When you arrive at Cap Fréhel you will instantly know why it is one of the Côtes d’Armor’s most iconic peninsulas. It is a spectacular drive before you have even set foot on the ground. The peninsular climbs steadily and reaches it’s peak at the famous lighthouse. Which is where I recommend you park your car.
Distance: 12.9 km
Duration: 3 h 30
The pink sandstone cliffs that fall beside you throughout this hike are 70 meters high. Prepare for it to get windy up there, even on the brightest of summer days. These cliffs are also home to hundreds of nesting birds. Similarly, to Ploumanac’h this site attracts birds watchers.
From February to mid-July these birds nestle into the cliffs to hatch their young. Bring your binoculars as you pass ‘La fauconnière’ a tall chimney stack of rock, smeared with droppings and teeming with birds. It is just after you pass the lighthouse and join the footpath. If you really want to observe the birds going about their business April is a good time to visit. The young will just be venturing out of their nests!
Not only is this site a bird sanctuary but it is also has some very interesting geography. Despite being surrounded by rocky outcrops and sandstone cliffs, the entire peninsular is covered in marshes and heather moorland. This is a protected geological site. Recognised nationally and internationally as an important coastal environment.
On this hike look down as well as up. Especially after being blown away by the coastal beauty of the first half of the hike. Don’t forget to appreciate the changing landscape as you cut back across the peninsular. Visit in the springtime to see bright yellow gorse and pink sea thrift or in the summer to walk through a sea of purple heather.
While this circular loop offers you the best that this area has to offer, if you are looking for a hike that includes a stop at a beautiful sandy beach for a dip then you might want to follow the coastal path southwest after exploring the lighthouse. There are several small sandy beaches on the way that are exposed at low tide. However, if you don’t want to worry about the tides ruining your fun there are 3 beautiful beaches, in 3 consecutive bays. Plage de La Fosse, Les Grèves d’en Bas and Anse du Croc.
As this is quite a long hike, why not factor in a coffee stop or some lunch? At 6.6 kilometres you will find Le Petit Galet a creperie that will serve you a famous Breton galette and a bowl of cider. Or, if you want to continue further there is La Ribote at kilometre 9.3. A French restaurant serving local classics like Potée Bretonne (a fisherman’s stew) or moules mariniere and frites (mussels and fries).
The historical sites of interest on this hike/
- The First lighthouse – Built in the 18th century the first lighthouse can still be seen next to its modern successor.
- The Second Lighthouse – Another, bigger and better lighthouse was designed and built in the 19th century and then destroyed in the second world war. It was used as an observation post before the Germans decided to dynamite it.
- The (current) Cap Fréhel Lighthouse – After the war construction on the current lighthouse began in 1946. As one of the 5 most powerful lighthouses in France, this lighthouse is nothing if not impressive. Its lantern is located more than 100 metres above sea level and the light from its beacon carries for 53 kilometres! The site is open to visitors from April to early November. Do not hesitate to climb the 145 steps to enjoy a panorama. Just remember you’ve only just started your hike!
- Fort la Latte – Otherwise known as La Roche Goyon. As it was built in the 14th century by Étienne Goyon , Lord of Matignon. The Goyon family is one of the oldest in all of Brittany. Constructed during the War of Breton Succession (1341 –1365), it is in a perfect strategic location. A naturally impregnable fortress, with views across the English Channel and the Emerald Coast. A historic monument since 1925, the Joüon des Longrais family have been continually restoring and maintaining the fort. So much so, that it retains its walls, drawbridge, dungeon and medieval garden.