesus being laid out for burial - the ossuary at Guimiliau is a smaller and much more restrained structure.It was locked when we visited and I'm not sure whether this is the usual state of affairs or not. Regardless of that, a peek...

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  • The curious architecture of Guimiliau's...

    (work in progress)Guimiliau's parish church is an odd architectural hybrid, which seems one part European and one part Hobbit.The church was built in the 16th century and has a solid granite block construction, topped by an eclectic collection of slate roofs. It is further distinguished by its truly monumental parish close, which contains an...

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  • St Guimiliau's massive Calvary

    (work in progress)It's difficult to know where to begin to describe the colossal Calvary that dominates the parish close at Guimiliau.To start with, it comprises more than 200 figures that depict different scenes from the Passion (trial and crucifixion) of Christ: to put this number into context, that's more than one carved figure for each five...

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  • The beautifully tranquil churchyard

    (wok in progress)The grounds of Guimiliau's parish close are rather crowded, since they contain both the enormous Calvary and the splendid ossuary in a fairly small churchyard. Nonetheless, it somehow contrives to be a remarkably tranquil spot, although in high summer, I suspect that it is unlikely to retain quite the same peaceful atmosphere.We...

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  • An unusual vaulted wooden ceiling

    (work in progress)A notable characteristic of the interior of many Breton churches is that they have vaulted wooden ceilings which are often painted.The ceiling of the parish church at St Guimiliau is a particularly striking example, and its attractiveness is enhanced by the fact that it has been painted a vibrant shade of blueish green.

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  • A town with more to offer than just a...

    (work in progress)There are several wonderful parish closes in the eastern portion of Bretagne's Finistére region, but many visitors may only have the time - or interest - in visiting one.For what it's worth, my vote goes to Guimiliau, which - in addition to its stupendous church close - is a very pretty little town. With a population of about 950,...

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  • Columns bowed by antiquity

    (work in progress)The church at Guimiliau may only be 16th century, but one of the reasons why it feels older is that there are signs of structural failure.If you look closely at this line of columns - which should be vertical and parallel to one another - you will see that they are wildly out of kilter, and there's some evidence to suggest that at...

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  • Baroque baptistry that's too big for the...

    (work in progress)My intense dislike of Baroque architecture is well documented in my pages, so it's safe to say that this exceedingly ornate wooden baptistry which stands over the baptismal font at Guimiliau was never going to excite me - the best that I can say for it is that at least the temptation to cover the exposed oak in gilt was...

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  • St Sebastian sans arrows

    (work in progress)This statue to the right hand side of the entrance to the church made me smile, although given the subject matter, it probably shouldn't have.This is clearly St Sebastian, who was martyred around 288 A.D. He was a Captain in the Emperor Diocletian's Praetorian Guard who was found guilty of encouraging two prisoners in their...

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  • See the Ends of the Calvary (pt.2)

    The support arms (of the H) of the Calvary have upon their faces at the frieze level figures of the 4 Evangelists. With some difficulty their identifying icons can be found.

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  • Look at the Calvary (pt.1)

    The Calvary at Guimiliau is what you have come here for. It is similarto most of the others in the area in that it has an arch with supporting angled arms that form its base. On the platform above is a single knobby post with a crucifix with Jesus at the top. Lower down there is a beam with a large figure standing at each end (Mary and St. John?)....

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  • Details of the Interior (Pt.2)

    There is another important Altar, that of the Rosary. This must be a particular manifestation of Breton religious worship as we do not remeber seeing these altars elswhere and we haven seen them in almost every Breton church, All are framed in circular medallions with scenes to enhance the sequence of the recitation, The centers illustrate the...

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  • There are Interior Attractions to See...

    The interior has many furnishings and altars that feature fine examples of Breton woodcarving skill. There are the organ case, the pulpit and a large number of wooden altarpieces. (Church woodworking art during the 16-17C appears in enormous amounts all over Europe along side of plaster work as part of the Baroque and then sublimates itself into...

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  • Examine the Church's South Porch (Pt.1)

    Itis surprising tifjnd such an elaborate entry to a church in a small poor town (pop. 700), even more with such a fine Calvary next to it. The first thing that strikes you is the large rounded recessed entry arches and their well carved voussoirs, like a Gothic cathedral. Then on the buttresses there is a series of saintly statues culminating with...

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  • Look At the South Portal Details (Pt.2)

    The Carving skills range from crude to fine.Much of the work on the voussoirs is as good as that on the Calvary and the Apostles are as fine. A cruder and earlier phase is seen in the freize below the Apostles (dated1606) where the Birth of Eve from Adam's side is depicted or on the freize below the outside ossuary.

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  • Enter the Parish Close

    We entered the Close through a gate to reveal a 16C church with a tall tower and a prominent South Porch that had a rounded doorway with recessed arches. These and 4 gabled bays with large windows forming a nave were evidences of a 17C Flamboyant Renaissance remodelling. Nearer to us was the famous Calvary. To our right beyond the east end of the...

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  • Enclos paroissial

    The main reason to go to Guimiliau is to visit its enclos paroissial, with the richest calvaire of the whole Bretagne: more than 200 statues! It is formed by:1) the église de Saint-Miliau;2) the calvaire (see more photos in the travelogue;3) the sacristy;4) the charnel house.

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  • Eglise de Saint-Miliau - the nake woman

    When you come out of the church, ask the guide where you can see the woman with the naked breast. Here she is! It's a very curious sculpture for a church, isn't it?The second pic show other decorations that must be inside the church.

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  • Eglise de Saint-Miliau - the...

    The three altar-pieces of the choir are certainly the most important art works of the church. The first represents Saint-Miliau, while the other two show Christ, the Madonna and saints.The last two pictures depict a cross and the statue of a saint with two decorated columns.

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  • Eglise de Saint-Miliau - inside:...

    The inside of the church is Baroque and, as you can already see, it is much richer than that of Saint-Thégonnec. Worth seeing are the organ, the wooden pulpit (1677) and the baptistry (1675), but I think the most beautiful part is the choir with its decorated altar-pieces that will come in the next tip.

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Guimiliau Local Customs

  • Mikebond's Profile Photo

    by Mikebond Updated Oct 29, 2007

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    As far as the Breton custom of kissing each other on the cheeks upon meeting (se faire la bise) is concerned, I realized that Guimiliau is the place where the numbers of kisses to exchange varies the most and the most often. It may share this "record" only with Plestin-les-Grèves. From what I observed, I drew the conclusion that one kiss is the most common option, but three or four kisses are not rare, either; instead, two kisses seem to be the most unusual choice.

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Guimiliau Off The Beaten Path

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    Lunch 1 more image

    by hquittner Updated Sep 23, 2007

    En route on the road from Lampaul-Guimiliau to Guimiliau,with vittles in the car and rain coming down, we passed this roadside cross with a picnic table in front of it. We stopped and the rain stopped too. We do not think St. Miliau is the patron saint of travellers, but he was this time! We recommend local cherries and a brie-like cheese with Orangina.(The Cross is the second picture).

    Related to:
    • Seniors
    • Family Travel

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