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History of Le Faou

an haven south of Brest and Plougastel, the very gate of the CROZON PENINSULA

Le Faou county stretches on a mere twenty five kilometers from East to West, from the Arrée mounts to the bay of Brest that provides its opening to the atlantic world. Its shoreline stretches from the Le Faou harbour to the junction of Douffine and Aulne rivers, twenty kilometers afar. The county is bordered on its south by maritim Aulne maritime and opens on the South-East toward Châteaulin basin. Aulne river is joined by the Douffine rier in Pont-de-Buis as a natural South-East border. Both with the Le Faou ria form the Rosnoën peninsula that extends the West end of Arrée mounts toward the Crozon peninsula. On the East, joining the Douffine, the Saint-Rivoal river is setting the limit with Pleyben county.

In the North of the county, the township of Le Faou is composed between the domanial Cranou forest and the end of the ria which is a small glaze at the limit of Daoulas county. On the end of Bay of Brest are spread several rias, all subjet to tides rules, which allow trade and exchanges since ever.


This county of 12 637 hectares, in a prime position in the center of the department, is nowadays formed by four townships : Lopérec (Lopereg), Pont-de-Buis-lès-Quimerc’h (Pont ar Veuzen-Kimerh), Rosnoën (Roslohen) and Le Faou (Ar Faou). A few land and administrative fusions dwelved the county from seven to only four townships between 1949 and 1971. Pont-de-Buis, which very existence was related to the development of a powder factory to supply Brest arsenal, was created in 1949 to the dépents of Quimerc’h and Saint-Ségal (county of Châteaulin) ; in 1965, the three townships of Pont-de-Buis, Quimerc’h et Logonna-Quimerc’h fusionnent. In 1971, Rumengol is attached to Le Faou ; all the county towships became members of the Natural Regional Park of Armorique.


The density of the population of the county evolved very little since the second half of the XIXth century : in 1844, 6.837 inhabitants are counted, in 1999, 6.548. Importants relocation are observed nevertheless to the benefit of the county capital and to the workers city of Pont-de-Buis ; the two other townships, Lopérec et Rosnoën, which are more rural rurales and sligthly behind major communication roads, lost inhabitants. Le Faou continues to attract with its many shops and tourism.


architectural and FURNITURE LEGACY

Looking at either the communication roads or the architectural civil engineering : coming from the South and towards Brest, the roads and paths all go through Le Faou,  which is indeed a mandatory sea and land crossroad in the end of the ria.

Coming from the Crozon peninsula or from Douarnenez, the traveler goes atop the Térénez bridge to cross the Aulne. The railroad reaches Châteaulin in 1864, and Brest in 1865. The Châteaulin-Landerneau line is achieved only in 1867 ; the complexity of inclined geography and the concurrence of the maritime and sea transport efficiency delayed its arrival.


Le Faou, capital OF a viscount 

Inside Cornwall, are several country or “pagi”. One of which is the Poher or Poucaër that stretches in the XIXth century from the Quintin country to the ocean ; borderd in the North by the Arrée mounts and by the Black Mountains in he South, it includes the Faou country. As soon as the XIth century, viscounts of Le Faou holded a enviable position between North and South of modern Finistère department. They supported is with fortified sites in Le Faou, Daoulas  and La Roche Maurice thus controling the rear country from the bay to the Arrée mounts between the Aulne and Elorn rias.

Around 1400, the viscount ruled over seventeen parishes, but in 1682, it reduced to only ten. The  Richelieu yielded the viscount title to the Rohan-Chabot in 1736, which in their turn sold it to the Magon de La Gervisais in 1762. Under this name, Le Faou is raised as marquisat in 1765.



Thanks to the dynamism of its fairs and markets, the city expanded between the XVIth and the XVIIth centurye. In the eleven cities and towns that are taxed in Cornwall at the end of the XVIth, Le Faou holds the sixth rank, before Douarnenez, Crozon and Carhaix.

Le Port du Faou en 1776 - Dessin de Louis François CASSASThe structure of this river and sea site is identical to the one in Hôpital-Camfrout, a few kilometers away ; in both cases, not only we observe the village structure in a shape of a main street without depth development but also isolation and valorisation of the church built alongside the water.

Urban landscape extends very little during centuries. The project of Le Roy engineer in 1764 that foresaw the deletion of nearly all of the old dwellings, was only partly done ; it was only after the coming of Napoléon III, in 1858, which was a political event with urban consequences that the credits were available to align the western side of the main street “Grand´Rue”. As well as the dismantling of the parish enclosure, the cimetary was transferd on the northern bank of the city and the ossuary was destroyed. These drastic interventions in old urban landscape match the way of thinking of that time.

Bateaux sabliers gabares du Faou By its traffic, Le Faou is under “Ancien Régime”, the third harbour in the bay of Brest. Reachable only at high tide, the grounding dwarf secured building wood transport coming from trees beaten down in Cranou forest. After the arsenal creation in Brest for the Western Fleet, docking activity grew substantially from the 1650th, thus supplying wood for the Marine dockyards. Lacking direct and useful land paths, sailboats and later steamboats were a largely used way of transport. The necessity to build masoned docks rose as early as the XIXth century. Started in 1835, works ended in 1882 ; with the center dock, located between the Quélen dock and the drydock, ended a long and ambitious programm than in turn became progressively useless to the new economic and trading needs. Sand to amend agricultural land and wood transport declined promptly after World War One.

Two halls succeeded on the same parcel. The first wooden one existed in 1540 and hosted also the city audience and temporarily the city council room, the school and the archives. It was replaced in 1899, by a metallic covert market wich in turn was destroyed in 1946.

Halles historiques en bois Halles historiques en fer


Le Faou, urban houses

Like almost all ancient cities in Brittany, Le Faou knew two strong building phases, the XVIth et XVIIth century and the period of time going from 1850 to 1914. Nowadays, 16 houses still present a pan of wood facade while twenty or more disapeared.

The location at the end of the parcel, corbels on joists, slates covering and very long blueprint with two or three rooms by level are typical to almost all of the old hours in Le Faou. The shape of the parcel on which erects a wide or narrow house, has consequences on its morphology, and the interior design ; the houses in Le Faou do not differ from this constant that can be observed in other cities of Brittany, on the exception of building materials coming from local stone quarry. The contrast is striking between the microdiorite golden stain (Logonna stone) and the dark grey of the kersantite (Kersanton stone)


Extract from Topographic inventory of architectural and furniture legacy in Le Faou county – Regional council of Brittany 1997.

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