May 22, 2024


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Ville Close, the Fortified Island of Concarneau in Brittany, France

The medieval fortifications Ville Close is a fortified island of Concarneau. It stands on a long island in the centre of Concarneau harbour. The walled town Ville Close has only a few narrow streets and is just a short distance from the city and port. 

The origin of the Ville Close dates back to the 15th century. During the following centuries, it is the centre of Concarneau. Nowadays, with an area of 350 metres by 100 metres, Ville Close is one of the most visited sites in Brittany and is quite crowded in the summer seasons. Luckily, we explored this place in autumn during our two-week road trip to Brittany. There were only a few people were walking around, most locals.   

View from the entrance of Ville Close Old Fortified Island

A few metres off the coast in the harbour, a drawbridge connects the land and Ville Close Old Fortified Island. But before crossing the drawbridge, from the harbourside, I could take some great pictures of the rocky island and the cupola-clock tower facing the coast of Concarneau.

Eager to enter the island, we did not notice that I was standing next to an anchor. The anchor and the clock tower are the perfect elements for a vertical photo setting. Upon leaving, we spotted this viewpoint, the most intriguing part of Ville Close, and therefore departed with satisfaction. 

Walking on the walls of the Ville Close

The quaint drawbridge leads to the old town. Passing right behind the drawbridge, then climbing a few steps up, we found ourselves on the medieval walls. From the two towers on both sides of the drawbridge, I had fabulous views of the fishing port and Concarneau bay. Autumn seems to be an off-season there since we were the only visitors strolling on the walls on that day. But in the summer seasons, when more visitors arrive, there would be not much space to share.

The eastern side of the island, roughly a third of the entire island, is a small hilly park, from where a passenger ferry runs across the inlet to the opposite quay at Place Duquesne. In several places, stairs from old walls lead to the ground level. 

Picturesque streets and squares

The main street Rue Vauban starts from the main entrance gate and crosses the island, connecting the square, Place Saint-Guénolé. Stone houses were converted into attractive buildings, shops, galleries, and restaurants. Many shops sell Breton souvenirs and local food etc. 

The autumn weather in Brittany is chillier than expected. Assumably, it would get chillier during the second week on the northern coast of Brittany, where we would stay, so I planned to buy a jacket to secure myself for the cooler weather. Therefore, I opted for a clothing shop and hoped to buy a windproof or waterproof jacket. After a quick search, I realized that most jackets in this shop were the typical waxed Breton waterproof coat for fishermen, a style that fits the whole family and mainly differs in colour. During the following days of our holiday, I saw such clothing shops in several cities and even in small towns, such as the fishing village Paimpol. 

Most restaurants open around lunchtime. Within half an hour, most restaurants were getting crowded. After a quick examination of menus from several restaurants, we went into L’Ecume de la Ville Close at the Saint-Guénolé square. I also ordered a pork dish cooked in cider, a typical Breton dish. The food had a strong flavour and boosted my appetite.  

Visiting the Fishing Museum

A few metres away from the main gate is the fish museum, Musée de la Pêche. From 1850, Concarneau had developed many canneries. About a hundred sardine and tuna fishing boats and about thirty factories supported the local economy. The museum presents interesting information about commercial fishing and how it has evolved. 

Travel tips for Ville Close, the Fortified Island of Concarneau

There are several large parking areas in the harbour areas, for example, Quai d’Aiguillon Parking and Place Du 8 Mai 1945 Parking. They are just near the entrance of Ville Close.

If you arrive from the south by car, the closest parking area is near the quay at Place Duquesne. From there, take the ferries via Bac du Passage to the island. The ferry costs about 1 Euro per ride.

The best way to explore the island is to wander at will. If you only have a few hours in Concarneau, you should spend the time on the island. 

If you plan to stay there, you can find hotels near Ville Close as well. The following two accommodation are my good picks: