Coastal Walking in Brittany

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coastal walking in brittany
Brittany’s coastline stretches to more than 1200kms. From Mont St Michel which goes just into Normandy and along to the Loire. It provides all you could possibly want in terms of sightseeing and gorgeous walks.

The west and north coasts are the best areas to focus on. With the great expanse of wilderness which you don’t see as much with the flatter and more built up parts along the southern shore.

Estuaries such as the Aber Ildut, Aber Wrac’h and that of the Trieux river offer more sheltered and quite often gentler paths.

Sandy beaches, rocky coves, high stark cliffs, low headlands, dunes, wood lined estuaries, marshes and natural harbours all combine to provide an endless variety of view points and remarkable terrain. Geological interest come in the form of the beautiful coloured granites of the north and the volcanic pillow lavas at Lostmarc’h and L’Abor on the Crozon peninsula.

There are many opportunies to study fauna and flora with numerous natural reserves and centres of interpretation where ecology and environmental issues are presented.

The Maison du Littoral on the pink granite coast, the Maison des Dunes at Keremma and the Maison de la Baie d’Audierbe north of Penmarc’h are beautiful places to walk providing effortless views.

Mans impact on the landscape of the coast can be revealed in many structures such as the lighthouses. The one on the Ile Vierge is the highest in Europe. There are daymarks, semaphone stations, look out posts, forts and WWII fortifications. To add to this there are also many coastal chapels and abbeys, which reflect the early arrivals of religious men from Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries.

If you are interested in bird life you should head for the ornithological reserves of Cap-Sizun near the Pointe du Raz or the Baie of Goulven on the northern coast where spoon-bills winter. By the Maison de la Baie d’Audierne you will find an observation town above the marshes of Pays Bigouden. A boat trip to the Sept-Iles from Perros Guirec or the little island of Molene in the Atlantic. You will be rewarded with numerous sightings.

On a day’s walk a brilliant sight to see is the series of forts masterminded by Vauban, Louis XIV’s chief engineer. These were to protect the vital harbour of Brest. You can walk from Pointe St-Mathieu to the city itself. This route also passes the U boat station in Brest and it’s medieval chateau, which contains a good maritime museum.

Another wide-ranging historical walk you could try is the coastal path from St. Malo with it’s walled city. This was also restored after WWII and maritime traditions westwards via Alet, once the capital of the Celtic Coriosolites tribe and now with a museum about the site in a German blockhaus created within an 18th century fort.

You can cross the Rance estuary by ferry to enjoy the 19th century resort of Dinard in the summer season.

The islands are also an excellent place for walking given the fact most are flat and have stunning views all year round.

The Ile de Batz near Roscoff, a 15 min boat trip is perfect for a day out. You have time to go right round and to visit the famous gardens with beautiful plants from all around the world.

In the Gulf of Morbihan, a 16km circuit of the Ile d’Arz provides stunning views of this island-studded inland sea. There are plenty of swimming opportunities and historic interest with the marais salants from the days of a flourishing salt industry.

The Atlantic coast provides spectacular scenery with the Crozon peninsula and Cap Sizun offering dramatic seas, the excitement of the high cliffs. Interesting historical relics from the Neolithic age to the Atlantic wall defences of WWII.

Paths here are demanding with steep descents to coves and towering headlands and the beauty of unspoilt landscape and as vivid a seascape as one could dream of.

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