The Pink Granite Coast ("Côte de Granit Rose")
The coast around Ploumanac'h is part of the "Pink Granite Coast" which is called like this because of its pink granite boulders. There are rocks everywhere in all kind of sizes, up to 20m high, it's amazing! There's a hiking path along the coast, the "Sentier des Douaniers", and at the part north-east of the village there were several short side paths that get you closer to interesting rock formations and offer nice views on the coast. Depending on the weather it may also be possible to see the "Sept-Îles" (Seven Islands), a group of five (yes, only 5!) islands a few kilometres north of the coast. We only could guess where the islands were as it was too dizzy.
As the pink granite rocks are such an interesting sight, it's a pretty touristy place. There were some busses on the village car park, and there were quite some people on the coastal path from the village to the lighthouse. After the lighthouse the path was less frequented.
- Hiking and Walking
"Mean Ruz" Lighthouse
The "Phare due Mean Ruz" is found at the entrance of the channel that leads to the port of Ploumanac'h. Together with the "Maison du Littoral" which is closeby it is a landmark of the pink granite coast. The lighthouse was built with pink granite, replacing a former one which was destroyed in 1944. The pink granite is also where it's got its name from – "men ruz" in Breton means "red stone".
The lighthouse is still in use and cannot be visited, but there's a path to it from where you can enjoy the views on the coast.
Costaérès Island and Castle
The l'Île de Costaérès is a small rocky island which lies near the beach of Ploumanac'h but actually belongs to the community of .
On the island is a castle which looks pretty lovely. It was built in the 19th century by Bruno Abakanowicz in a style of a medieval castle. The castle was meeting point of many Polish emigrants and Henryk Sienkiewicz here wrote his novel "Quo Vadis" in 1095. Today, the castle & island are owned by the German comendian Didi Hallervorden, and unfortunately it cannot be visited.
- Castles and Palaces
The main beach of the village is named after Saint Guirec, a Welsh monk who came to Brittany in the 6th century to evangelise the people. There's a shrine at the beach dedicated to him that was built in the 12th century, the "Oratoire de Saint-Guirec" (Oratory of Saint Guirec). It only can be reached at low tide. It's said that if a young women is tweaking the nose of the saint's statue with a needle, she gets married within one year.
Just my sort of beach!
(work in progress)
Oh my, I love this beach!!! And whilst it might not be everyone's definition of their perfect beach, it's pretty close to mine! In fact this reminds me of my all time favourite beach - Boulders Beach in Simonstown, just south of Cape Town, except that it's colder and there is a conspicuous absence of penguins.
Firstly, I think that sandy beaches are overrated. On sandy beaches, there's usually precious little to look at - except sand, of course - and that fine stuff gets pretty pesky when it migrates into all those nooks and crannies. This beach is comprised of fine gravel, but I rather like it as it's reassuringly solid underfoot and sparkly in the light.
Secondly, this beach has fantastic boulders. There ones are on the scale of giant's marbles (if we're being polite), and they're unexpected and utterly brilliant.
And there are terrrific rockpools that you can explore to your heart's content. What more could you ask for?
Well, actually warm water, as this - like all of the northern Bretagne coast - is pretty freezy. But then I'm not a magician!
Getting up Saint Guirec's nose
(work in progress)
On the beach at Ploumanac'h you'll find an unexpected little shrine containing the somewhat battered statue of St Guirec.
Saint Guirec is one of the panoply of Breton saints who don't make the official Vatican List and whose origins are lost in the mists of time. He has been venerated on this site since the 12th century and is particularly appealing to women.
His influence was often invoked by fishermen's wives to protect their husbands during their voyages to sea. More interestingly, a legend grew up that if an unmarried women could get a needle to stick in the nose of the statue, she would be married within the year: the origins of this superstition are not clear, but it would be an interesting debate over a glass or two of cidre! Unsurprisingly, this did little for the state of repair of the original wooden statue and it was wisely replaced with a granite figure. The practice continued nonetheless, hence the sad state of the statue's face, damaged not by yobbish teenage vandals but by centuries of eager spinsters keen to find themselves a husband!
The oratory is perched atop a boulder, and is surrounded by water at high tide, so that the saint looks calmly out to sea from his own personal island. If you'd like to see this, then be sure to visit early in the morning when the tide is in.
And a note for the non-native English speakers: 'getting up someone's nose' is a slang expression for irritating them, which is probably fairly likely if you're shoving sticks up their snout!
Erratic boulders on the beach
(work in progress)
Ploumanach's is located on the famous Pink Granite Coast of Bretagne, which is famed for its wierd and wonderful weathered rocks.
The beach is strewn with enormous boulders, some of which appear to be so precariously balanced that it's a marvel that they're still standing. If you have time - which unfortunately we didn't - the walk along the coast between Ploumanac'h and Perros-Guirec is apparently especially scenic and passes many rocks that have been oddly sculpted by the elements, including one that has been christened 'Napoleon's Hat'.
Château de Costaérès: the local island castle
(work in progress)
Château de Costaérès is an enormous faux medieval castle located on a rocky island just offshore of Ploumanac'h and is probably one of the most photographed buildings along this section of coast.
Despite its ancient appearance, it is a fairly modern structure and was constructed at the turn of the 20th century by an engineer of Polish origins. Unsurprisingly, it was requisitioned by the German army during World War II, and these days has been returned to German ownership, as it was bought by the German slapstick comedian Dieter Hallervorden.
The name of the castle derives from the Breton phrase 'kozh-sec'herezh' which refers to the fact that fisherman used to use this rocky island to dry their fish.
Saint Guirec and Young eligable women
On the beach of Ploumanac'h, the small oratory of Saint Guirec is surrounded by water. According to ancient tradition, young woman in search of a husband would come to stick a pin into Saint Guirec's nose. If the pin stayed in, they were sure to marry within the year. If not, they had to wait another year.
Today, a granite statue had replaced the old mouldy wax saint and young women interogate the statue in vain.
The shapes of the rocks Ploumanac'h are diverse and sometimes surprising.
And here is one of the strange shape..... it's a pig?
In the middle of the bay, on Costaéres island, is the strange larger than life silhouette of the neo-medieval castle built by Polish engineer in the late 19th century.