© Ot Pays de Douarnenez - Fabrice LE BELLEC

The town of Kerlaz

This village overlooks Douarnenez Bay, with a coastline that you can explore on the tourist trail or the GR34 coastal path. There are various walks from Kerlaz through the Névet Woods, including one circuit that is specially adapted for those of limited mobility.

A bit of history…

The first traces of human occupation date back to Neolithic times (around 3,000BC). Various objects have been found from this period, including axes of flint and polished stone.

The Gallo-Roman period also left its own traces, particularly several remains of salting vats. These vats would have been square or rectangular trenches whose sides were coated with a  sort of cement made from crushed brick. They were used to create a condiment called ‘garum’ that was then exported. Near these vats, we have discovered foundation walls, roof tiles, shards of pottery and Roman coins from the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Once part of Plonevez-Porzay, Kerlaz became its own parish in 1874 and a separate community in 1932.

 

Legends and religion

Go and explore…. the church and churchyard dating back to the 1500s and 1600s. One of the stained-glass windows illustrates the famous myth of the sunken town, Ville d’Ys.

 

According to legend, Gradlon King of Cornouaille was born in the 3rd century AD. He fell in love with Queen of the North, Malgven, half-woman, half-fairy, and they headed out on the oceans with Gradlon’s horse, named Morvac’h. King Gradlon and Malgven had a daughter, called Dahut, and when the Queen died, Gradlon and his daughter returned to the area and converted to Christianity, on the advice of Saint Guénolé. Gradlon ordered a magnificent and vainglorious city to be built for his daughter: it was called La Ville d’Ys.

Every day, Princess Dahut took a new lover, who would be killed the next morning, suffocated by a mask. One day, a prince dressed in fine, purple clothes presented himself at the gates of the town: it was the devil himself. Dahut was seduced by this apparent prince and gave him the keys to the floodgates that protected the town.

The devil opened the floodgates, and sure enough the whole town and its people were drowned. Only King Gradlon on his faithful horse and Saint Guénolé were able to escape. Princess Dahut transformed into a mermaid named Morgane, who still tries to take sailors under the waves, to this very day. Broken-hearted, King Gradlon finally settled at the end of the River Odet, in the place we now call  Quimper.

 

The Marin Coathalem Biscuit Factory

Since it began in 1960, the Marin Coathalem biscuit factory has been based in Douarnenez Bay, home to the famous Kouign Amann butter cake, and it strives to uphold the skills and know-how that date back to 1860. The company makes traditional, local specialities including kouign amann, gâteau breton, palet breton and galette bretonne.

Try these traditional delicacies yourself!
Visit of the biscuit factory: 45 minutes
Visits are also possible for groups throughout the year

 

Saint-Germain Church in Kerlaz

Kerlaz was once a branch of Plonevez-Porzay, becoming its own parish in 1874, then a separate community in 1932. This church, dedicated to Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, was built in the shape of a Latin cross. Certain elements from the 1500s remain, including the southern porch (1572, 1576), the ossuary (currently used as a font for baptisms) the southern and northern sides and the apse.

During the 1600s, the western gable-end was completely rebuilt (1620, 1630, 1635) in a new style: a triangular pediment supported by smooth, curved columns, Ionic capitals framing scalloped recesses resting on a stylobate base. You find the same disparity between the turrets built in the style of the 1500s and the railings whose supports show the influence of the 1600s.

 

Additional:

– stone font from 1779, at the back of the church.

– statues: in the choir, two wooden recesses from the 1600s house multi-coloured stone statues representing both Saint Germain (1600s) and a Virgin and Child, whose base is dated 1566.

– stained-glass windows: a beautiful series of glass from the workshops of Léglise (Paris) created in 1917 and 1918, representing Christ’s Passion (the master window), the life of Saint Even, Saint Hervé, historic episodes (1792 and 1793), commissioned in 1658 in Kerlaz y Father Maunoir.

– a triumphal arch built in 1558 leads through to the cemetery.

 

Névet Woods, a place for walking and relaxing, in the heart of nature