From rugged headlands and dramatic cliffs, to swathes of dancing wildflowers, wide sandy beaches and quaint fishing ports—this 160-kilometre (100-mile) walk along the coast of Brittany has it all!
During my initial research for this walk, I found that some Tourist Office websites described the GR 34 path as being dangerous in many places. As someone with a poor sense of balance, who is not good at clambering up rock faces, this news was a little disconcerting to me. What, exactly, made the path dangerous, I wondered? Was I likely to fall off a cliff? Or would I find myself having to sidle along narrow ledges, high above the ocean?
With this in mind, I decided that rather than walking the path alone from one end to the other, I would take a car to which I could retreat if the going got tough, and just do a LOT of walking.
My verdict? Most of this walk follows a gentle route—there is very little strenuous climbing and, on a sunny day with a gentle breeze, I would rate this (and continuing along the GR 34 to Lorient) as my favourite walk in France! Many times during my journey, I found myself sitting on a rock, admiring the view—unable to believe the world could be this beautiful!
However, there were sections of the walk where I needed to put away the camera and pay closer attention to what I was doing. In high winds or driving rain, this walk would be beyond my skill and experience level and I would need to take a taxi to reach my accommodation for the night. And, while I never felt in danger of falling into the ocean, I was aware that if I twisted an ankle, it might have been difficult to get help or make my way back to town. Of course, walking with a group will mitigate this risk.
Many sections of this walk are unsuitable for anyone with a fear of heights, as the path often skirts close enough to the edge of the coast that there is simply no denying that you are, indeed, a long way up!
Brittany is a holidaymakers’ paradise—you’ll find that you are never very far from a campground, sailing or surf school and I imagine that, during the summer months, campsites will be hard to find unless you book in advance. When I visited in May, it was much quieter—the weather was quite unpredictable (as is often the case during spring in France) and on weekdays, I was mostly alone on the path. Sunday afternoons, however, were a different story and I found myself sharing the path with hundreds of others—and their dogs—who clearly did not suffer from my balance limitations!
Services such as grocery stores and ATMs can be found at Camaret-sur-Mer, Morgat, Douarnenez and Audierne but are difficult to find outside of these towns. The main towns for each commune can be found a little further inland and can be reached by taxi, should you run low on supplies.
The perfect way to approach this walk is to carry a tent, check the weather each day and walk as far or as little as feels comfortable. And if you are an experienced—and sure-footed—walker, I can think of no more glorious way to spend a week or two!