Perros-Guirec is a surreal fantasy scape of pastels
On the western-most tip of France, about as far as
you can go without crossing the English Channel,
lies a landscape more suited to Middle-Earth than
the very real shores of Brittany. You know you are
close when everything starts to go pink: pink stone
houses, pink stone fences, pink stone curbs and
sidewalks. Pink half-dressed people, leaning out of
their windows to chat with a neighbor on the
sidewalk below. Then comes the smell of the sea,
salty and fresh, exciting and a bit bittersweet if,
like me, you grew up with the ocean and have since
The water that caresses the cliffs of Perros-Guirec is startlingly blue - a smoked teal that sets
off the pink-brown cliffs and boulders magnificently. The evergreens have their say in the
palette, too, as does the misty gray-blue sky. A feeling of ancientness pervades the air here.
The Celtic tribes that inhabited this coast over two thousand years ago saw these same colors
and breathed the same sea air.
Perros-Guirec is the crown jewel of the sentier des
douaniers, or customs officers' path, a 1,800 km
hiking trail along the Breton coast. Built in 1791
to curtail smuggling, the trail is the border
between land and sea around the entire peninsula,
from Mont St. Michel in the north to St. Nazaire
in the south. In the summers, french students on
break hike pieces of it, exploring its beaches, cliffs,
and charming villages by the score.
On a drizzly morning in November, however, I had the path to myself. I felt nearly giddy in
the solitude of this dream-scape, and I found myself running around corners to see what was next
and stopping, dumbstruck, at each new view. Forested sections that concealed large, overgrown yards
and a glimpse of pink-granite house gave way to round boulders shaped by giants that cut the sea
into kaleidoscope pieces. An archaic-looking one room church sat insoluble upon a hill,
no path through the heather to penetrate its mystery.
The most popular sight along the Pink Granite
Coast is the Ploumanac'h lighthouse, which
crowns a sharp promontory past the church-like
building. The lighthouse, which is still active, is
not open to the public, but the views from the
surrounding cliffs are just as stunning. My father
says a person never gets bored staring at either
fire or the sea. Here, at Ploumanac'h,
I felt he was right.
For more information on this magical town, visit http://www.perros-guirec.com/.