This used to be called the S.I. - the Syndicat d'Initaitive.
It is a friendly and helpful office, located in place de l'Hotel de Ville - just up the road from Pension Gloanec. It was formerly part of the Hotel des Ajoncs d'Or - which was previously known as Hotel Gloanec and owned by the same person as the Pension.
After picking up your maps , guide books and other information sit down to have a browse with a cup of coffee at the cafe of Hotel des Ajoncs d'Or next door - and watch the world go by.
Although I have never stayed in the hotel it used to have a good reputation and the restaurant was very good - but it is too long since we had a meal there to recommend here without recent reports.
Hotel information http://en.ajoncsdor-pontaven.com/
Public loos in France are often - now how shall I put this - let's think - well sometimes as bad as some of those back home in the UK!
It's usually a better option to use the facilities in a cafe or restaurant while you are there.
I only saw two public loos in Pont Aven - the first towards the end of quai Théodre-Botrel in the little park - OK!
THe other looked very quaint - a small brick, shed-like building ovehanging the main road bridge in the centre of town.
Sorry i can't report on the facilities but I can't imagine that as a bit of a tourist attraction they would have been less than acceptable!
aka le Musée municipal des Beaux-Arts de Pont Aven
This small museum was only established in 1985 and is located on just two floors, of modest size. The available space is shared between the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.
Do not visit in hope of seeing many of the original works of the painters who put Pont-Aven on the map - you will need to visit the collections in the galleries of world capitals and other important cities where they are on display . How thankful we should be that such galleries exist for all to visit.
Others are in the private collections of the mega-rich and seen only by a few.
It seems sad that the life work of artists who spent most of their lives in a hand to mouth existence, sometimes abject poverty, is now traded in auction houses like any stock market commodity.
The permanent collection here started from scratch and is still growing with new acquisitions every year - thanks to the financial support of the State, corporate and local sponsorship. Much of it consists of graphics, etchings and pastels and including some works by the founders of the Pont-Aven School. The most important addition was perhaps Gauguin's pastel - Breton Heads bought in 2003.
There is also an interesting archive collection of contemporaneous documents of all kinds, including old newspapers, photographs and letters.
The temporary exhibition I saw in Oct.2009 was dedicated to Marcel Chabas (1862-1947)
His work, previously unknown to me, showed most of the trends associated with the Breton school - so much so it sometimes appeared merely derivative and overlaid by an intense, depressed religiosity. A complex man and painter.
Address: Place de l'Hôtel de Ville
Phone: 02 98 06 14 43
There are dozens of art galleries in Pont-Aven, mainly paintings but some ceramicists and wood workers. Some are very smart looking establishments with just one painting displayed in the window. Mostly though you will see small ateliers with a gallery attached; some of these remain in residence until the end of September and return in time to reopen for Easter. We met one of these who came everyday, in his paint smattered smock, to one of the cafes where we went regularly for lunch.
Some may make enough to live on from a summer season with exhibitions but winter provides the possibility of supplementing income by teaching in a larger city like Quimper.
You don't have to go into a gallery to admire local artistry keep an eye open for street sculptures!
I have photos here of only two examples -too many peopel at others to geta shot.
More than a hundred years after the Pont-Aven School was founded "Pension Gloanec" is still at the vanguard of contemporary art.
In 1993 the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art (P.A.S.C.A.) was established and has its headquarters in the restored old pension that once housed so many painters who went on to achieve recognition.
The School organises courses for painters and art students from all over the world; they come to Pont Aven where lodgings with local families are arranged.
Many come from America continuing the tradition started by the English born Robert Wylie who arrived from Philadelphia in 1863. His family had emigrated to the States when he was a small child but he came to Pont-Aven as a respected American artist - with many others in tow. These would have made the largest group of foreigners seen there at the time and for many years it is said that all foreign visitors were known as"Americans".
For information about PASCA see-
We have taken this trip several times, in different seasons of the year and find it a most relaxing and informative way to spend an hour and a quarter.
The boats leave from quai Théodore-Botrel, the ticket kiosk displays timetables and is a little further down, next to the entrance to the small park and childrens playgrouns. ( There are Public loos nearby too).
Depending on how busy it seems - and we are never there in August - we usually buy our tickets an hour or two before the sailing that we want.
We enjoy the Blue Circuit which takes you down river as far as the open sea, passing Kerfavy-les-Pins and Port Manec'h as you turm upstream for the return There is a guided commentary as you sail along - great for discovering facts about local people and history that would be unlikely to be found in any guide book!
Hidden creeks with splendid houses , tiny fishing ports and lotsof information make it a worthwhile trip.
It has always been a bit pricey but I thought this year it had increased with a jump! Perhaps it was the exchange rate but it was, I think, 11 euros 50 per person.
Directions: Ticket Kiosk and boats moored on quai Theodore-Bodrel
One of the most attractive features of the town is the number of bridges - from the main granite road bridge, to the more slightly constructed foot bridges that take you from quai Théodore Botrel to the other side of the river- across one of which we watched a riding school of about 30 riders and horses cross - at a steady walking pace.
The quai is a busy thoughfare lined with art galleries, restaurants, a hotel or two and small shops and dwellings.
Many boats are moored alongside including the small tour boats which leave from here..
The colourful bridge flower displays seem to be kept in bloom for most of the year - we have seen them on all our visits betwen March and end of October.
Is it any wonder people want topaint scenes such as these?
The natural beauty of the village and its surroundings made it a magnet for aspiring artists in search of inspiration. In this they were also rewarded by the spirit and traditions of the local people, their ancient, and more recent historic roots. Here too they could obtain lodgings and live very cheaply.
The landlady of Pension Gloanec welcomed the painters, poets and writers who formed her bohemian clientele and was prepared to accept a painting in lieu of a board and lodge payment when funds their funds were low. After days spent walking and painting along the river, or in the countryside, in the evening her boarders would gather over dinner to discuss their own visions for the future of Art. Together they became known as the founders of the Pont-Aven School looking for the development of a common, total method of communication in art which would leave behind Romanticism and Impressionism.
For 20 years from around 1886 artists from France, Europe and America came and went. to the Pension.
Finally Gaugun tired of " tourists posing as painters" abandoned Pont-Aven for the tiny, remote commune of Le Poldu. He was joined there for a while by Paul Sérusier and Charles Filiger and others before he completed the revolt from his former bourgeois life by going to Tahiti.
If you take time to wander around the centre of town - it is very compact but do not be afraid to take odd little turnings - keep a look out - eyes up, and down - for numerous information and historical information boards and plaques.
If you have been to Paris and Musee d'Orsay you may have seen one of Gauguin's famous paintings - Les Lavandieres de Pont-Aven.
Here you can see exactly the scene where it was painted - .the place in the river where the women came to do the weekly wash.
This is all we did in Pont-Aven, other than eat lunch. There are several sites that inspired the artist of the "Pont-Aven School" but we are not avid observers of their work and they would not have had meaning to us. Upstream are the remains of watermills that spun yarn at one time and were a source of income, but we could not make them out. Although there is some effort to exploit tourists here, it was mostly souvenirs and not informative. This is not worth a detour; we were going by anyway and it is pretty enough for that.
- Family Travel