Saint-Jean, seaside resort

From the 1400s onwards, the small town of Saint-Jean-du-Doigt acquired great renown thanks to the relic of John the Baptist and the many pilgrims that were therefore drawn to attend the annual Pardon (see Panel 4, ‘The Fire Pardon’).


At the end of the 1800s, tourism began to boom as people took advantage of the health benefits of bathing in the sea. Some of the larger seaside resorts such as Saint-Malo and Le Croisic opened their first tourism establishments, while smaller, family-focused resorts developed on their own scale: one of these was Saint-Jean-du-Doigt. In the early 1900s, therapeutic reasons for coming to the seaside were no longer necessary: visitors came to enjoy the delights of the beach in a familyfriendly setting. As more tourists came, more accommodation appeared.


Mme Vouaux’s inn opposite the triumphal arch later became ‘L’Hôtel Saint-Jean et des Bains’, welcoming wealthy guests from France and overseas (see the panel on Saint-Jean and Painters). In 1919 this hotel was bought by Mme Philippe, and it expanded through the 1920s, but eventually closed its doors in 1973.

Other hotels and guest houses popped up in Saint-Jean, including L’Hôtel du Pont, which was first built in 1931, extended in 1946 and again in 1969, and still welcomed visitors until 2005; the Hôtel Barazer opened around 1905 and continued until 1965 – since 1966, the town hall has been located here; finally, L’Hôtel de la Plage on rue Saint-Mériadec was a guest house up until World War Two. Various holiday camps opened for children from the cities and thanks to a generous benefactor, the parish of Vanves was able to create two buildings: Ker François near the centre (for the boys) and Ker Thérèse by the sea (for the girls). These two sites continue to welcome teenagers to this day.


In June 1936, French law gave employees in France the right to paid holiday leave, a decision that enabled seaside resorts to develop. However, it was really only after World War Two that most of the population earned a salary, which meant nearly everyone could take a holiday. Thanks to the train line and coach transport, families could come to spend a month in Saint-Jean or even the whole summer, enjoying picturesque views, beautiful landscapes, and the timeless nature of local costumes and traditions. Nowadays, tourism has changed: many hotels have closed, giving way to a variety of holiday homes, and a local campsite opened in 1992, surrounded by greenery and located in the heart of Saint-Jean.