On a recent holiday to Brittany, we visited the town of Auray. Auray is a town with a pretty, historical centre. We parked up at a free car park near the Athena Cultural Centre near the Place du Four Mollet and the swimming pool.
From there we walked through the town roughly following the town’s heritage circuit which is marketed on the ground by large, metal, ermine (stoat) buttons. You can pick up a paper copy of the trail leaflet at the tourist information office in Rue du Lait (here there is free wifi available too). Near here is the church of Saint Gildas on the Place Notre Dame. which was completed in 1663. It’s a combination of the Gothic and Renaissance styles and worth a quick visit.
There are lots of attractive buildings to admire around the Place de la République including the town hall which dates from 1782. There are a number of houses on the square with timber frame constructions dating from the 16th century and others from the 17th and 18th. We bought our picnic lunch in La Mie Caline in the Place de la République, where they have a range of ‘meal deal’ style options which you can tailor to your taste and your appetite.
We then strolled down the delightful Rue du Château with its charming houses mostly made of limestone. They’ve mellowed beautifully with age. This road takes you down to the bridge, the quay or quai and the castle. The river here is tidal and the bridge has been repaired and rebuilt several times because of the effects of the tidal forces on it. The current bridge is from the eighteenth century, but most modern traffic uses the newer bridges over the river further out of town.
Auray suffered as a port from competition from better located towns and after the arrival of the railway, the rot really set in. By the beginning of the twentieth century the only goods being transported through Auray’s Saint-Goustan port were wooden poles for the Welsh coal mines. This has meant that the port is very much one of the nineteenth century making it much more picturesque than its modern-day equivalents.
Above the port are the castle ruins and from here you have a great view down over the older parts of the town across the river Auray with their characterful, winding streets.