Along the northern coast of Brittany, on the western side of the Bay of Saint-Brieuc between the tiny
seaside towns of Binic and the Pointe de l’Arcouest is the Goëlo Coast. From the bay of Saint-Brieuc to the blue roofs of Paimpol is a protected natural area that offers visitors gorgeous landscapes
stretching along wild rugged cliffs that overlook the sea. Dramatic coastal inlets shelter romantic secluded beaches, charming marinas, and centuries old fishing ports. Walking along the quays of
these ancient ports you will see several islands resting offshore, and one of the gems of the entire Goëlo area: the Ile de Bréhat. This island of luxurious vegetation and charming country mansions
has been called the "Island of flowers and pink rocks" to describe its dual geographical constitution. One side is lush with vegetation while the other is a moody moonscape of rose-colored granite.
The seaside villages here enchant travellers with their old-world charm and the local inhabitants will make you feel at home with their warm hospitality..... What are you waiting for?
Moving northwest towards Paimpol along the Côte de Goëlo, the shoreline becomes wilder and harsher and the seaside towns tend to be crammed into narrow rocky inlets or set well back in river estuaries.
A delightful harbour surrounded by meadows, with a thin strip of beach, rich in history where, in the
shade of the large shipowners' houses, one still feels the atmosphere of the long voyages in the remote times of sail shipping. The quays with the names of corsairs testify to the wealth of earlier
times. In the heart of this small town, pleasure boats, animated events and shops intermingle, creating the extraordinary alchemy given by a city of light always on the move. Not surprising if,
nowadays, Binic remains, all year round, the favourite place for walkers and continues to be called "The Côtes d'Armor beauty spot".
There is a decent (if rather expensive) Hôtel Benhuyc, 1 Quai Jean-Bart (tele: 02.96.73.39.00 http://www.benhuyc.com, €40–55; closed Jan). At present it is closed until May 2007 for extensive renovations and refurbishment.
A popular seaside resort that owes its name to an Irish monk - St Ké - who,
legend has it, landed on this coast c472. A rocky fringe known as the Roches de St-Quay shelters the beautiful beaches -Casino, Chatelet, and Comtesse. Walk along the quay and try one of the seafood
restaurants, where local lobsters are available, though at a price.
The Ports - The tidal port at Portrieux used to equip fleets bound for Newfoundland. Nowadays, it is the lively home of the fishing fleet which fishes for Mackerel. Pollack, Bass and, from November to April in particular, scallops and shellfish. The new deep-sea harbour opened in 1990, has 950 berths for pleasure boats and 100 for fishing boats. There is a regular crossing to the Channel Islands during the summer, also the opportunity to take a boat out to Ile de Bréhat.
Chemin de Ronde – The best time to walk this former customs officers' path is at high tide. Leave the port just the town hall and skirt Comtesse Beach, pass in front of the Viking stele and the signal station. At which point you will have breathtaking views of St-Brieuc Bay, from Bréhat to Cap Frehel. Continue on the promenade overlooking Plage du Chatelet, round the seawater pool and onto Casino Beach. For those who really enjoy a long walk, you could continue to Greve St-Marc.
Heading north from St-Quay, the coastal road drifts inland, through PLOUHA, a small village with numerous villas that belong to Navy pensioners. It is also the traditional boundary between French-speaking and Breton-speaking Brittany. A worthwhile diversion is the village of KERMARIA-AN-ISQUIT, signposted off the D21 from Plouha, with the extraordinary medieval frescoes of a Danse Macabre in its thirteenth-century chapel (daily 9am–noon & 2–6pm; donation). They show Ankou (see Myths & Legends), who is death or death's assistant, leading 47 representatives of every social class in a Dance of Death. An encounter between three living nobles out hunting and three philosophical corpses is also depicted, and there's a statue of the infant Jesus refusing milk from Mary's proffered breast.
A small village with an interesting church that was built in 15th -16th centuries. It has south porch
flanked by buttresses with niches and with St.Lupas and St.Giles standing on the pediment. On ornate corbles, the twelve apostles are carved in granite and precede a doorway topped by a 14th century
virgin. The tomb of Guy Ropartz is in an alcove to the right of the porch.
To the west of Lanloup is PLÉHÉDEL, from old Breton "ploe" (parish) and from Saint-Hédel or Saint-Heudel, obscure Breton saint.
