10 Top Things to Do in Quistinic
Nestled in the verdant forested countryside in the Blavet Valley in Southern Brittany, the commune of Quistinic and it’s neighbours offer tranquil villages, beautiful scenery and amazing historical places.
Situated in the centre of Southern Brittany, Quistinic is the ideal location to access all of Southern Brittany’s delights, as well as offering a fascinating historical village and plenty of fun events and activities within the commune itself.
Quistinic (meaning chestnut) with a population of 1 400 and area of 42,95 km2, forms part of the super-commune of Lorient, ancient home to the French East India company and it’s rich maritime history and the premier submarine base in WWII.
The Blavet river, part of the Nantes-Brest canal system, borders the commune to the east and south – providing safe tow paths for walkers and cyclists, a river beach at Minezan and kayaking and water-skiing.
The Blavet river gives easy access points for fishermen with great course and salmon fishing.
Yes, there is even more sightseeing and activities slightly further afield, but with perfection on your doorstep, why bother?
A major tourist attraction in the region, the 16C-18C immaculately reconstructed thatched village of Poul-Fetan provides an interesting glimpse back in history to a bygone era of traditional life.
Activities include pottery, bread-making, animal and land husbandry with protected species and ancient grain varieties, crêpe making, wool-spinning and wash-days. And if that is not enough, kids can enjoy traditional Breton games.
There is a baker, pottery shop and reasonably priced tourist shop.
At the inn, you can quench your hunger with a traditional lunch. You can also get sandwiches and snacks and in July and August you can pre-order picnics. The bar serves Breton beer or cider.
Poul-Fetan recommend 4-5 hours for the visit.
The lively cider festival is held at the end of September.
If you wish to walk from the gîtes, it is a 10km round trip through the forested countryside.
2. Minezan beach & bar
Everyone dreams on holiday to find that special place which only the locals know – unspoilt and unpretentious!
Look no further; head to the Ecluse de Minezan on the Blavet River for a relaxing day at the river beach or an aperitif at the rustic bar, which can be found just after the lock house.
Our review provides more information, but here you can just relax and watch the world stroll by; either on bicycle, foot or kayak.
3. Art in the Chapels
Art in the Chapels
The Art in the Chapels (L’Art dans les chapelles) exhibition held in the Blavet Valley is a marvellous opportunity to explore the beautiful Breton countryside, chapels that are seldom open to the public and some contemporary art.
There are 4 different driving circuits through some of the most amazing countryside, dotted with small recluse chapels to elaborate and amazingly grand chapels. Keep an eye out for the “sablier”, wooden carvings unique to the Breton culture carved into beams of the church.
The red driving circuit comes through the commune of Quistinic taking in the quaint chapel of St Tugdual and some delightful and unique chapels in the neighboring communes. The actual driving time for the red circuit is about 1 hour.
The information office is at the amazing Saint-Nicodème which towers over the surrounding countryside and a good point to pick up further information on the circuits and more detailed maps.
4. World War II
World War II
Spend a day discovering the places in history of the brave men and women of Quistinic during WWII. If you click on the names in bold below you can find the location of the site.
When a guest found many American issued empty cartridges around our bread oven, it started us on a course of investigation into the resistance here in Quistinic.
We understand that the main German camp was situated near the chateau in St-Yves Bubry and that there were many resistance strongholds in the surrounding hamlets.
37 inhabitants of Quistinic and surrounding areas were arrested in February 1944, with 12 being transported to Germany and 4 dying in the deportation.
The first real battle in Morbihan against the Germans took place on the 13 April 1944, in the communes of Naizin and Pluméliau. The next day, the Naizin resistance began to move their weapons, ammunition and explosives to the village of Locmaria in Quistinic.
This was followed, on the 15 April 1944, by the resistance attacking a German anti-aircraft gun at Picot-Loge near Kergroix in Quistinic, killing 2 Germans. However, the retaliation by the Germans was severe. 4 people were shot and tortured and 50 young men were rounded up and forced to work in Germany.
