Concarneau, France’s inseparable link to the fishing industry is acknowledged each year during the lively “Fete des Filet Bleu” (Festival of the Blue Nets). For centuries, the town’s fleet has ventured out to sea to bring home a bountiful (and lucrative) catch of 100,000 tons or so of tuna. With the decline of the importance of fishing to the town, many former canneries have been transformed into new uses.
At the local indoor market by the Port in Centre Ville (City Center), we found a tank of rare Homard Bleu des Glenan (blue NorthEast Atlantic lobsters) at the Poissonnier de Bretagne’s (Brittany fishmonger) stall. The lobsters were selling for 33.90 Euros per kilogram (US$16.95 per pound) which is considerably more than Maine lobsters sell for locally in Maine (USA). However, they are quite delicious — see our next blog covering our luncheon at L’Amiral Restaurant.
Also at the market we bought several cans of the local seafood specialty that dates back to the 19th century, confit de St. Jacques (scallop rillettes). The traditional recipe is unchanged and calls for scallops to be cooked in butter, stored in crockery for several weeks (confit) and then cooked in butter and onions before canning.
Ville Close (Walled City) was fortified in the 14th century and altered two centuries later by the architect Sebastian de Vauban. This walled vestige of medieval days on the Brittany coast sits in the middle of Concarneau’s harbor and is accessed by a drawbridge (on the right in the above photograph).
There is one main street through ViIle Close that is lined with shops, cafes, patisseries, and restaurants. At the eastern end of Ville Close is Saint-Guenole Church, overlooking the harbor passage and the eastern side of the city.
At a patisserie (bakery) in Ville Close we discovered the local specialty pastry — kouignettes. While you can find them in Paris, they originated in Brittany and are best here. As another blogger described them, they are “sort of like a croissant in its layered goodness, only with fewer layers. It’s basically dough with a LOT of butter and sugar, caramelized so that they create a nice crusty layer over and in between the baked dough.” — http://parlezvousloco.com/2013/10/11/. With all the butter and sugar, how could they not be tasty? Of course we had to try several flavors…