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Review: Daoulas


Finistere, France

Medieval town with a ruined abbey

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2493 reviews

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  • Sep 2011
  • Husband

129 people found this review helpful

This is a small medieval town which developed around a 12thC abbey. Its prosperity was based on linen and kaolin industries. It is a workaday small town with solidly built stone buildings and a good range of small shops.

Climbing up to the abbey there are some nice 16thC granite houses on rue de l’eglise. The Abbey Church is now the parish church and is a fairly plain building surrounded by a graveyard. The original porch has been moved to the entrance of the churchyard. Opposite is the smaller Chapelle de Ste-Anne opposite which had a nice altar piece.

The Abbey ruins are up the road, tucked away behind the church. The abbey was founded in 12thC by the Viscount of Leon who established an order of Augustinian canons. The canonical rights were suppressed in 1790 and the abbey church became the parish church and the rest of the buildings were sold. Some parts of the abbey were demolished, others fell into a ruinous state. After the second world war a school was established in the grounds.

The ticket office is in the main gateway and there is a short AV presentation in the old stable area. Beyond is a small courtyard. To the left is the school with the modern exhibition rooms and shop beyond. To the right is the Abbot’s House which is now the administration centre for the abbey The cloisters are beyond this. Three sides remain with pillars and round arches. The original cloisters were destroyed during the revolution but were reconstructed during the 19thC. They now enclose a private garden.

Beyond the cloisters, steps lead up to the medicinal garden which is divided up into neat plots with a selection of herbs growing, all labelled. There is an extensive and pleasant garden with grass and mature trees. At the far end of the garden is the oratory and fountain. The oratory is a small rectangular 16thC building with altar and statues inside. The fountain is a splendid structure with the date 1550. It is supposed to treat the eyes. The water flows flows through as series of small basins.

The water from the fountain flows into the monks washroom which is made from large slate slabs. Near it is a 20thC building that was used as a laundry room by the school.

A stream flows through the garden into a pond which has flowers around it. The area is supposed to be grasses by Quessant sheep but none were visible the day we visited.

Daoulas is well off the tourist trail and receives few visitors. The only reason to visit is for the abbey.

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