This is a very old parish that formally included the current village of Pléhédel and the village of Lanleff. References to it can be found dating back to 1245, when a certain Geoffroy, son of Eudon and Glau de Plohedel made a donation in Plouézec. Viscount Pléhédel once owned Beringham House, then Boisgelin (or Boisgeslin) from 1160 to 1294, then again, in consequence of a purchase, from 1771 to 1789. Boisgeslin House was extremely old, built in the 12th century on a mound of earth where the feudal castle of the Lords of Boisgelin was established: this is now Traou Mill. In 1166, Geoffroy de Boisgelin is said to have been the first lord of the place. Then in 1248, Thomas de Boisgeslin, who was part of the fifth crusade became the lord. In 1364 (by the Act of September 27, 1364), Poulard Pierre (Master of Kerberzault), knight and adviser to Duke Jean IV, was given with Constance de Keraoul (or Kerraoul), his wife, the parish of Plessala. They held area on behalf of Charles de Blois and Jeanne de Bretagne, the taxes being worth 6 wheat barrels, with the Abbey de Beauport, plus 14 books of revenue that it had on the manor of Tuonjoces (in the parish of Pléhédel) for the foundation of a mass in perpetuity in the church at the abbey. Pierre Poulard was brother of Guillaume, Bishop of Saint-Malo and perhaps also of Geoffroy Poulard, one of the courageous champions of the combat at Trentes, in 1351.
The old parish of Pléhédel formed part of the county of Goëlo. It was dependent on the jurisdiction of
Saint-Brieuc and had Paimpol as a sous-prefecture.
Taking the coastal road, to the north, you come to the tiny harbour at BRÉHEC-EN-PLOUHA on the shores of a magnificent bay and sheltered by a dyke. There is a small seaside resort in a cove bounded by Point de La Tour on the left and Point de Berjuie on the right. Here the Breton language is spoken in preference to the French language It is a tourist town, but also a favourable retreat for naval pensioners. You will notice that by admiring the coquettish, neatly kept cottages in the back streets of the village, each with a delightful garden. Also, this is where St. Brieuc and the first emigrants from Britain landed in the 5th century.
Here you will find a small creek with weird shaped rocks that were created by the waves eroding them. A road leading to the car park runs along the cliff edge affording views of Saint-Brieuc Bay. Taking the road to Sainte Barbe, make sure you allow time to visit such places as Pointe de Minard, where you will see the ruins of an artillery battery that was built to defend the coast against the English during the Hundred Years War. Pointe de Bilfot, where the concession for growing oysters is reserved for the widows of sailors and retired sailors. Port Lazo (Porz Lac'ho in Breton): The name is thought to mean “Port of Slaughter or Massacre”, according to oral tradition, it refers to the massacre of English troops, the women of the area burned the enemy boats after a failed attack on Port-Lazo, during the 9th century. However, this date seems to me to be whimsical, unless, of course, the English are being confused with the Norman Vikings. The views across Paimpol Bay are astounding and are not to be missed.
On the way to Paimpol you will pass the substantial ruins of the Abbaye de Beauport (mid-June to mid-Sept daily 10am–7pm, with regular 90-minute guided tours; mid-Sept to mid-June daily 10am–noon & 2–5pm; €4; www.abbaye-beauport.com), established in 1202 by Count Alain de Goëlo. The stonewalls are covered with wild flowers and ivy, the central cloisters are engulfed by a huge tree, and birds fly everywhere, such a romantic setting. The Norman Gothic chapter house is the most noteworthy building to survive, but wandering through and over the roofless halls you may spot architectural relics from all periods of its history. Footpaths lead down through the salt meadows, where the monks raised their sheep, to the sea, offering the same superb views of the hilltop abbey that must have been appreciated by generations of arriving pilgrims. In summer, the abbey reopens for late-night visits, with imaginative lighting effects (July to late Sept, Mon, Thurs & Sat 10pm–1am; €4).
Commercial Court and the post office. is an attractive town with a tangle of cobbled
alleyways and fine grey-granite houses, but has lost something in its transition from working fishing port to pleasure harbour. It was once the centre of a cod and whaling fleet, which sailed to
Iceland each February after being sent off with a ceremony marked by a famous pardon. From then until September the town would be empty of its young men. The whole area was commemorated in Pierre
Loti's book, Pêcheur d'Islande; the author, and his heroine, lived in the Place du Martray in the centre of town. Where you will see many buildings that date back to the 16th century. It was formally
the centre for commercial, political and social activities. It was also the location of the Commercial Court and the Post Office.
Thanks to naval shipyards and the like, the open sea is not visible from Paimpol; a maze of waterways leads to its two separate harbours. Both are usually filled with the high masts of yachts, but are still also used by the fishing vessels that keep a fish market and a plethora of fishmongers busy. This is doubtless a very pleasant place to arrive by boat, threading through the rocks, but from close quarters the tiny port area is a little disappointing, very much rebuilt and quite plain. Even so, it's always lively in summer.
Heading north towards Polnte de L'Arcouest you will see the 19th century Tour de Kerroc'h standing in a pretty wooded setting. From the top of the tower there are superb views across Paimpol Bay.
