A typical Breton village (“Petite Cité de Caractère”)
The village has been awarded the title of “Petite Cité de Caractère”, Guéméné owes its name to a feudal motte erected in 1050 when Lord Guégant, the Seigneur set up his commandery there. The name “Kemenet” which became Guéméné in the 15th century, evolved to Guéméné-sur-Scorff in 1801. The simple feudal motte was replaced in the 12th century by a stone fortress built by Alain 1st de Rohan. The town grew little by little around the castle and was raised to the status of principality in 1570. The prestige of this new status brought with it considerable development and administrative importance. The beautiful buildings which the visitor can admire today in the historic centre date back to this period. The history of the town is intrinsically linked to that of the Rohan-Guéméné family, a long line of great builders whose visionary construction works continued over several generations.
A stroll along the lanes and narrow backstreets of the historic centre of Guéméné is a must to discover the charm of the old dwellings, a worthy legacy from the Middle Ages. The squire’s house, the former coach house, the Seneschal’s house (the Seneschal was a senior court official appointed by the crown) and the merchants’ houses. If you want to learn more about these ancient buildings then you should stop off at the tourist office where you can pick up a booklet which describes a very pleasant walk round the village. The remains of the castle can still be visited: the Great Ramparts, the Guards’ room and the spiral staircase in the Prison Tower, the Rohans’ grand gatehouse and bridge. Among these imposing remains, there are also “Les Bains de la Reine”, which are definitely worth a visit. This private steam room was built by Jean 1st de Rohan for his wife, Jeanne de Navarre. A legacy from the Roman underfloor heating system and Turkish baths, they were reserved for only the very highest nobles. There are currently less than ten hypocaust chambers in France.
However, architectural heritage is not the village’s only asset. Indeed, you cannot mention the name Guéméné without immediately thinking of the famous “andouille sausage” and the dedicated artisans who produce this local speciality which is the pride of the inhabitants of Guéméné. A celebration of this famous “andouille sausage”, recommended by the greatest of French gastronomic chefs, is the original theme behind the festival held each year at the end of August in the village.