Though “beautiful beaches” might not be the first thing that comes to mind when envisioning Brittany, there are, in fact, many gems spread across this rocky coastline. Grassy knolls give way to steep cliffs, which wind along the coast to hidden sandy beaches in inlets and coves. Islands not far from the mainland evoke images of the Caribbean: turquoise waves and stark white sand. Along the Brittany coast, you will find excellent surfing territory and unbelievable views of nature’s wonders.
The Pink Granite Coast looks like something out of a fantasy film. Named for its characteristic pink rocks scattered throughout the beaches. But you’ll not only get to see this natural phenomenon, but also the large historic houses lining the coast; many have turrets and gargoyles and views to die for. Beyond Ploumanac’h, in Perros-Guirec, take a tour of the seven isles to see thousands of Fou de Bassans perching on the islands’ rocky faces and Puffins swimming in the water nearby. Nearer to town, visit L’Oratoire de Saint-Guirec. Walk out to the shrine at low tide to participate in one of the local legends, or take out your camera at high tide to snap a picture of the Saint surrounded by water.
With its orange sand beaches and cliffs and caverns resembling the badlands, Quiberon has earned its nickname “cote sauvage” (savage coast), though it is not without calming beaches as well. The bay is nearly an island, surrounded on three sides by the sea with a stunning view of Chateau Turpault. A popular destination for surfers and snorklers, there is plenty to explore here, both on and off shore, including a lighthouse with stunning views. Nearby there is an equestrian centre where you can take horseback tours of the beach and the surrounding landscape.
On the Glenan Islands, you could just as easily be in the Caribbean. The water is a crystal blue, and the sand is white. On Saint Nicolas, the main island, you will find a beach shaped like a peninsula, jutting into the ocean with beaches on either side. The walk from one end of the island to the other takes only 30 minutes, and there are two restaurants that service the island for the hungry traveller. Throughout the archipelago, you will find everything from the white sand beaches of Saint Nicolas to moss-covered smooth stone beaches to grassy hills rolling almost into the ocean. Here you will not find massive hotels blocking the sun, only wilderness and one or two buildings specifically for beach-goers. A day spent island-hopping here is a day well spent.
The first thing travellers may notice on this island is not the beach, but the architecture. Buildings here are colourful and bright, reminiscent of the Bahamas. Like the Glenan Islands, Bell-ile-en-Mer boasts white sand beaches and turquoise water, but it has its fair share of rocky cliffs, too. La Pointe des Poulains is a particularly breath-taking area known for its rock formations and pillars which are partially submerged in the tide. For a good view of the landscape, climb to the top of Citadel Vauban. You can also peak your head in the museum there to learn about the history of the area.
For good surfing in Brittany, look no further than the Pointe de la Torche along the Amorique Coast just outside of Finistere. Windswept grasses roll over the tops of cliffs that overlook calm beaches not far from this rocky point. Excellent for the outdoor adventurer and beach-goer alike. Climb the lighthouse at Pointe Saint Mathieu for a view of the coast, soak up the natural surroundings: an abundance of ferns, trees that grow up to the edges of cliffs, and slanted slate-like rocks jutting out of a sometimes turbulent sea.