Artistic walk in Douarnenez

Douarnenez’ s history is intimately linked with that of the legendary town of Ys. In 2019 The town of Douarnenez and the cities housing organisation asked several artists to embellish the town centre with their works of art. The theme of this walk is the legend of the town of Ys. The circuit will be completed over several years.. Bas van Zuijlen, one of the artists picked up the plan to make this guide along the sculptures, designed furniture and frescoes already in place in 2020.

And please visit the workshops of the numberous artists and craftsmen that you will find in Douarnenez.

Have a good time.

Céramic sculptures by Bas van Zuijlen :

  1. Saint Gwenolé, 11 rue Michel de Nobletz
  2. The musicians of Ys ,9 Boulevard Camille Reaud
  3. The refugies of the town of Ys, 2 rue E. d’Orves
  4. King Gradlon riding Morvarc’h, Market hall
  5. Dahut, fallen in the sea, Market hall

Other artists :

a) The town of Ys, fresco by Rose-O, Passage Jean Bart.

b) The town of Ys under the sea’s surface, fresco by Maëlle Daoudal and Clara Passuto, passage Tillon

c) Urban furniture by Annelise N’Guyen, rue du centre

d) Dahut, fresco by Fanch Mao, rue Barbusse

Bas van Zuijlen is a Dutch ceramist. Living and working in Brittany, France. His workshop is located in the village of Plobannalec-Lesconil. He is also member of the local artist’s association MAD in Dz : « My inspirations for this project are issued from the unique figures placed on the arches of the St. John’s Cathedral in my hometown ‘ Hertogenbosch. These figures are full filled with humour. They are a part of the cities life and you can find reproductions of those sculptures even on the carnival wagons. I wish these figurines in Douarnenez can also find their way into the life of the Douarnenez people. If they inspire carnavalesque caricatures or if you meat « under the musicians », I will have succeed. »

Dahut, the most beautiful girl in Ys and Quimper. Princess, daughter of the king Gradlon and the magician Malgven. She disliked the sober and pure life. So she asked her father for a place to live outside the town of Quimper. In one night the town of Ys was magically build in the swamps. In those times Ys was protected from the seas by a high wall and flood doors. Dahut lived there a life of parties and made it a den of iniquity. Every night an other men would share its bed. Men no one would see ever again.. One night the red prince in person seduced the young girl. He asked her for the keys of the flood doors. In exchange for one night of loving she took them from her fathers neck. The Devil opened the the town’s flood doors and the city was drowned .

Saint Gwenolé came towards the king and threw Dahut in the water. Saint Gwenolé was king Gradlon’s confident and best friend. After the disaster of Ys he came to save his friend. He ordered him to leave Dahut in the roaring sea. But the good king refuses. Saint Gwenolé throws Dahut in the water using his holy staff. The second this « bad » woman touches the surface of the water, she changes into a Siren and the waters stop moving. Numerous seamen of Douarnenez will say you they still hear her singing some misty days,…

King Gradlon looks backwards to his girl which just fell into the sea. What can he think of ? Is he sorry he has not been a good father ? Does he feel regrets he didn’t ever say no or stop to his daughter ? Is he angry towards his friend Gwenolé ? Maybe is he grief-stricken ? Does he think about the way he administered or did not administer the town of Ys ? Al these feelings he must feel at the same time, he cannot share them with any one. A king stands alone . His mythical horse Morvarc’h will bring him to land. Home, in Quimper, where this King will live the rest of his sober life tinged with sadness.

« Musicians of Ys » : I also wanted to show the ordinary people of Ys. So I created these three women in a small boat. Three women will continue their feast and joyful life looking over Douarnenez bay. The place where the legendary town of Ys is lying underwater. In Douarnenez a lot of parties and music is taking place.I wanted the people of Douarnenez to recognize themselves in these musicians. These musicians are women, because in the legend it’s Dahut, a woman, who is the bad person, and Gradlon and Gwenolé are the good guys. But in real life it’s often women who bring joy and goodness. Today in 2020, I couldn’t just show the bad, rotten, spoiled seductress and sinner Dahut. It was necessary to add its counterpart the modern, good and liberated women.

The refugees of Ys The legend of Ys speaks only little about the residents of Ys. But when a complete city gets destroyed by the selfish fault of their leaders, there are always refugees. Here you see a family who goes of on the sea. Two parents and their baby and a loaf of bread. The boy is full of hope for a miraculous catch.

At the same time this sculpture talks about our worlds drama. It tells the story of all these people who have qualities, and joys of life. Those who just have experienced some bad adventure of which they try to get away. Exactly as this family coming to us from over time. This legend is so old, it can only be a true story, telling us the misfortune of our time, our history and our future,..

Contact the artist Bas van Zuijlen to command a sculpture at or 06 06 48 87 30.

For the other artists of the Douarnenez circuit please contact the cultural service at Douarnenez town hall.

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