Auray, a small medieval city in Morbihan
It was on a rocky outcrop, at the end of a delta of the Gulf of Morbihan, that the Dukes of Brittany took up residence in the Middle Ages building a castle, a fortified city and a commercial port. For several centuries, Auray developed between its town center and its port on the banks of the river Loch.
It is by walking through the narrow streets of the historical center of Auray or the port of Saint Goustan that one discovers the evidence of this prosperous period: its streets and small paved squares surrounded by timber-framed houses, its quayside on the river banks and its magnificent 15th century bridge.
What is there to visit in Auray ?
Start your visit by the historic center, the old "upper town". Beautiful cobbled streets lined with houses with half-timbered facades, very busy streets, and no less than three open-air markets that liven up the main squar every week, the market hall and the heart of the city.
Some remarkable monuments and sites:
- The town hall and the old market hall : In the heart of the city, Place de la Republique, stands the Town Hall and its Belfry, built shortly before the French Revolution in white stones from the Bordeaux region. Extending the building, the old market hall date back to the 12th century. They were restored in the 15th century, razed in 1905 and replaced by the current building.
- The church of Saint-Gildas: An austere building of Renaissance style begun in 1621. Its originality manily lies in its remarkable southern entrance. Inside, is a magnificent classified altarpiece.
- The former commandery of the Order of the Holy Spirit: Established in the thirteenth century by the Duke of Brittany. A general hospital in the eighteenth century, then used as an infantry barracks, it was a fire station until 1984. It is part of a vast restoration plan.
The monument, remarkable for its proportions, sportss ogives of unusual dimensions, particularly the "Ogive du Chevet" (6 m by 12 m), but all are walled up.
- The prison: In addition to two completely renovated rooms, two dungeons, left untouched, are are to be found inside, with the large wooden bunks, on witch the prisoners slept, lodged in the wall ; also remember to admire the enormous bolted doors. These rooms and dungeons recount the history of Auray through paintings, photographs, statues and prehistoric objects.
Continue your visit on the "Rampes du Loch" that overlook the river: built on the foothills of the old castle (1201-1558), this footpath offers a beautiful view on the port of Saint Goustan and allows to descend by passing by a belvedere, composed of staggered square courts, erected in 1727 on the remains of the castle-fort of which you can still see some ruins.
At the foot of the ramps, you can then enjoy a walk along the river or cross it using the bridge of Saint Goustan and gain access to the other shore this picturesue harbour.
The port of Saint-Goustan
One can only be charmed by Saint Goustan : the narrow streets leading to its church, the quayside with craftwork markets and flea market, the cobbled Saint Sauveur square with its 15th century half-timbered, and coffee-shop terraces ....
To finish your visit, take the - very steep ! - Castle pedestrian street which goes up towards the city center. This "rue des artistes" is dotted with art galleries: paintings, sculptures, photography .... and craft shops. So take your time!