Lighthouses on the Pointe de Penmarc'h
Lighthouses on the Pointe de Penmarc'h
Coat of arms of Penmarch
Location of Penmarch
Penmarch is located in France
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Penmarch is located in Brittany
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Coordinates: 47°48′46″N 4°20′12″W / 47.8127°N 4.3366°W / 47.8127; -4.3366Coordinates: 47°48′46″N 4°20′12″W / 47.8127°N 4.3366°W / 47.8127; -4.3366
Country France
Region Brittany
Department Finistère
Arrondissement Quimper
Canton Pont-l'Abbé
Intercommunality Pays Bigouden Sud
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Raynald Tanter
16.39 km2 (6.33 sq mi)
 (Jan. 2018)[1]
 • Density 310/km2 (810/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
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.

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 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 has 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);
  • Saint-Pierre (port for very small craft).

Many islands or reefs of very variable dimensions punctuate the coast of Penmarch; the most important are the Étocs islets south of Kerity, and the island of Saint-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 the shore by an artificial embankment itself protected by concrete blocks to better break the flood wave.

The rocky granite coast (called "savage coast" in Saint-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 at and continues through Guilvinec.


St Nonna's Church, Penmarch

On the extremity of the peninsula on which Penmarc'h is situated are the 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 known to be very dangerous for sailors. On the Pointe de Penmarc'h stands the Phare d'Eckmühl, with a light visible for 100 km (60 mi). There are numerous megalithic monuments in the vicinity.


Penmarch has a climate bordering between Mediterranean (Köppen Csb) and oceanic (Cfb). It is heavily moderated by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream influence, resulting in cool summers and very mild winters for the latitude as seasonal differences are low.


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%

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


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 the local rock, which may symbolise her obduracy.[citation needed].

See also


  1. ^ "Populations légales 2018". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 28 December 2020.
  2. ^ "French climate normals 1981-2010". Météo Climat. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Weather extremes for Penmarch". Météo Climat. Retrieved 19 September 2018.

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