Guingamp is known throughout France for its football team, En Avant de Guingamp. But it’s also a town rich in history and heritage, which in 2018 was awarded the classification Petite Cité de Caractère® or Little Town of Character. Let’s explore Guingamp together.
To start, we suggest you park in the Place du Vally where the market is held every Friday morning. From there, you’ll have a magnificent view of Château Pierre II, with the basilica of Notre Dame de Bon-Secours towering above.
Next, head for the former prison, just 200 metres away. Construction took place from 1834 to 1840, and the prison was put into service in 1841. It was used as a prison until 1934, and classified as a historical monument in 1997.
It contained 35 cells for male prisoners and 6 cells for women and children. Decommissioned in 1951, it passed into the ownership of the town of Guingamp in 1992.
Today, it is home to the GwinZegal arts centre, where photographic art of exceptional quality is exhibited. It will also soon be home to l’Institut National d’Éducation artistique et culturelle, the National Institute for Artistic and Cultural Education.
The town hall
Near the prison is Guingamp town hall, which is well worth a look. It was originally a convent, built to accommodate the hospitaller nuns who arrived in Guingamp in 1676. The building was a hospital until the Revolution, when it was converted into a prison with the chapel being used as stables.
In 1803, the former convent was given back to the religious order, but as the wards had fallen into ruin, a new hospital was built. The building was later bought by the town, with a view to housing the mairie there. In 1914, the gardens were turned into a public park.
Château Pierre II
From the town hall, the famous rue Notre-Dame shopping street leads to the Château Pierre II, an ancient fortified castle dating from the beginning of the 11th century. Until the 20th century it was home to a primary school.
After redevelopment work starting in 2015, it has become much appreciated by tourists and locals alike, with a magnificent view over the Trieux river which runs below it.
The basilica of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours
From the château, it’s only a short walk to the magnificent basilica of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, one of the must-see Guingamp heritage sites. Construction of the gothic structure began in the 14th century, on the remains of a Romanesque chapel whose foundations date from the 11th century.
Many visitors come to the chapel to see the Black Virgin. Believers show their devotion by lighting votive candles.
The place du Centre
Leaving the basilica, it’s time to head for the Place du Centre with its beautiful half-timbered houses. The famous the 15th century Fontaine de La Plomée has become the symbol of the town, and is a popular meeting place.
Once you’ve completed your little tour of Guingamp centre, you’ll understand why the town had no problem in obtaining the status of Petite Cité de Caractère® in 2018.
The banks of the Trieux
From the Place du Centre, the narrow alleyway le Moulin de la Ville leads to the Trieux river. Cross the footbridges that span the water and take a gentle stroll along the charming wooded river bank. An ideal place for a peaceful walk or jog.
Text by : Publihebdos