Don’t you love those moments when time stands still? You take a breath and feel the history and heritage of a place working its magic, putting everything into perspective… Take a peek into our timeless treasures and hidden histories and be inspired.
Perhaps our most famous heritage icons are the timbered Pondalez houses, unique to Morlaix. The wooden framework dates from the 1500s when wealthy linen merchants used their fortunes to build impressive homes, examples of which can still be seen in our town centre. One of these is part of Morlaix Museum “La Maison à Pondalez”, so you can visit and admire at your leisure.
There are two particular features that make these houses so distinctive: the inner courtyard called the ‘lanterne’ and the fact that each storey of the house extends further out than the last, creating an overhang on the ground floor. They are beautifully built and their inspiring architecture is still impressive today – it’s all in the framework, of course.
Older than the pyramids
How about something seriously old? We’ve all heard the hype about the pyramids, but far closer and among far more picturesque surroundings you’ll find the Cairn de Barnenez. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the sparkling seas of Morlaix Bay, this stone burial chamber dates back to 5000BC and was only discovered in 1955. It stands 6 metres tall, around 25 metres wide and stretches for 75 metres along the grassy slope. It is open for visits and occasionally holds open days – to find out more, check online : What’s on.
We can’t talk about stepping back in time in Morlaix Bay without mentioning our very own Alcatraz, the Château du Taureau. This amazing island fortress is visible on the horizon for miles around, and was indeed a prison for many years. The great news is that you can take a boat across to visit the fortress either from Carantec or Plougasnou and enjoy feeling stranded amidst some of Brittany’s best offshore views.
Hidden gem: Guerlesquin
Never heard of Guerlesquin? Pronounced Gair-less-kan, this modest market town is utterly fascinating. About 20 minutes east of Morlaix, tucked on the borders with the Côtes d’Armor, Guerlesquin is the only French town still with its symbols of the Old Regime: the church, the market halls and a prison. For most visitors, it’s the prison that’s the most fascinating. Dating from 1640, it’s relatively tiny, a square block with rounded turret corners, right in the centre of the marketplace. For details about visiting this bizarrely charming prison, ask the Tourist Office.