If you want to hike a section of Brittany’s emerald coast that is truly rugged and beautiful, look no further than this hike. Starting and ending in the oyster capital of Cancale. Feast on everything this area has to offer. From stunning views to delicious seafood.
Cancale to the Pointe du Grouin
Distance : 14.6 km
Duration: 4 h 30
Cancale is the Oyster capital of France. Louis XIV ordered his oysters from Cancale. If you are a big lover of seafood then you cannot pass an opportunity to visit this unassuming fishing town.
Steeped in history and a long tradition of fishing, the people of Cancale are proud of their reputation and it isn’t hard to figure out why. Either start or end your hike at the oyster market. Look for the lighthouse at the end of town. The one waving the green flag of Cancale, adorned with a ship surrounded by oysters.
This hike is a long one if you choose to do an out and back to the end of the peninsular, known as Pointe du Grouin or the point of the pigs snout. I don’t know how accurate that name is really. If you are looking for a good full day’s hiking, then by all means go for it. However, this hike can be enjoyed in sections. Either start at the dramatic pointe du grouin or the oyster market of Cancale and choose one of the three beaches to turn around – Port Mer, Port Picain or Port de Briac. If you happen to be hiking on a weekend the numbers 15 and 8 buses run from the pointe back to Cancale.
As well as being a very long hike, it is also quite challenging. You are following a well signposted section of the GR34 – look out for the red and white signs. Although this path climbs and descends constantly and is made up of several rocky sections where scrambling may be necessary. Look at the elevation profile below to see what following the unrelenting rugged coastal path looks like.
You will be rewarded for your efforts by the beautiful views, the scent of pine and the three ports that break up the journey. Only Port Mer has somewhere to buy coffee but all three have bathroom facilities. Each is different and depending on the tides and the weather you can stop at any of them for a quick dip in the sea.
Looking out to sea from this hike you are, in fact, looking across the bay of Mont Saint Michel. The famous UNESCO world heritage site. Which is actually located in Normandy – it is just across the border! If you are lucky and it is a clear day you will be able to make out the mound in the distance. Look for the shape of the abbey’s spire on the top. The difference between the Mont Saint Michel and one of the other islands in the bay is its very distinct pointed shape.
Legend has it that the mythological creature Gargantua was walking in the bay of the Mont Saint Michel one day when something got into her boot. It was bothering her as she walked. So, she took off her boot and shook it. Three stones fell out and flew across the bay. These stones became the Mont-Saint-Michel, the island of Tombelaine and Mont-Dol. If you have time while in the region, Mont Dol also makes for an interesting visit and is considered one of the most important Palaeolithic sites in Brittany.
Closer to the hiking trail are a few other islands. The most impressive of these is the island of rimains which has an 18th century fort on its south side. Now a privately owned island with a swimming pool and a helipad. Other islands here are home to many sea birds. Especially the île des lands, directly opposite the pointe du grouin. Surrounded by sea and protected, this island in completely inaccessible and therefore a paradise for wildlife. Bring your binoculars to get a better look.
As it is the home of Oysters. Here are my food related recommendations on this hike:
- Marché aux Huîtres de Cancale – The Oyster market is the best place to get fresh out of the bay oysters at a fraction of the cost you would in a restaurant. Choose between the flat oysters and the round. Enjoy them with a squeeze of lemon and then throw the shells onto the beach and make a wish.
- Le Vigneron du Muscadet – One cannot sample the oysters of Cancale without a drop of Muscadet! This wine seller will advise you and direct you towards one of their excellent dry white wines.
- Lunch in Cancale, L’Arrière Cour– Restaurant with warm vintage decor and excellent food. Here they serve classic seafood dishes as well as vegetarian sharing platters. Experience a warm welcome and a full stomach.
- Lunch at Pointe du Grouin, Brasserie de la Pointe du Grouin – On a calm sunny day, you will not beat the view from this restaurant. A truly special experience and an excellent reward for a day’s hiking. Here, the menu is simple – seafood, salads or crêpes.