Finistère: the Coast of Legends


The Coast of Legends

Discover my latest photos taken during a three-day photo trip on the "Côte des Légendes" in Finistère (France), by a month of June with very capricious weather.

Day 1 : To the West of Brest

First stop on my journey, the majestic Petit Minou lighthouse. This lighthouse, 26 meters high, stands on a gigantic rock advanced in the sea. Its primary role was to secure the entrance to Brest harbour. The lighthouse was built of cut stone from the Aber-Ildut quarry and put into service in January 1848. At the foot of the lighthouse is the "Petit Viet beach" nestled in a beautiful cove with turquoise waters.

See the lighthouses gallery

Further west, following the coast along the coastal path to reach Bertheaume fort, I discover a bird's-eye view of the turquoise waters of the beach of the same name. The fort built in the 17th century, around 1690, by Vauban, at the request of Louis XIV, is perched on a rocky islet. Its geographical position allowed it to have an eye on the entrance to the Goulet de Brest, arm of the sea which connects the harbor of Brest to the Atlantic Ocean. It has been used militarily until 1944. Today the fort has been converted into a "climbing" area with zip lines and climbing course. Hence less interest on a photographic level......

Still further west, I reach the tip of Saint Mathieu. Cliffs tormented by the winds and the sea, an imposing lighthouse which watches over the ruins of an abbey of which the Romanesque facade, the stone vaults of the choir and the arcades of the nave remain, a chapel "Notre Dame de Grace" which houses a small museum containing remains of the ancient abbey... The place is steeped in history and emblematic of Brittany, and therefore a very visited tourist site.

"Legend has it that, bringing back the body of the apostle Matthew, merchants were miraculously saved from the sinking off this point. The vessel, on the verge of crashing against a rock, was spared by the said, and benevolent, rock which would have opened to let the ship pass..."

I now head north-west towards Le Tonquet, a small fishing port where the Kermorvan lighthouse is located. Located at the end of the peninsula of the same name, the Kermorvan lighthouse offers a breathtaking view of the Iroise sea. The lighthouse, commissioned in 1849, is 20 meters high and indicates the Helle and Four channels.

Its tower, square in shape, was quite original at the time. It is the second structure of this type built in Finistère, after that of Île Noire.

11:00 p.m.: the day ends with beautiful lights...

Day 2: North-West coast from Conquet to Brignogan.

8:00 a.m.: I start this second day as I finished it with the Kermorvan lighthouse, but by day this time. It takes around 15-20 minutes to walk from the car park to reach the tip of the peninsula and access the lighthouse which can be observed under different points of view.
Further up the coast, is the beautiful Ruscumunoc beach: white sand, multitude of rocks polished by the tides like large pebbles, turquoise waters... A real invitation to swim!

Still going up the coast, I see a lighthouse inland. Built in 1894, it is the Trezien lighthouse which stands 37 meters high, 500 m from the shore of the town of Plouarzel. He watches over the southern entrance to the Four channel.

After having climbed the 182 steps of the staircase a wonderful panorama opens up to my eyes: from the Saint-Mathieu lighthouse to the Four lighthouse, from the islands of the Iroise sea to the tip of Corsen.

Going up towards the Saint-Laurent peninsula, I discover at low tide the magnificent Des Dames beach and its turquoise waters. And on the opposite side, a few ships anchored sheltered in the small bay of Colons beach.

Further up on the coast, and facing the sea, the small chapel of Saint-Samson, built in the second half of the 18th century, and its granite cross dating from the early Middle Ages. A particularly soothing place...

Below the chapel, flows a fountain whose miraculous virtue was, of yesteryear, to immerse children in it to give them vigor.

Exposed in the Portsall pier car park is the gigantic anchor of the Amocco Cadiz, the infamous ship which ran aground on March 16, 1978 and caused the largest oil spill of the century. The anchor weighs almost 20 tons...

I pass the mouth of L'Aber Wrac'h and head to the tip of Kastell Ac'h from where I can see the Île Vierge lighthouse. Between the English Channel and the Iroise sea, this giant of the seas, 82.5 m and 397 steps, watches over the open sea. Lit in 1902, this tallest lighthouse in Europe illuminates the horizon with a white shine every 5 seconds for nearly 42 km.

My last stop of the day ends on the rocks of Brignogan where stands a lighthouse of more than 150 years old: the Pontusval lighthouse. Illuminated for the first time in 1869, its construction was intended to serve as a relay between the lighthouse of the Virgin Island and that of the Island of Batz, on this rocky coast where shipwrecks were unfortunately numerous.

10:45 p.m.: the sun has passed the horizon... my day ends!

Day 3: North-West coast to Morlaix.

I start this third and final day with very gloomy weather: low and overcast sky, scattered drizzles, low light... Not the best conditions for photography! On my way this morning guardhouses. The first, that of Lavillo.

The Lavillo guardhouse was built between 1730 and 1740. Hidden behind rocks in order to not be visible from the sea and possible enemies, Lavillo's guard had a mission to monitor the sea and passing boats. These lookout posts were part of a coastal defence system designed by Vauban in the 17th century.

On the east side of the Amiets beach, is a second guardhouse: that of Amiets. The Amiets guardhouse was built in 1744 to serve as a relay in the transmission of signals between the guardhouses of Lavillo and Théven Bras (now disappeared). It housed three or four spotters.

My path then takes me to the bay of Morlaix but the weather, unfortunately, becomes cloudy and heavy rain appears... My weather radar makes me understand that the game is over for today and that it is time to go home..

But how beautiful the northern Finistère coast is in the sun!