Gauguin et les peintres de l'Ecole de Pont-Aven ont séjourné au Pouldu, dans le Finistère sud.
War roudoù livourien ar Pouldu

In the footsteps of the painters of Le Pouldu

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The seaside, the verdant countryside, the wild riverbanks - everything here is inspiring! The painters who initiated the Pont-Aven School made no mistake in sketching the landscapes and their inhabitants at the end of the 19th century. Paul Gauguin, Meyer de Haan and Paul Sérusier, among many others, showcased the region in their paintings.

Paul Gauguin, a star in Le Pouldu

It was in the autumn of 1889 that the first painters settled in the inn run by Marie Henry called "La buvette de la plage". Paul Gauguin, Meyer de Haan, Paul Sérusier and then Filiger came here in search of a quiet, unspoilt spot far from the hustle and bustle of Pont-Aven.

At the time, Le Pouldu was nothing more than a remote seaside village, rarely visited by the wealthy bourgeoisie who preferred the more famous seaside resorts of Brittany. It was a place conducive to creation, where time seemed to stand still. Inspired by the elements and the people of Le Pouldu, the artists spent the winter painting the walls, ceilings, doors and windows of Marie Henry's little boarding house. It was an exceptional setting that gave rise to a new artistic movement: synthesism. Among the finest works was Gauguin's "L'oie", painted directly onto the plaster in the dining room.

Although he did not achieve such recognition during his lifetime, Paul Gauguin is one of the major French painters of the 19the century and one of the most important precursors of modern art.


Paul Gauguin a créé le synthétisme avec ses amis peintres au Pouldu.
Zoom : Marie Henry, a local figure

Born in the neighbouring commune of Moëlan-sur-Mer, Marie Henry (1859-1945) began her working life in Paris as a domestic servant around 1882. She moved to Le Pouldu in 1887 and started work at the Buvette de la Plage in 1888, where she became owner and manager. The area was ideal for opening an inn, as there were many men and women collecting sand and seaweed, which was used to protect the fields. A meal, or even a room, at this inn will give you a chance to rest before you start your hours-long journey.

She welcomed the painters of the Pont-Aven School from autumn 1889 to autumn 1890. One of them, Meijer de Haan, became her lover and she had a daughter, Ida. After their departure, Marie Henry kept several of Paul Gauguin's works to pay off her debts.

She sold her Buvette in 1911 to live in Kerfany, the commune where she was born, before leaving Brittany for good in 1924 to settle in Pierrefeu-du-Var until her death in 1945.


The Marie Henry House, a meeting place for the great painters of Pont-Aven

After the departure of the artists, the works were gradually sold and scattered around the world, from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper. After the departure of Meijer de Haan, Paul Gauguin and Paul Sérusier, Charles Filiger remained alone at the inn. He was the only painter present during the four years that the painters stayed at the inn. It is he who tells the story of this School, a story that continues to be written under the brushes of Emile Bernard, Charles Laval, Maxime Maufra and Pierre Bonnard, all of whom frequented the Buvette between 1892 and 1893.

When Marie Henry left the Buvette in 1893, she also took with her some of the painters' works left behind.

The inn was sold a few years later, changing ownership several times and erasing the memory of its illustrious customers.


Today, Marie Henry's house has become a business. However, the atmosphere of the painters of Le Pouldu lives on in one of the neighbouring houses in the rue des Grands Sables: the Maison-Musée Gauguin. Here you can relive the atmosphere of a late 19th-century inn thanks to sound recordings and the reconstruction of some of the works painted in the original house.

The tour is self-guided, but guided tours are offered by the Maison-Musée team. These are very interesting and provide a deeper insight into the history of the site and its occupants.


  • La Maison-Musée Gauguin retrace l'histoire de Gauguin et ses amis au Pouldu, dans le Finistère sud.
  • Dans le jardin de la Maison-Musée Gauguin, des panneaux retracent l'histoire des peintres du Pouldu.
  • L'intérieur est une reconstitution de la Maison Marie Henry tel qu'elle était au XIXème sicèle.
  • Les ateliers pour enfants sont organisés pendant les vacances scolaires, dans la Maison-Musée Gauguin.

The painters' path, in the footsteps of Gauguin

Once the historical and artistic context has been established, it's time to discover the places and landscapes painted by these artists. There are 2 routes to choose from: 2 km or 5 km. You should allow around half an hour for the first and around 1 hour 45 minutes for the second.

If you opt for the 5km route, you'll enjoy a variety of landscapes, from seaside to riverside to undergrowth. The 2 routes start from the Maison-Musée Gauguin and follow the same path for just over 1 km. Through 19 brand new panels, integrated into the landscape and accessible to all (80 cm high), you'll find the same landscapes that the 19th-century painters saw and painted.


Le Chemin des Peintres retrace l'histoire des peintres de Pont-Aven venu séjourner au Pouldu, en Finistère sud

The route takes you along the seafront, past the coves of Porgastel and Porsguerrec, to the Laïta River and its mouth, which separates Finistère and Morbihan. Once you reach the Kerzellec farm, the 2km route returns to the Maison-Musée. The other route takes you down to the port of Bas-Pouldu and its magnificent view of the Laïta. Follow it for 1 km upstream, before returning to Le Pouldu via the sunken lanes. For those who want to walk even longer, there's the abbey site of Saint-Maurice (add 4 km to your itinerary anyway!).

All the panels look the same, recognisable by their midnight blue colour and large visuals of paintings made some 140 years ago...

The return journey to Le Pouldu takes you along the back roads of this beautiful resort, where you'll find a succession of charming houses and quiet lanes.

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