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Report 1980: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 1 Southern Finistère

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011

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Page 13 of 26: North Coast of the Crozon Peninsula

photo by MAW

Vauban Tower

We spent a day exploring the Crozon Peninsula. We decided to start with Landévennec for the ruined abbey and work our way round anticlockwise.

Landévennec is a long straggling settlement with very poor signing. We found the new Benedictine Abbey built in 1958, and we ended up down by the river. It took us three attempts to find the Ruins of the Old Abbey of St. Guénolé. There are a few brown signs but they are so small they are easily missed. The ruins are down a side road. There was no obvious parking so we parked beside a cafe that looked very shut up.

We got to the ticket office just ahead of a coach tour although the guide did say he would take them into the museum first so we could enjoy the abbey in peace. The curator wouldn’t let us use a credit card and he didn’t know how to use the till so it took several goes to sort it out. Each time the total owing was going up. We began to wonder whether it was worth it.

It wasn’t. The site is disappointing and in fact most of the remains of the abbey church can be seen through the railings without paying. This is in fact the view in all the pictures. The church has the remains of the cloisters to one side with the chapter house beyond. The nave pillars stand about two feet high. We didn’t bother with the museum or the rest of Landévennec.

Back on the main road, we picked up the white road round the coast to Lanvéoc, which is a nice little settlement with some old houses and a fairly plain church. We drove up to Fort Belvédère for the views. This still belongs to the military and is not open. There is a large car park and the road leads to the main entrance to the fort (1752). The fort is surrounded by large tapered walls and you can walk round the walls to the orientation table for views across to Brest and the submarine pens at Pointe des Espagnole.

We followed the coast through Le Fret, a nice little settlement on the coast with a lot of boats in the harbour and a seasonal ferry to Brest. The road goes across a shingle bar with a lagoon on one side. There are nice views along the coast road to Île des Morts and Île Trébéron

Roscanvel is a long straggly settlement with no real centre. St Elois church is modern inside with new stained glass windows. On the green to the south is a fountain with lavoir below.

We drove to Pointe des Espagnoles anticlockwise round the coast. From Roscanvel, it is built up with new houses separated by large grounds and trees. There is a lot of money around. Near the point there is a large car park with refreshments and an ice cream van. There are the remains of 19thC fortifications along the road. The track to the headland goes past the 1811 fortifications; large squat stone towers surrounded by a dry moat and gradually being over run by bracken. There was a sign about a small exhibition but it was very firmly shut. There are also the remains of later fortifications. There are reasonable views across to Brest. The west side of the headland is nicer with rough moorland and few settlements and a lot of military no-go areas.

We drove along the sea front at Camaret-Sur-Mer, a long sprawling settlement tucked away in the north eastern corner of the Crozon Peninsula. It is nearly all eateries spilling out over the pavement with a new pavement roped off along the side of the road. With parked cars on the other side, traffic was congested. We used the car park up behind Hotel Styvel at the end of the town which was virtually empty.

It was 2pm and everyone was finishing lunch and walking down to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Rocamadour, past the old fishing boats. It is a nice stone built church with model ships suspended from the ceiling. There is no east window; it has been filled with stone. Beneath is a simple altar painted in white and turquoise. There was a queue of people waiting to light candles in front of the side altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The Vauban Tower at the end of the peninsula is a massive square structure with a slate roof, red painted walls and granite blocks on the corners of the building and round the windows. It is reached by a drawbridge and surrounded by a moat. There was a steady stream of people heading across the drawbridge but most just looked through the gateway and turned round.

We decided to give Pointe de Toulinguet a miss and went to find the Alignements de Lagatjar. There are about 140 standing stones up to two meters in height, in the middle of a large grassy area. They are arranged in two rows with another row at right angles. There is ample parking along the side of the road and you can wander freely among the stones. We watched a coach tour drive slowly past with people taking photos out of the windows.

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