Day Tripping: Côte de Granite Rose and Ploumanac’h Lighthouse

Pink Granite

Did I mention that we’re on school vacation again here?  I know it doesn’t feel like that long ago that we were on winter break–6 weeks ago to be precise–and here we are again!   Luckily I have friends who are teachers and we’ve been able to go out and explore a little this week together.  What child (or adult) doesn’t like playing in the sand or climbing on rocks?  The Côte de Granite Rose, or the Pink Granite Coast, loosely defined, runs from Bréhat to Trégastel.  The sandy beaches and beautiful pink granite rock formations make for a beautiful landscape and great hiking/walking possibilities.  For me, the most spectacular rock formations are around Ploumanac’h.

Natural Sculptures

From Saint Malo it takes slightly over 2 hours to drive to Perros-Guirec.  When you arrive park your car and take the Sentier des Douniers to Ploumanc’h.  According to the tourist office it’s about an hour-long walk; you can easily add another 30-45 minutes if walking with toddlers.  While not stroller friendly, the walk is doable for the entire family if you take your time.  If you’re looking for a shorter walk, you can drive directly to Ploumanac’h and walk to the lighthouse in minutes.  That said, I recommend the longer walk–the appeal of this area is the coast!  If you’re looking for museums, shopping, etc., Ploumanac’h, like nearby Bréhat, is not for you.

Skipping Stones

As you walk towards the lighthouse from Perros-Guirec, you can see the Sept-Îles, the Seven Islands in English, across from you.  The Sept-Îles (Rouzic, Malban, l’île Plate, Bono, Les Costans, l’île aux Moines and le Cerf) are the most important seabird sanctuary in France.  If you’re a bird love don’t miss the chance to “visit” the islands and observe them in action.  Protection measures aimed at saving puffins started here in 1912 and grew into a National Reserve in 1976.  Today, not only puffins but over thirteen different bird species and even seals call the archipelago home for all or part of the year.  Boat trips leave from Perros-Guirec or Port-Blanc.  Visitors are only allowed on the île aux Moines, the other islands and their occupants can only be observed by boat.  The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux,  the French Society for the Protection of Birds,  is in charge of the islands.  In addition to guided boat tours of the islands, it runs a Visitor’s Center/Museum not far away in Île Grande.  (By car, drive to Pleumeur-Bodou and then follow the signs for “Station ornithologique.”)  Over 100,000 people visit the islands every year of which about half go on to the Visitor’s Center.  Renovated just last year, well-done exhibits deal with the island’s flora and fauna and add an extra layer of detail to your visit to the site.  The Center is open from April – September.  During Spring Break (right now), the Center is open daily from 14-18:00.

Mean-Ruz Lighthouse, Ploumanac'h

We didn’t visit the birds this time, Laura and Elise are still a bit too young to appreciate bird watching from a boat (spotting robins from our kitchen window is more their idea of birdwatching).  Instead we kept walking to the lighthouse for a picnic lunch and a chance to play on the rocks.  The first lighthouse was built here in 1860 and like so many other Breton lighthouses was destroyed at the end of WWII.  Rebuilt almost immediately after the war, Mean-Ruz, red-stone in Breton, stands 15 meters high.  The lighthouse is still in use today and its automated light continues to guide sailors….and attract tourists and amateur photographers!  I was amazed at how many people were out visiting with us!  You can walk right up to the lighthouse, even stand in the doorway for pictures, but you cannot visit the actual tower.  If the weather is good, picnic here and enjoy the views.  Children and adults alike will have fun climbing the rocks and playing amongst them.  Watching people come and go while we ate, I’m not sure which age group was having more fun playing on the rocks!  We’re done playing for a bit now.  We brought back an unwanted souvenir from our day out–the flu!  Now that’s fun!!!

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