Close to the church is the cemetery where there is a wall on which the names
of men lost at are recorded “Wall of disappeared at sea". This was a community of fishermen who fished the seas around Iceland. Unfortunately, many did not return and plaques denote the names of
ships that perished in the storms around the coast of Iceland.
Before continuing towards Polnte de L'Arcouest take the side road and visit Perras-Hamon to see the small chapel dating from 1770; the west facade of which is adorned with statues from the former Chapelle de la Trinité and under the south porch a list of those lost at sea. Then continue on to Croix des Veuves where sailor’s wives awaited the return of boats from fishing expeditions and Pars-Even a small fishing village facing Paimpol where lived the fisherman who was Loti’s model for Yann in Pecheur d'Islande.
Returning to the main road you are now heading for Polnte de L'Arcouest and the tip of Côte de Goëlo. On the way down to the creek at L’Arcouest there are remarkable views of the bay and of the Île de Bréhat at high tide. A multitude of artists and men of science and letters overrun the place each summer. A monument - two identical pink blocks of granite set side by side - has been erected to the memory of Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie, who were frequent visitors to L’Arcouest. This is where you catch the ferry to Île de Bréhat operated by Les Vedettes de Bréhat that takes about 10 minutes. Whilst you’re buying your ticket take a look at their gift shop. There are some wonderful souvenirs, Breton clothing and many gifts to be had!!
Enez Vriad - Île de Brehat
An island two kilometres off the coast at Pointe de l'Arcouest, 6km north-west of Paimpol, in reality it is actually an archipelago composed of two mains islands, joined by an 18th century bridge built by Vauban, and a multitude of tiny islets, some of which are accessible at low tide. It is famous for its gorgeous pink-orange granite rocks, very mild micro-climate and Mediterranean vegetation, due to the warm Gulf Stream coming from across the Atlantic. Do not miss the sights at sundown when the islets are ablaze…Pleasant and cheerful, the south end of the island is made of tiny gardens planted with palm trees, hydrangeas, fig trees, mimosas and eucalyptus. The north side is more tortured with its heath land and windswept meadows of hemlock and yarrow sloping down to chaotic erosions of rock and wild coves.This is one of the beautiful places of Brittany, renowned as a sanctuary not only for rare species of wild flowers, but also for birds of all kinds. Individual private gardens are meticulously tended, so you can always anticipate a magnificent display of colour, for example in summer from the erupting blue acanthus.
All boats to Bréhat arrive at the small harbour of PORT-CLOS, though depending on the tide passengers may have to walk several hundred metres before setting foot on terra firma. No vehicles are permitted on the island except for a few tractors, so many visitors rent bicycles at the port, at €11 per day. However, it's easy enough to explore the whole place on foot; walking from one end to the other takes less than an hour.
Everybody arriving on the island heads first to Bréhat's village, LE BOURG, five hundred metres from the port, where, surrounded by plane trees are a handful of hotels, restaurants and bars, a small number of shops, a post office, a bank, and an ATM machine, and a small market on most days. In high season, the attractive central square tends to be packed fit to burst, with exasperated holiday-home owners pushing their little hand-wagons through the throngs of day-trippers.
A short distance north of Le Bourg, and you'll soon cross over the slender Pont ar Prat bridge to the northern island, where the crowds thin out, and countless little coves offer opportunities to sprawl on the tough grass or clamber across the rugged boulders. Though the coastal footpath around this northern half offers the most attractive walking on the island, the best beaches line the southern shores, with the Grève du Guerzido at its south-eastern corner, being the pick of the crop.
La Roche-Derrien (Breton - Ar Roc'h-Derrien)
Savet e oa bet ker en Xlvet kantved war ur beg¬douar roc'hellek war valir a-us aber ar Veodi, gant Derrien, mab da gont ar Pentevr. Lakaat a reas sevel ur c'hastell-kreñv difennet gant ramparzhioù evit kontrolliñ an tremenerezh war ar stêr-vor. E-kerzh brezelioù hêrezh Breizh e voe preizhet ar c'hastell ha lakaet seziz warnañ a bep eil, ha diskaret e voe meur a wech. Eno e voe gloazet ha tapet Charlez Bleiz da brizoniad gant ar Saozon da-geñver an emgann brudet a zegouezhas er Roc'h-Derrien e 1347. E 1356 e voe roet kastella¬niezh ar Roc'h-Derrien d'ar Gwesklin a voe lakaet da veskont. Diskaret e oa bet ar c'hastell hag ar ramparzhioù e 1420, da yare an dug Vann V, ha freuzet e voe da vat dre urzh Richelieu er XVllvet kantved.
