Hidden away in the heart of Plinn country is a unique contemporary art centre that has given a new lease of life to a once-forgotten heritage site. You don’t arrive at the Abbey of Coat Malouen by chance. Following the narrow roads winding up and down the wooded hillsides, art lovers and walkers come every year from all over Brittany to enjoy an eclectic international programme of events. Yet even regular visitors feel as if they’ve stumbled across an unexpected treasure when they arrive at the ancient Cistercian abbey.
Coat Malouen - art off the beaten track
In a setting from a costume drama, the facade pierced by 21 windows stands proudly, like a film set frozen in time. Playing hide and seek with the perspectives, enigmatic sculptures are scattered amongst the shadows of centuries-old walls, and stop us in our tracks as they create a dialogue with the ancient stones.
An open-air history book
The eye becomes accustomed little by little, and the details come to life. Behind the venerable facade, the foundations of an ancient cloister reveal themselves under our feet. Refectory, almonry - the signs placed here and there discreetly explain the functions of various rooms of the abbey and help us to imagine the lives of the monks who lived here until 1796. The abbatial church is open to the skies, with beautifully carved gravestones among the grass, making the memory of the former occupants almost palpable.
A window onto contemporary art
Finally, we enter the 18th century stables, which now house a renowned contemporary art gallery. Each summer, a carefully chosen artist exhibits their work for the benefit of enlightened amateurs and curious walkers alike. The works leave no-one indifferent: they move as much as they question the viewer, opening a window onto contemporary creation, here, in this most unexpected venue.
Bulat-Pestivien - History carved in granite
A little farther west we head for Bulat-Pestivien, a pretty village renowned for its rich heritage. The church steeple - the highest in the Côtes d’Armor - rises like a lighthouse in the countryside and guides us to this ancient site of pilgrimage. A tour of the village highlights the granite gems such as the finely decorated fountains of the Seven Saints and the Rooster...
We linger awhile in the parish enclosure: the walls of the church are like a granite picture book! Among the carvings of children’s faces and a bestiary of animals appears Ankou, ‘the howling apparition of death’, a figure to chill the blood.
Ch’ty Coz, at the centre of a magical world
It’s a bar, a bric-à-brac shop, and a music venue all in one, attracting artists and musicians from Central Brittany, and it’s also a paradise for lovers of old things. The atmosphere is relaxed and laid-back, and there’s no formality, with everyone mingling happily. Musicians jam, time stands still for a moment. A lovely interlude in a place that’s definitely worth a visit!