Breizh Poellrezh SF - Douarañ Santel
Breizh Poellrezh SF - Douarañ Santel

Kiberen (Quiberon, La Presqu’île)

In earlier times this was an island, but is now connected by the narrow Isthmus of Penthièvre that provides the road and rail links to the mainland. This isthmus is so fragile that that at some points the road is bordered on both sides by the pounding sea, with sheltered shallows to the east and such heavy winds that Thorn-bushes grow at precarious angles. The peninsula acts as a breakwater for the Bay of Biscay and provides shelter for shipping in bad weather.

As you drive onto the peninsula you should take time to visit Fort de Penthièvre, built in 1748 to guard against an English attack whose objective was the destruction of Lorient. The Duke of Penthièvre, Admiral of France and Governor of Brittany, ordered that the trains (old name of the headland and location of the current fort) be strengthened.

Under the Consulate, the First Empire and the Restoration and mainly under the Monarchy of Juillet, it took its current shape from the fortification in Vauban: an external ditch providing defence, with its batteries of guns, interior ditches just inside barracks, and a covered way enters the parapet which crowns the escarpment of the coast. The essential part is the defensive barracks, which could shelter 400 men under the vaults. The current fortification, as you see it today, was finally completed between 1841 and 1845.On June 23rd, 1933, the fort is closed down and classified historic building.

During the Second World War, it formed part, with three reinforced concrete blockhouses for anti-tank guns and heavy machine guns, of the Atlantic Wall. From April at July 1944, it is used as a jail, summary court, and place of execution and mass grave: 59 members of the Resistance were shot. A monument raised on the glacis of the fort points out their sacrifice, which is commemorated each year on July 13th.

Since 1969, the fort has been the responsibility of the 3rd Regiment of Marines stationed in Vannes. It is now used as a centre for instruction and initiation of commandos (track of audacity, climbing, water sport).

If you are interested in standing stones, you should take a detour through St-Pierre-Quiberon and take the Rue des Menhirs to see the St-Pierre Lines, a line of 22 stones.

Situated near the tip of the Peninsula, which juts out 14 kilometres from Carnac, is the main town of Quiberon, formerly a little fishers village. The fishing port, known as Port Maria, is still in operation as is the ferry terminal where you can take the ferry to La Palais on Belle Île (the largest of the Breton islands), Île d’Houat and Île de Hœdic from the quays on Rue de L’embarcadère.

Today, the town is a popular and lively holiday resort with south facing sandy beaches; it also boasts quite a few thalasso-theurapetical institutes including the world famous Thalassotherapy Institute--one of the first in France-at the Pointe Du Conguel from where there are spectacular views of Belle Île and the two smaller islands of Houat and Hœdic. To the east of the town is the Aéroclub de Quiberon that is open from 1000 – 2000 hours.

Following the road from Port Maria round to the west side of the peninsula, you come to an area known as Côte Sauvage. Here the coastline is wild, with a succession of jagged cliffs interspersed with numerous caves and crevasses. Tiny islets alternate with tiny sandy beaches where huge rolling waves crash against the rocks. Bathing is prohibited in this area because of ground swell. Along this coastline there are rocks of all shapes and sizes that create passages and labyrinths through which the sea boils and roars. You will see granite markers for the main sites of interest, such as Port-Pilote, Trou de Souffleur, Point de Scouro and Grotte de Kerniscob; all these should be visited on foot.

Eventually you come to Beg er Goalennec, here you will find Café Le Vivier, walk over the rocks to the headland where you will have amazing views of the coastline.

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