On 21 April 1944, 3 resistance members were arrested at Locmaria. They were horribly tortured before being taken back to Quistinic, where they were forced to disclose a cache of weapons in the Kerdinam woods. They were then exhibited in the village on the back of a truck, then brought back to the cache of arms where they were executed. It is there that their tortured bodies were found on 23 April 1944 in a pit, called since “the martyrs hole”.
Turning the tide
As part of the D-day operations, on the 5 and 6 June 1944, roughly 200 Free French SAS paratroopers and 3,000 resistance concentrated in the St Marcel region in Morbihan with the intention of preventing or at least delaying the arrival of 100,000 German reinforcements on the Normandy front (Operation Dingston). After the battle of St-Marcel on the 18 June 1944, the fighters were forced to scatter and the Germans led an intensive search throughout Morbihan.
24 July 1944 – Chapelle du Cloître
On the 24 July 1944, 14 members of the resistance were executed in one day:
The 16C-17C Chapelle du Cloître, tucked away in the forests, was used as an infirmary for the resistance. A collaborator gave away the location, and the Germans arrived. Four members managed to escape carrying one of the injured away in a wheel-barrow. The remainder, including the staff and the injured were all killed. The escapees were subsequently found and killed except for Marcel Le Pallec who survived by hiding in the hamlet of Locuhenen. Marcel Le Pallec passed away in July 2018 aged 93.
Afterwards, on the same day, the Germans burnt the hamlet of Kerbourden (which is the hamlet next to ours), which was a stronghold for the resistance. One person was killed and the others fled to Locunolé where they hid in a hayloft.
At the end of the summer, the Germans in Bubry and Quistinic withdrew to Lorient, around the submarine base, which they held until a ceasefire was agreed only on the 7 May 1945, with the surrender on the 10 May 1945, two days after VE day.
At Kerdinam, there is a memorial to the 27 resistance fighters who died during the war, near to the arms cache where three resistance fighters were executed on 21 April 1944. This is also where most of the wounded who tried on 24 July 1944 to escape from the infirmary of the Chapel of the Cloister were slaughtered.
Like many Breton villages, many lives were lost in both wars. The war memorial in Quistinic pays homage to the huge loss of life this small town suffered during both wars.
5. Walking & Cycling
Walking & Cycling
The commune of Quistinic is a rambler’s delight with more than its fair share of marked paths through magnificent and magical hilly terrain. The Blavet River provides kilometres of easy paths along its safe towpath, suitable for all levels of walker.
Pathways (chemins) lead directly from our gîtes and these link up with major pathways and walking routes for Quistinic and Bubry.
Considered one of the best walks in Brittany, the Circuit des Chapelles covers 29 km (but you can do sections only). Walking time of the entire circuit is 7 h and 3 h by bicycle.
It is possible to take mountain bikes on the paths but do take care for hidden rocks and there will be places where it is necessary to dismount as the path is too steep or narrow.
Bicycles can be hired at the Base Nautique at Pont Augan and we have a large range of bicycles available for guests at our gîtes.
6. Quistinic town
The town, or may I say village, of Quistinic has a splendid location high on the hill overlooking the Blavet Valley with some beautiful ancient buildings.
The 18C church of St Pierre is a historical monument with a notable bell tower which sits alongside the quaint ornate chapel of St Mathurin.
Memorial & Fountains
The war memorial sits next to the chapel of St Mathurin and just a little bit further down the hill you will find the first fountain. Wander further down the Rue de la Fountaine and you find find the ancient washing house and another delightful fountain.
Tea Rooms, Bars & Restaurants
If you want to treat yourself, pop into the immaculate tea rooms at Dimask (behind the church) for some tea, coffee or wine with the most delightful pastries; some with a Moroccan twist. Or alternatively, stay for a light lunch. You can also pick up organic bread, cheese, chocolates and cakes!! Exceptional service! You won’t be disappointed.
