Friends lured us to Brittany, in the westernmost part of France, with promises of beautiful sand beaches, spectacular scenery and superb seafood. Where better, we thought, for a romantic getaway? We chose, at their suggestion, the Finistère, farthest west of all, where the land literally ends (Finistère means land’s end). We found all they promised, and a lot more.
Walks Above the Sea
Just west of Portsall we stopped at the tiny chapel of St Samson and, following the path below it, discovered a “holy well” (Brittany is heavy with reminders of its Celtic origins) with fresh flowers on it. A path continued along the clifftops, dipping to rocky coves. The sea here is unforgiving and has broken and worn the cliffs and ledges into strange shapes, forming occasional tumbles of huge balanced boulders that looked ready to fall into the sea at any moment. We stopped to admire the views and the wildflowers alongside the trail and met only an occasional pair of walkers like ourselves.
Tea and Ice Cream in a Boat
There’s not much to the tiny harbor of Argenton, in Porspoder, but a unique tearoom caught our eye. In a blue wooden boat — formerly a fishing boat, the owner told us — is the inviting Fleur de Thé, where we found a cozy interior filled with little tables lined along the curving hull. The tea room doubles as an ice cream parlor, so we had dishes of ice cream before choosing from a long selection of teas, which included a rooibos blend so delicious we brought home two bags.
Mist and Butter Cakes
On a foggy day in Le Conquet, near a ruined Medieval abbey that stands under a lighthouse at Pointe Saint Mathieu, we followed a coastal path under buildings that rise high above the harbor. In the atmospheric town center above, where flowers and occasional bright blue doors lightened the mood of its gray stone houses, we bought beautiful, locally crafted pottery. On the way to the lighthouse and abbey we stopped at Biscuiterie de la Pointe Saint Mathieu to sample sea-salt caramels and Kouign Amann, a sturdy, buttery Bretton cake.
The World’s Best Frites
Instead of the restaurants that line the picturesque harbor of Camaret-sur-Mer, we followed our local friend’s suggestion to Le Ti-Son, a casual, cheery restaurant with a shaded garden behind it. Its were, our friend assured us, the best moules frites in Brittany (which as any good Bretton will remind you, means the best in the world). Sadly, we were about two weeks ahead of the season for local mussels, and the chef refuses to serve anything but the freshest fat mussels from the nearby shore. So we had the famous frites (and yes, they are the best we’ve ever tasted) with a luscious, brined, slow-cooked pork knuckle sauced in Roquefort.
And a Beach
Every soaring headland on the ragged 750-mile coast of the Finistère seems to hide a white-sand beach in a cove beneath it. The beach just below Le Ti-Son isn’t hidden — we spotted Plage de Kerloc’h from the road, backed by tall, dark cliffs eroded into swirls and caves. At one end they have worn right through the point to form an arch. It’s not a secret beach, but the sand stretches so far in both directions we had no trouble finding a spot at one end where ours were the only footprints in the sand. The receding tide had left little pools of water among the eroded rocks, like a Zen rock garden, but with crystal-clear pools around the rocks instead of raked sand.