Spanning the two communes of Belle-isle-en-Terre and Plounevez-Moëdec, the former Vallee paper factory is now open to the public. At one time among the largest Breton industrial centres employing up to 250 workers, the site has been recently restored. Both artists and ex-employees have participated in this restoration project. The area is now a cultural site, a place for looking back and for walking and exploration.
110 years of activity
Production on the Leguer’s banks in the Vallee paper-mills dates back to 1855. The factory progressively occupied the lower part of the valley, extending its grip with the creation of the Kernansquillec dam in 1920, located 3 kms downstream.
It was ranked among Brittany’s most important industrial concerns, employing just prior to the Second World War more than 250 people, and 1,000 others indirectly. The factory produced nearly 4,000 tons of paper annually, using rags and wood paste, and turning them into school exercise books, blotting paper and food packaging…
The factory closed in 1965 as the result of European competition.
From the Vallee paper-mills to the Valley of the paper-mills.
The demolition of the Kernansquilec dam provided the impetus to a policy of redevelopment of Belle-isle’s industrial heritage. The Vallee paper-mills, opened in 1855 and shut down in 1965, left a huge ruin in the bottom of the Legeur valley. Understandably, local residents initiated a move to save the site disappearing completely. After a period of work and consultation, the first step to site development took place in March 2006. There began a massive undertaking to de-pollute the site followed by landscaping resulting in the site being opened to the public in 2007.
In 2005, several artists began collecting the testimonies of the factory’s ex-employees. During 2006, the same artists attempted to embed this collective memory into the daily consciousness of the local population concerning the rebirth of the Vallee paper-mills, by inviting them to take part in several organised events.
Thus, thanks to an ambitious plan jointly formulated by the Belle-isle and Beg ar C’hra Combined Communes, and encouraged by the support of local associations as well as the general population, since 2007 the Vallee paper-mills have known a new lease of life, by means of cultural and artistic events staged for the benefit of the entire region.
Following in the footsteps of former employees, foremen and factory directors, you can now explore the site, and discover what’s left of the areas of paper production, as well as the site’s more recent attractions (imaginary machines, an experimental garden dedicated to a “green” recapture of the site)…
After that you can take a marked walk which allows you to continue your exploration of the Leguer valley in the direction of the Kernansquillec dam.
Open-air site permanently open to the public
Personal guided tours in summer; group visits on request throughout the year.
Contact : the Tourist Office