What do a Torpedo, the Big Bare Foot, and a Pancake have in common? You can find them on a beautiful sandy beach amongst glistening rose-tinted rock formations on the indented shoreline of Brittany in France. Halfway along the northern coast, in the most spectacular section known as the Côte de Granit Rose or Pink Granite Coast lies the village of Ploumanac’h.
Once a simple fishermen’s village, the place grew into a delightful resort, attracting one million visitors every year to admire its surreal masses of rocks, cliffs, and misshapen boulders. This exceptional natural site shaped by the sea and wind is truly for lovers of mysterious landscapes. In 2015, it even won France’s favorite village prize.
If you want to see Ploumanac’h at its best, arrive when the tide is high. You will face an exquisite little crescent beach, overlooked by a couple of hotels and restaurants, and facing west across an estuary that is scattered with tiny islets. As the sea withdraws, the sand stretches farther and farther out. Solitary outcrops emerge to stand as sturdy monoliths and the islets become islands. The centrepiece of this tableau is the small chateau that stands proudly on the Costaérès islet. Used by the fishermen to dry out the fish in the sun, the place kept the name Coz-seherez or Costaérès meaning “old drying place”. The first owner, Bruno Abakanowicz, a Polish engineer and mathematician, used the wood from a shipwreck of a three-masted boat to fit out the interior of his newly built mansion in 1896. He also built the Bellevue Hotel in the village. The property is now owned by a German comedian. Sadly, the small castle is not open to visitors.
Originally a place of prayer, Plou in Breton meaning parish, and Manac’h signifying monk, Ploumanac’h still holds a medieval chapel and an ancient shrine on top of a huge rock. The Oratoire of Saint-Guirec is well know by the local single young women. Inside the shrine stands a wooden statue of the Saint. The legend says that if you can pin a needle into the nose of the statue and if the needle remains, you will be married within the year. To this day, people still try but the wooden statue has been replaced by one in pink granite.
Open since 1907, the Sentier des Douaniers, the former customs officers’ path, starts at the end of the small beach and undulates along the coastline for five kilometers. It is a popular walk that allows the visitor to explore further the beauty of this region. The views are just breathtaking, especially as the sun goes down, when the intriguing rocks take on ruddy and orange shades. The Mean Ruz lighthouse in pink granit guards the port entry from its 15 meters peak.
Like many Breton coastal communities, Ploumanac’h consists of two distinct sections. The beach area is Ploumanac’h-Plage, while the village centre a short way south is officially Ploumanac’h-Bourg. Between the two sections lies a charming wild public park scattered with bizarre red-rock formations, including the unmistakable Napoleon’s Hat. In summer, boat trips set off from the little fishing harbor that adjoins the bourg. Their destination is the Sept-Îles seabird sanctuary not far offshore, where seven craggy islands shelter species including puffins, cormorants, gannets, guillemots, and even grey seals.
Pack You Bags
Ploumanac’h is located in the Brittany region on the West coast of France. Temperatures can be chilly all year round. There is a lot of rain, even during the drier months. Don’t forget your walking shoes to enjoy the scenery at its best!
Brittany Ferries sail year round from Portsmouth to Saint-Malo and from Plymouth to Roscoff or Saint-Malo. Round trip tickets for a car with two passengers range from about 200 Euros (EUR) to 440 EUR. Ploumanac’h is roughly 76 kilometers east of Roscoff, and 167 kilometers west of Saint-Malo. To reach it by car, take N176 in Saint-Malo, then N12 in Lannion following D767 direction then get onto D767 to Perros-Guirec.
Where to Eat and Stay
The number of places to eat is limited in Ploumanac’h but quality is there. Whether you just want a drink, a snack or something more substantial, you will find a place to feed your stomach and your eyes!
Le Phare Hôtel Restaurant is a nice pick to taste the authentic and fresh local food such as seafood platter, fresh mussels, far breton, or crêpes served with locally brewed apple cider. The place is also a two star hotel located just 150 meters from the harbour.
For a more exclusive stay, Castel Beau Site is a four star hotel at the foot of the tiny beach, its large terrace dominating the rocks. Its restaurant La Table de mon père offers a spectacular panorama and gastronomic dishes inspired by the local products.
The Brittany Tourist Board is a useful site to prepare your trip to this peaceful little paradise and to experience the real Brittany.