- Niko Benas
January 28, 2023 - On the road in Brittany
Brittany is characterized by a harsh climate, bizarre rock formations, lush greenery and numerous lighthouses that save lives every night. But between the rugged steep slopes, you will also find Caribbean-like beaches with white sand.
Brittany is also known for rapid weather changes and high humidity, which allow the sunlight to conjure up beautiful plays of color across the landscape. The climate in Brittany is largely influenced by the Gulf Stream. It brings mild temperatures, so that snow in winter is a rare exception.
Beguiled by numerous reports and impressive shots, I got in the car and made my way to France's rough west for a few days. I couldn't wait to see and photograph some of Brittany's most famous photo spots for myself.
Phare du Petit Minou at sunrise
Day 1 - Lighthouses have always fascinated me, not only because my father was a sailor and I was able to travel with him countless times. A lighthouse is the rock in the surf, provides clarity and trust. There are so many iconic lighthouses in Brittany that I couldn't resist starting a photo collection. Consequently, the choice of the first photo spot fell on the beautiful lighthouse "Phare du Petit Minou". Historically elegant, it stands out against the rugged and dramatic landscape of the coast and is accessed via an impressive stone bridge.
Phare de Saint-Mathieu at sunrise
Day 2 - Steep cliffs swept by wind and waves, an imposing lighthouse watching over the ruins of an old abbey: the Saint-Mathieu headland seems like the essence of Brittany.
The lighthouse of the "Pointe St-Mathieu", which required the demolition of part of the ruins of the monastery, seems rather out of place in such a heritage area. Built in the 19th century to replace the abbey's old fire tower, which had the same purpose and was probably built in the 11th century. When the lighthouse was built, environmental protection was not an issue. The main focus was on safety when sailing in a particularly dangerous sea.
Phare de Kermorvan at sunset
Day 3 - Kermorvan Lighthouse was built in 1849 from granite stones on a rock at the tip of the Kermorvan Peninsula. Located northwest of the village and port of Le Conquet in Finistère, it is considered the westernmost lighthouse in France. It secures navigation between Ouessant and Le Conquet, from which it dominates the port from the other side of the estuary. Its range is 40 km and has been remotely controlled from Brest since 1994. Access to the tower is ensured by a granite bridge.
Phare de Pontusval
Day 4 - The 18m high lighthouse "Phare de Pontusval" was built in 1869 after numerous ships crashed on the coast. Lovingly built on a small tongue of land, it shines night after night into the Atlantic. Next to the small tower is a house with a porch, where the old lighthouse keeper probably still lives, although the tower has been automated since 2003.
L'arche de Porz Guen by sunset
Day 5 - At the Bay of Porz Guen (Port Blanc) in the north-west of the Quiberon peninsula, you can walk through the Arch de Porz Guen at low tide. This is an approx. 10-15 m high, naturally formed rock gate with a triumphal arch character. There are natural caves and crevasses in the rock massif that lines the beautiful beach with its wild surf. Nature has left artistic patterns on some rocks.
Phare de Mean Ruz by sunset
Day 6 - In Ploumanac'h, in the "Congregation of the Monks", you will find very rare granite that shines in bright pink-orange. The minerals hematite and alkali feldspar cause the coloring in the 300-million-year-old rock, which is otherwise only found in Corsica and China. Above it is the lighthouse, which is actually called "Phare de Mean Ruz" - lighthouse made of red rock. It is made of the same granite as its surroundings and blends perfectly into the landscape with the small bridge. It was built in 1945 after its predecessor was destroyed in World War II.
Site of Meneham
Day 7 - In the heart of the 'Pays Pagan', the village of Kerlouan enchants with its grassy dunes and unique atmosphere. Hidden behind huge, bizarrely shaped boulders, the picturesque fishing village with the thatched houses has retained its old-time charm. It used to be inhabited by tax collectors, farmers and fishermen. All houses have been restored and can be visited. Also impressive on top of the dunes between two large boulders is a house built entirely of granite. Even the roof is bricked with granite stones. From here there is a charming view of the blue coast with its rocks.
On my first visit to Brittany, I was able to marvel at the endless number of lighthouses, visit small, picturesque coastal towns, feel the rough nature and enjoy the Breton hospitality. My first impression is gigantic. A mix of Scottish terrain and Icelandic weather. I will definitely come back.