Chris Slade describes the son et lumiere presentation at the abbey of Bon Repos called "Le Pays de Conomor" in Brittany, which takes place during the first two weeks of August.
Despite 5 or 6 trips to this area every year for the past 2 decades, I had never visited Questembert – until today! The market in Questembert is one of, if not THE, oldest covered markets in France. Questembert’s claim to fame! The Halles, as it is named, date back from 1552. It has been a listed Historic Monument since 1922 and was restored in 1997. This beautiful ancient building still plays host to markets, fairs, bric-a-brac and other events.
We visited on a Saturday afternoon, and so it was incredibly quiet and pretty much deserted. A few shops and that’s it. I expect it is a more pleasant place outside of February, when the sun is shining with the market in town. Therefore, we didn’t stay long preferring to take a quick trip over to Rochefort-en-Terre for a crepe.
How much we missed and above all, what a shame!
If only we’d known…
It turns out that every Monday morning (all year round), Questembert transforms itself into a large open air market. The 16th century Halles, town squares and neighbouring streets play host to many traders from 9am until around 1pm. These sell anything from local produce to clothing (among other things).
The magnificent 16th century Halles, listed Monument Historique as mentioned above, are located in the heart of the town. They are an ideal venue for markets and various cultural events all year round: concerts, exhibitions, festivals and Fest Noz. (Fest Noz are traditional Breton dancing festivals, with dancing in groups to live music). Visitors to the Monday morning market can enjoy a free horsedrawn carriage ride (the Navette Hippomobile). It departs from the Parking des Buttes to Rue Jean Grimaud during market hours (9am to 1pm).
In addition, a local produce market takes place every Wednesday evening from 5pm, all year round. The Convivi’Halles Association is the organiser and also invite you to musical entertainment in the Summer season. From 6pm, you can enjoy free concerts and paying meals eaten around long shared tables. Local producers, market traders and local associations are members of Convivi’Halles.
I somehow wish I had done my homework before visiting Questembert on a cold, miserable, dark and wet Saturday afternoon in February. This seemingly sleepy town hides a wealth of exciting entertainment that it would be a shame to miss. Next time, my wife and I will be aiming for a Monday morning or perhaps even a beautiful Summer evening…on a Wednesday, of course!