There is also the friendly bar and restaurant St Mathurin opposite the church.
For a little bit of retail therapy you can visit Miripili, both shop and workshop for authentic handcrafted wooden toys, or Le Bonheur Des Orges for some scrumptious artisan made nougat. There is a small market for local producers on Wednesday evenings (17h-19h) or Friday morning (9h-12h30).
For the more energetic, you could tie in your visit with the 9.5 km (2.5 hour) Town Walk which includes Poul Fetan (Circuit du Bourg).
Whatever you do, take a stroll to the parking below the delightfully named primary school, Le Chat Perché, to soak up the most amazing views over the wooded Blavet Valley.
7. Horse riding
With so much open space, forests and paths, it is no wonder that Quistinic is a horse lovers paradise and one can often see horses passing through the chemins.
There are many horse riding stables in the surrounding area and the National Stud, the Haras d’Hennebont, for pure breed horses down the road at nearby Hennebont.
Then Quistinic offers, in addition, two special alternative experiences:
8. West Wake Park
West Wake Park
Whilst West Wake Park is in the commune of Inzinizac-Lochrist, it is quicker to get to than the other side of Quistinic, so this major fun attraction to the area must join this list.
West Wake Park is a water-lovers paradise and has two major activities; a Wake Park (for water-skiing and other variations by cable) and an Aquapark (an inflatable pay zone). Please see our full review for further information.
Brittany has some of the best fishing rivers and lakes in France with the Blavet River having some of the finest fishing.
The Blavet Valley river system has over 28 fishing rivers and streams – all available to anyone with a permit. With the commune of Quistinic bordered on two sides by the Blavet River you couldn’t be in a better location if fishing is your fancy or you just wish to give it a go!
Types of fish
Fish in the Blavet River include salmon, trout, bream, pike, perch, zander, roach, carp, eel and dace. Close by, the Sebrevet river is ideal for trout.
Carp and white fish can be fished all year round, carnivorous fishing opens on the 1st May and closes the last Sunday of January. Check the specific regulations for Salmon fishing. Salmon fishing only goes upstream to Minazen.
The permits are all a reasonable price: Daily €11 and Weekly €32. For children under 12 it is cheaper to choose the annual fishing permit at €6. For children from 12-18 the annual permit is €20. These can be purchased online at www.cartedepeche.fr or at Bar Creperie Le Saint-Mathurin in Quistinic or Bar Tabac La Croix Verte in Bubry. A photo is required for the permit.
For buying your permit online, you will need to know the area you wish to fish in (which is Quistinic) and which association you fall under. If you are fishing at Minezan the association is AAPPMA du Pays de Lorient and if it is further upstream it is the AAPPMA La Truite Baudaise.
Hugely popular, there is nothing more French than partaking of a little bit of kayaking on the Blavet River. Because it is a canalised river, it makes for easy kayaking for all levels in the heart of the Blavet Valley.
Rent canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddles or bicycles at Base Nautique in Pont-Augan.
July & August 10h-18h every day
All other times by reservation.
Hourly or Day rental
Hire kayaks (1 place) or canoes (2 place) by the hour starting from €7 per hour.
Alternatively, the club offers various canoeing tours, with transfer by mini-bus included starting at 11h (reservation recommended & bring along a picnic):
RANDO « SAINT-ADRIEN » – 12 € per person
Duration: 1h30 to 2 h – 4,5 km
Departure: écluse de Saint-Adrien
RANDO « TALHOUËT » – 18 € per person
Duration: 2 à 3 h – 7 km
Departure: écluse de Talhouët
RANDO « BOTERNEAU » – 22 € per person
Duration: 5 à 6 h – 10 km
Departure: écluse de Boterneau
Another option is to go by bike and return by canoe:
RANDO « CANOË-VÉLO » – 20 € per person
Departure/Return: Base Nautique de Pont-Augan
- must be able to swim 25 meters
- parental permission for minors
- wear a mandatory life-jacket.
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