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 left her.
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
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/.