The walk, coast path south Finistère (GR34)
Our itinerary is a suggestion for 7 nights, walking 67 miles along one of the most diverse sections of the Brittany coast. Each day bringing a change of scenery and character.
The south coast, including this section, enjoys the best climate in Brittany with over 2000 hours of sunshine a year.
Your itinerary can take longer than 7 days including rest days to enjoy the beach or see friends and you can do the walk in either direction. You can do a section of the walk (minimum of 3 nights) and you can walk further in a day, the itinerary can be done in 6 nights.
The walk begins at the Finistère/Morbihan border at the modest resort of Le Pouldu. It follows several rias inland, where you can feel alone in a mysterious wilderness only minutes after leaving a bustling town of artists. There is the chance to indulge your palate at La Rivière de Belon, pictured in the header, familiar to gastronomes throughout France for its oysters, but nevertheless peaceful and unspoilt. The walk passes through beautiful, little fishing harbours, with fresh fruits de mer often available and takes in some of Brittany's best beaches. There are wetland nature reserves and protected forest reaching down to the shoreline. There are plenty of opportunities to swim.
Much of this section of the coast is undisturbed by international tourism, Pont Aven and Le Pouldu being the exceptions. The coast path is very quiet and even at its busiest, on holidays, is a peaceful place to be.
Day 1 Arrival. Walk 8,5km (5.3 miles) Camping at Le Pouldu.
Day 2 Morning walk to Doelan 6kms (3.75 miles). Afternoon walk to Port Merrien 8,5kms (5.3 miles) Staying at B&B.
Day 3 Walk to Kerfany 12kms (7.5 miles). Picnic en route. Camping at Kerfany.
Day 4 Walk to Port de Belon 20kms (12.5 miles). Picnic or bistro en route. Camping at Port de Belon.
Day 5 Walk to Port Manec'h 21kms (13 miles). Lunch in Pont Aven. Camping at Port Manec'h.
Day 6 Walk to Pointe de la Jument 17kms (10.6 miles) Picnic en route.
Day 7 Walk to Concarneau 14.5kms (9 miles). Picnic en route.
Total distance 107.5 kms (67 miles) Daily average 9.6 miles
About 28 hours of walking.
6 nights using an alternative combination of campsites:
Day 1 / 5.3 miles, Day 2 / 15 miles, Day 3 / 14.5 miles
Day 4 / 13 miles, Day 5 / 10.5 miles, Day 6 / 9 miles
Le Pouldu ( Day 1 )
Le Pouldu has excellent beaches and swimming, drawing in many locals and a good few international tourists. It has several options for eating out, 2 boulangeries and an excellent tabac if coffee and croissants is your thing in the mornings. The tabac is the "new" Cafe de la Plage, the old one, next door,formerly la Buvette de la Plage, is now a museum to Gauguin with his murals still there to be admired. Gauguin stayed there and did many paintings of the area.
If you arrive in Brittany in the morning our suggestion would be to lunch at the Creperie de Saint-Maurice next to L'abbaye Saint-Maurice on the Ria de la Laïta, or to picnic on the banks of the river. We would collect your bags from there allowing you to walk unencumbered after lunch down the ria to Le Pouldu. This walk is splendid with high, wooded cliffs making for glorious scenery. It is 8.5km (about 5.3 miles) to the campsite in Le Pouldu and takes just over 2 hours at a gentle pace. If you arrive even earlier you could walk from Quimperlé and still lunch at the abbey.
The first real day's walking takes in sandy beaches, ranging from big open surf to intimate little coves, a picturesque fishing port for lunch and finishes at a ria where the sandy bottom gives the water an outstanding clarity. At Merrien you can buy oysters and other fruits de mer.
No convenient campsite (we don't like to stray off the path more than a few hundred metres) sees you in comfortable B&B. All your gear will be in the caravan to hand, just outside. You will be able to get an evening meal there, or near-by Moëlan sur Mer has several eateries. It's a 4km away so a taxi (or the bikes) may be required.
