When people talk about the Brittany coast, they talk about the rose granite coast. Romantic, pink, sandy rocks positioned along the edge of the sea as if put there deliberately. The rocks themselves are the perfect shade of rose that make this stretch of coast feel like there is a permanent sun set. And when the sun does hit, the colours change and the view only gets better. There is no place better to see this than on this hike around the peninsular of Ploumanac’h.
A favourite game of the locals is to give the rocks identities or names. Like when you were a child looking up at the sky pointing to each cloud and saying what you see. It’s the same here but with the rock formations. What do you see when you look at the rocks here? Some of them are as tall as 20 metres high and as daunting or imposing as that sounds the local nicknames for these rocks are less so. Napoleon’s Hat, the Lovers’ Hideaway, the Mushroom…
Rose Granite Coast,
Distance : 9.6km
Duration : 2 hours
Ploumanac’h is a village in the commune of Perros-Guirec. These place names don’t sound very French do they? Both names are derived from the Breton language. ‘Plou’ meaning parish and ‘Manac’h’ from St. Manaccus, an Irish monk. Perros, or ‘Pen-Ros’ in Breton, means ‘top of the mound’. And Guirec is a Breton name, still used here to this day. The meaning of Perros-Guirec is probably ‘the top of Guirec’s mound!’
This hike is an out and back with a loop of the peninsular. We are starting on Trestraou beach just outside of Perros-Guirec. There is a small car park there and Perros-Guirec is a classic Breton seaside town worth a visit or equally a great place to base yourself while visiting Brittany. I recommend Hôtel de Perros for those who like to be in town, close to the bars, restaurants and shops. For families or just to be a bit closer to nature and the pink granite then I would recommend Camping Sandaya Le Ranolien. You can start the hike from there too!
However, by beginning your hike just a little further down the coast you will get the full effect of the peninsular reaching out into the channel ahead of you. And the granite starting small and building into large interestingly shaped mineral treasures by the time you hike out onto Ploumanac’h itself.
I must add that if you are doing this hike suring peak summer season you will by no means be by yourself. The beauty of the region attracts many visitors and the proximity to the ‘Sept-isles’ attracts birds and therefore bird watchers too.
The ’Sept-Isles’ or seven isles is Brittany’s largest bird sanctuary and is home to 27 species of birds – including puffins! Although I have yet to make the trip out there, the ferry runs from Perros-Guirec. If you are a bird fanatic or are just looking for a little adventure you can choose from an excursion of 1h45 for 20,50€ or 2h30 for 23,50€ – reserve your tickets on the Armor Navigation website.
Following this hike is easy. The path is clearly marked and for the most part you are just walking around the peninsular. It is not a very challenging hike with good paths and plenty of public toilets along the way. If you want to factor in a coffee or ice cream stop along the route I would recommend pausing at Saint Guirec beach and walking into the village of Ploumanac’h itself.
Now for the rose granite coast highlights. Here is your checklist of things not to miss on this hike:
- The Sentier des Douaniers – another name for the hiking trail you are following. It is a section of the GR34 hiking route and was once used by customs officers to combat smuggling.
- Château de Costaérès – Despite its appearance, the fairy-tale castle of Costaérès that stands atop a rocky islet does not date from the Middle Ages. Built in 1896 by Bruno Abakanowicz. A private estate, the island and its castle are not open to visitors.
- The Oratory of Saint-Guirec – Built on the beach of Saint-Guirec in the 12th century, in memory of this Saint who, supposedly once landed on this beach. Legend has it that single women who place a needle into the nose of the saint’s statue here with be married within the year. That is, only if the needle stays in place after high tide!
- The Ploumanach lighthouse: set on a huge block of rose-pink granite, built from blocks of rose-pink granite, it blends in perfectly with the landscape. Very photogenic and emblematic, it is also found a lot of postcards.
- Maison Du Littoral – Located right on the coastal footpath surrounded by the rose granite rocks, the Maison du littoral team manages the Ploumanac’h site. Inside you can find permanent and temporary exhibitions that focus on conservation, awareness and the history of the region.
Why are the stones pink?
The impressive, pink-coloured granite formed about 300 million years ago. In the course of time, layers of earth on top of the granite were carried off by the power of wind and water, and thereby exposing the remarkable landscape. The characteristic colour of the stone is caused by a mixture of three minerals, mica, feldspath and quartz. Besides the Côte de Granit Rose, there are only two further coastal stretches in the world with the same characteristics: on the island of Corsica and in China.