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Lighthouses on the Pointe de Penmarc'h
Lighthouses on the Pointe de Penmarc'h
Coat of arms of Penmarch
Coat of arms
Penmarch is located in France
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Country France
Region Brittany
Department Finistère
Arrondissement Quimper
Canton Le Guilvinec
Intercommunality Pays Bigouden Sud
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Raynald Tanter
Area1 16.39 km2 (6.33 sq mi)
Population (2008)2 5,633
 • Density 340/km2 (890/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 29158 / 29760
Elevation −1–23 m (−3.3–75.5 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Penmarc'h or Penmarch is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in north-western France. It lies 18 km south-west of Quimper by road.


Penmarch is the southwest most township of Pays Bigouden, at the southern end of the Bay of Audierne. It is the most populous township of the Guilvinec's canton, with a population of 5,889 inhabitants in 1999 (21,813 for the entire township).

The territory of the town is particularly flat and a very low altitude. There are many marshy lagoons, some of which have been drained and filled, especially in St. Guénolé to save space or habitat for the installation of local handicrafts.

The municipality consists of four villages:

  • Penmarch-Bourg, formerly known as the Tréoultré;
  • Saint Guénolé (main fishing port);
  • Kerity (fishing port side moving towards the hosting of the craft);
  • St. Pierre (port for very small units).

Many islands or reefs of very variable dimensions punctuate the coast of Penmarch; the most important are the Etocs south of Kerity, and the island St. Nonna west of Saint-Pierre.

The port of Saint-Guénolé has a pass opening due west, thought to be dangerous in rough weather. It is protected by two granite peninsulas: Krugen in the South, and Conq in the northwest. Krugen is connected to the mainland by a sandy isthmus. Conq is connected to shore by an artificial embankment itself protected by concrete blocks to better break the flood wave.

The rocky granite coast (called "savage coast" in St. Guénolé) is interspersed with several beaches:

  • North, the beach of Pors Carn-which extends to the tip of the torch (joint Plomeur);
  • West, the beach of Joy;
  • South, the beach Steir Kerity which begins and continues through Guilvinec.


On the extremity of the peninsula on which it is situated are fortified remains of a town which was of considerable importance from the 14th to the 16th centuries and included, besides Penmarc'h, Saint-Guénolé and Kerity. It owed its prosperity to its cod-banks, the disappearance of which, together with the discovery of the Newfoundland cod-banks and the pillage of the place by the bandit La Fontenelle in 1595, contributed to its decline.

The church of Saint Nouna, a Gothic building of the early 16th century at Penmarc'h, and the church of St. Guénolé, an unfinished tower, and the church of Kerity are of interest. The coast is very dangerous. On the Pointe de Penmarc'h stands the Phare d'Eckmühl, with a light visible for 60 miles. There are numerous megalithic monuments in the vicinity.


Average Temperature for Penmarch, France

January- 6°C. February- 7°C. March- 8°C. April- 10°C. May- 13°C. June 15°C. July- 17°C. August- 17°C. September- 15°C. October- 12°C. November- 9°C. December- 6°C.


Inhabitants of Penmarc'h are called in French Penmarchais. The commune has a greater population than Guilvinec.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1793 1,134 —    
1800 1,166 +2.8%
1806 885 −24.1%
1821 1,462 +65.2%
1831 1,727 +18.1%
1836 1,781 +3.1%
1841 1,783 +0.1%
1846 1,867 +4.7%
1851 1,964 +5.2%
1856 1,987 +1.2%
1861 2,029 +2.1%
1866 2,227 +9.8%
1872 2,431 +9.2%
1876 2,641 +8.6%
1881 2,871 +8.7%
1886 3,238 +12.8%
1891 3,600 +11.2%
1896 4,298 +19.4%
1901 5,068 +17.9%
1906 5,702 +12.5%
1911 6,051 +6.1%
1921 6,735 +11.3%
1926 6,877 +2.1%
1931 7,037 +2.3%
1936 6,956 −1.2%
1946 7,077 +1.7%
1954 7,204 +1.8%
1962 7,652 +6.2%
1968 7,320 −4.3%
1975 6,921 −5.5%
1982 6,463 −6.6%
1990 6,272 −3.0%
1999 5,889 −6.1%
2008 5,633 −4.3%


Penmarch is also home to the 'Droguen' rock.

Literary references

Dorigen, the female protagonist in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Franklin's Tale, has a name similar to this, which may symbolise her obduracy.[citation needed].

See also


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Couliou, Jean-René (1997) La Pêche bretonne. 446 p. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes
  • Foyer de l'enseignement (1950) Grandeurs ... au pays de Penmarc'h: terre et mer. 58 p. Les Amitiés de Lorraine et d'Alsace
  • Le Gallo, Yves (ed.) (1991) Le Finistère de la Préhistoire à nos jours. Ed. Bordessoules
  • Quaghebeur, Joëlle (2001) La Cornouaille du IXe au XIIe siècle. Société archéologique du Finistère
  • Dubois, Xavier (2002) « La Crise sardinière et les Mutations de la conserverie », in: Humbert, M., ed. La Bretagne à l'heure de la mondialisation. Rennes: Presses Universitaire de Rennes; pp. 27–33
  • Duigou, Serge, et al. (2003) Histoire du Pays bigouden. Ed. Palantines
  • Dreyer, Francis & Fichou, Jean-Christophe (2005) L'histoire de tous les phares de France. 316 p. Ouest-France ISBN 2-7373-3704-6; pp. 179–182

External links