As I mentioned before, Brittany has an extremely long, indented coastline and much of their history and economy has been tied to the sea—and still is in certain places, especially with fishing and oyster farms.
Pont l’Abbé is a pretty small town with a tiny river port leading to the coast, not far from Concarneau. The town was founded in the 14th century by a monk from Loctudy (the fishing port at the mouth of the river estuary). He built the first bridge across the river estuary, hence the name.
L’eglise Notre Dame des Carmes, built from 1383-1420 in the Gothic style, dominates one of the squares near the river. It has many old statues and a pretty rose window over the high altar.
Besides visiting the church and the old bridge, the main reason to come to Pont l’Abbé is to look for the monument on the river walk that is a tribute to the wives and families of fishermen and to the world of the sea. We found it under a row of trees, surrounded by a colorful flower-bed.
Called The Monument aux Bigoudens (Delwenn ar Bigoudenned, in Breton), it is a masterpiece in granite by Francois Bazin, inaugurated in 1931.
Dressed in the traditional Bigouden fashion from the early 1900s, these four women and a young girl of five years are praying for and thinking of their husbands, fathers and sons at sea. Their contemplative postures show feelings of suppressed and dignified suffering as many fishermen are lost at sea, often in terrible storms. On either side of the women of the statue is a cast bronze bas-relief showing famous Breton legends. It’s worthwhile spending a bit of time trying to figure these out.
Bigouden is an area of Brittany south west of Quimper, the name coming from the
distinctive head-dress worn by the local women of the area. The name then came to designate the women of the area and, later, all its inhabitants.
Driving to Pont l’Abbé makes a very pleasant short day trip from either Quimper or Concarneau (we were based in Concarneau).