Gallout a reer lenn istor ar Roc"h-Derrien en disman¬trou eus ar Grennamzer: porzh kozh an Ospital, Plasenn Post an Dalc'h, gardenn ar Saozon. ar c'hardenn Arc'hant. E straed ar Feunteun e kaver roudoù. gant ar prenestroù staligoù, eus ar stalioù kenwerzh a oa eno gwechall. Rannet eo kêr etre div lodenn traoñ kêr a vez graet “traou ar pont” anezhañ, lec'h ma kaver ar bilhaouerien hag a ra ur gwlr “dropad” liesliv. hag an doerien o luc'haj dlbar a reer “tunodo” anezhañ (ar porzh, unan eus ar re goshañ war aod an norzh, a rae berzh gant kenwerzh an holen hag ar gwin, ha diwezhatoc'h gant hini ar mein-glas a veze tennet e mengleuzioù ar c'hornad); ha diouzh an tu all krec'h kêr, gant Plas-Kêr hag he ziez o bannoù koad eus ar XVvet, XVIvet ha XVllvet kantved. Diwar ar voudenn feodel ez eus ur gwel kaer-tre war ar Roc'h-Derrien, aber ar Veodi ha Kastell Du. E-barzh iliz mogeriet Santez Katell, eus an Xilivet kantved, e c'haller gwelet ur werenn livet kaer a zo taolennet warni Charlez Bleiz paket gant ar Saozon. Dre ar savadurioù bras tro-war-dro, graet gant mein ar vro, e weier penaos e reas kêr berzh betek kreiz an XXvet kantved gant he stalioù kenwerzh, hec'h artizaned, ar mein-glas hag al lin. E Bro-Dreger hiziv an deiz c'hoazh eo anavezet he lesanv “Kapital Stoub”, da lavaret eo kêr -benn an deilherien lin.
Merket eo bet ar Roc'h-derrien gant buhez labourus meur a gumuniezh artizaned ha kenwerzhourien. “Da-heul Yann, roue ar bilhaouaerien” ez eer d' ober anaoudegezh gant sekredou kuzh glad ar Roc'h. War ribloù ar Yeodi, pe e vefed war-droad pe e bourzh ur c'hanoe, e teu da soiij d'an dud eus ar big I dre lien a zegase pinvidigezhioù da gêr. E-pad an hañv, e Iiorzh ar presbital hag e garrezioù plant, lec'h ma vez kinniget dlduamantoù war labour allin, e vez degaset da sonj eus ar mare ma oa troet ar c'hornad war an danvez-se. Ha dont a ra an istor da vezañ un digarez da gaout plijadur pa vez foarioù ar c'hozhigelloù, ar gouel bloaziek ha gouel ar Grennamzer.
The town was built in the 11th century by Derrien, son of the Count of Penthievre, on a rocky pro¬montory overlooking the Jaudy estuary. He constructed a fortress protected by ramparts in order to control access to the river estuary. The chateau suffered pillage and a series of sieges related to the Breton wars of succession and it was demolished several times. It was there that Charles de Blois was wounded and taken prisoner by the English at the famous battle of La Roche¬Derrien in 1347. In 1356, Du Guesclin was given, as a privilege, the chateau of La Roche-Derrien and became its Viscount. The chateau was destroyed along with its ramparts in 1420 under Duke Jean V, and was finally razed to the ground by order of Richelieu in the 17th century.
Relics dating from the middle ages relate La Roche-Derllen's historic past: the former leper's gate, the pillory square, the "English Alley", the "Silver Alley" The Rue de la Fontaine still retains traces of the old tradesmens premises with their medieval shopfronts. The town is in two sections: the lower town, known as the "bas-du-pont", was the town of the rag sorters, a really colourful "colony", and also the town of the roofers where their own particular language, known as "tunodo", can still be heard (the port, one of the oldest on the north coast, owed its importance to the salt and wine trades and, later, to transporting roof-slates extracted from local quarries). Then there is the upper town, with the Place du Martray surrounded by half-¬timbered merchants' houses dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The castle mound provides a splendid view over the town, the Jaudy estuary and Castel Du. The 13th-century fortified church of Salnte-Catherine contains a fine stained-glass window that commemorates the capture of Charles de Blois. All around, great buildings in local stone carry the hallmarks of a town that prospered up until the middle of the 20th century, thanks to its shops, its craftsmen, its slate-workers and its flax Industry, Today you will still hear the nickname of the town being bandied about around the Tregor area: It is known as "Kapital Stoup", the capital of the linen scutchers
Several communities of craftsmen and tradel s have left the imprint of their lives of labour on the memory of these places. Follow In the tracks of "Yann, Ie Roi des Chiffonniers' (Yann, the King of the Rag¬sorters), and the hertiage of the Rochois area will yield up Its secrets The banks of the Jaudy, that you can walk along or follow by canoe,stir memories of the sailboats that brought prosperity to tile town. In summer the garden of the presbytery, with its flowerbeds and its displays about linen production, reawakens the area's former connection with flax. History takes on a festive garb when the flea markets, the annual festival and the medieval festival are taking place.