This large peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic ocean on the western fringes of France and has over 600 miles of rugged coastline. High cliffs at Cap Frehel, pink granite coast or sandy beaches, battered by ocean storms and home to some of the highest tides in the world.
The first Celtic migrants arrived in the 5th Century after being driven out of Britain by invaders, later followed by the another wave of Britons to arrive in the 19th Century as the first tourists to the area, the latter one continues annually to this day like in Dinard.
Between the pirate port of Saint-Malo and more recent ports such as Lorient, can be found smaller fishing ports such as Concarneau. Local seafood and the famous Cancale and Belon oysters can be found in almost all local restaurants, surely using the Guérande sea salt in their best recipes.
The old city is still surrounded by its high granite walls which kept away the invaders in the past, and is still a good protection against the assaults of the sea nowadays.
Fishing, commercial, passenger and military harbor, St Malo was the starting point for many seafarers who explored the New World since the 16th C : the most famous is Jacques Cartier, a native, who is one of the discoverers of Canada.
Other adventurers took part of the renown and the wealth of the walled-city : the privateers ! Duguay-Trouin, Surcouf are famous all over France. They were pirates who were accepted by the king (as far as they only attacked the ships of the English and Dutch enemies) ! Their exploits are repeated generation after generation on the docks of St Malo.
Transformed into a German fortress during World War II, when France was occupied, the city was bombarded by the Allies, before being liberated by American Forces in august 1944. The city was in ruins (except the walls) but was beautifully restored after the war.
The visit : walk along the city wall to watch the show of the sea which colors varies according to the sun from deep blue to emerald green, with many small scattered rocks and islands. Inside the walls, granite streets and homes, the Manor of “la Houssaye”, the castle, the cathedral where Jacques Cartier was buried, many stores, crêperies or sea-food restaurants.
Elegant international beach resort, Dinard was first started by an American as a competitor for Brighton, England, in the 1860’s. The magnificent changing views over the Rance estuary rapidly attracted numerous painters, as well as writers, such as Lawrence of Arabia and Agatha Christie.
Discover the most beautiful villas around the Pointe du Moulinet and Pointe de la Malouine separated by the Ecluse beach and its gambling casino and sea-water swimming pools. You can’t miss to appreciate the phenomenal tides reaching 40 feet on certain days, that were used by tide mills in the past and have inspired the French government to use this renewal energy. As early as the 1960’s was built a 750-yard long dam that houses the 24 turbines of this power station.
You will be amazed by Cancale, a small fishing harbor, nestling at the foot of granite cliffs, in the bay of Mont St Michel. Traditional granite houses, the oyster market, the smell of the sea, it’s so picturesque !
The sea ebbs from 4 to 9 miles, and the colorful boats lay down in the silt until the tide rises to let them float again. At high tide, the English Channel takes wonderful colors : emerald green, turquoise blue…
Take the time to try and eat the famous local oysters, already well-known at the time of the Romans in Antiquity ! Or maybe have lunch with mussels and French fries. Shrimps, prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish, everything you will find here is locally fished, and so fresh !
Founded in 1666 by Colbert, the Sun King’s Prime Minister, as an extension of the Port-Louis base of the French East Indies Company, the port of Lorient became the operative base for the entire French Company of the Indies in the 18th century.
Unfortunately in WWII, for its strategic location, the Germans built 3 massive submarine bases for a total of 20 U-boats. This forced the Allies to bomb the area so much that it resulted in the destruction of most of the town.
The German garrison though surrendered here only 2 days after V-E Day !
Considered a sacred hill by the Celts and culminating at around 1.000 feet, this natural site offers exceptional panoramic views : to the west over the tip end of the Brittany peninsula and the port of Brest and the Douarnenez bay, looking east towards the hinterland and the area of the “Black Mountains” including Monts d’Arree.
The beauty of the countryside here is well preserved owing to its status as a protected Natural Park.
This portion of the Armor Coast in northern Brittany took its name from the pink color of the granite found locally.
The wind and rain erosions have shaped the most intriguing rock piles and formations, locally known as Napoleon’s Hat, the Elephant or the Umbrella…
Follow the coastal path between Perros-Guirec and Ploumanac’h for gorgeous views out to the sea and the Seven-Isles archipelago bird reserve. You will find a dozen beaches and a charming little lighthouse, as you pass the Pointe de Squewel.
This rugged part of the coastline made of 230 feet high cliffs is now a protected natural area.
This big Frehel Cape is made of pink sandstone and is covered with the typical heather and gorse local landscape.
For the maritime traffic along the Emerald Coast, the point is crowned by two lighthouses, one of the 17th century and the other from the 20th.
Sheltered in a protected corner, the medieval Fort La Latte castle is still privately owned but can be visited, after passing two draw bridges.
The old center of Concarneau is a fortified island on the Moros estuary, surrounded by 16th century granite walls where you can get great views over the harbor or out to the bay.
You will enter passing two bridges, a triangle courtyard and an inner moat and you may take a little ferry to the other side of the harbour.
Fishing village that traditionally went for sardine, cod, tuna fish and whale, in 1900 the canning industry employed almost a third of the population.
Medieval town enclosed by fortification walls from the 14th and 15th centuries, protected by 6 towers and moat, Guérande can be entered through one of six massive gates, like the impressive Saint-Michel Gate.
The area is most famous nationwide for its production of a delicious sea salt.
5.000 acres of salt marshes where the sea enters at high tide and where the water evaporates naturally have allowed the salt-panning industry to continue since the 15th century.