The morning walk is a little over 3.75 miles which allows for a late and easy start following a day's travelling.
Doëlan has several good fish restaurants and makes an excellent place to have lunch, with an excellent establishment, Le Rive Gauche, offering inside and outside tables overlooking the port.
If you prefer to picnic we can make the arrangements.
Fresh fish are usually for sale on the righthand quay as well as an outdoor pop-up style restaurant open in the season.
The afternoon walk, slightly more strenuous at just over 5 miles brings you to Port Merrien, one of our favourite spots. Oysters and various fruits de mer are available to buy at the quay. The map for day 2 continues on into day 3, so indicates a greater distance than the day's walk. We will redo the route stopping at the B&B to avoid confusion.
Day 3 and a 7.5 mile walk to Kerfany. A magical walk, starting at the edge of a protected forest where it meets the sea. There are many walks through the woods if you wish to dally. It's certainly worth the 50 metre detour from the coast path to visit the solid, granite roofed customs lookout building. The path takes you on to the charming port of Brigneau where there are a couple of bars/ restaurants. Perhaps an ideal lunch break? The littoral on this section of the walk provides excellent bird-watching opportunities.
And should you feel like a dip at the finish, there is a splendid sandy beach at Kerfany (see photo).
You will be walking further than indicated on the map; route to be re-walked and amended.
A 12.5 mile walk to Port de Bélon. Red squirrels can be seen
in the pines leaving Kerfany. The walk is wooded and beautiful.
There is the option of lunch at a bistro at the bit of
Port de Bélon which you get to first (on the Kerfany side) or it's a picnic in some quiet spot of your choosing.
At Port de Bélon, famous for its oyster-beds, there are two restaurants (specializing in fish) or you can self-cater. Oysters are available to purchase and picnic tables are provided where you can enjoy them with your own bottle of wine whilst enjoying the view. A knife for opening oysters is part of the caravan's equipment.
A rewarding and beautiful walk with lunch where you
will in Pont Aven, a magnet for tourists having been the home of Gauguin for a while.
There are shops selling local buttery biscuits, shops dedicated to selling locally produced tins of fish, clothing shops and chocolatières. There are also many galleries to wander through celebrating Pont Aven's continuing status as an artists' colony. There are plenty of restaurants, creperies and a boulangerie which sells sandwiches. Pont Aven makes a strong contrast to the quiet of the coast path, but is compact enough not to be overwhelming and is extremely picturesque. It's perhaps your best opportunity to buy something for the neighbour feeding the cat and indeed for the cat.
The morning and afternoon walks are both 6.5 miles and the morning walk can be punctuated with coffee at the Port of Rosbras, about half way.
Day 6 covers 10.6 miles which you can break where you will with a picnic lunch. Once again a diverse and interesting walk. Port Manec'h gives a last reminder of its charm as, climbing out from the granite harbour, you pass its well proportioned lighthouse.
A superb stretch of granite outcrops lead you to Nevez's other beaches with names (Plage de Tahiti) that they really live up to.
Beyond Nevez the shore line flattens out and the large ponds and low dunes have been given protected status as a nature reserve.
Sarah watched an osprey for over half an hour quartering one of the ponds on 1st November this year (2017).
The long beach, which is slowly dragging the remaining concrete of the second world war into the sea, is excellent for swimming, but is steep, so gets deep very quickly. You can almost dive in from the beach in places.
You will be camping very close to the beach and the last of the ponds. When we last stayed here the only intrusion was the sound of frogs.
This 9 mile section is typical of the Breton coast in that the distance looks very small on a large map, but the twists and turns of the inlets makes it an interesting and a good walk. Clear water and outstanding colours are framed with trees and granite.
The campsite is very close to a beach and it's probably a taxi ride to the centre of Concarneau, or at least a taxi ride back, if you wish to explore the town.
The railway station is a brief taxi or bus ride away in Rosporden.