There must be something wildly romantic about a place called Finistere. I am not sure whether it's the name (I have a verging-on-obsessive penchant for end-of-the-world kind of places, and here is one which is actually called that!), the there-be-dragons feel, maybe even the eponymous album of the New-Orleans punk-folk Zydepunks had something to do with it. Finistere beckoned, thus, and one cold and sunny April morning we drove from our Morbihan gite to the end of the world (or, as you might have it, the Land's End). Incidentally, Finistere is the westernmost departement of France, Cornouaille is one of its historical regions and the whole departement lies directly across the Channel from Cornwall.
We drive west from central Morbihan to the part of the coast that appears – on the map at least – to be the most irregular and thus the most interesting. The landscape changes subtly, although it's still mostly the rolling Breton countryside, with pretty fields (if fields rock your boat) and little villages, some modern, some apparently dwelling in a time-warp of sorts. Plenty of "A VENDRE" signs, and on the more ruinous and dilapidated stone long-houses, sometimes the A VENDRE is accompanied by FOR SALE.
We cross river Aulne in the attractive town of Chateaulin (Kastellin in Breton) and as we drive west, there cultivated land becomes interspersed with wilder terrain, more hilly and rugged, similar to an open moor. Armorica Regional Nature Park protects the comparative wilderness of the westernmost reaches of Brittany, including Monts d'Arre, a hilly area where the Celtic mythology and early Christian traditions mingle to create the tales so dear to any fantasy reader.
Brittany is known for its elaborate, stone Calvaries, acting both as road-side or church-square shrines and way markers. We see a splendid one of those in the hamlet of Sainte-Marie du Menez-Hom, standing under the shadow of the moor-bare hill next to an attractive chapel. The interior, full of frenetic Baroque altars and statuary dripping with gold is also definitely worth a look.
From there we drive to Crozon through a hilly country with frequent glimpses of the sea, blue and white below high cliffs. We lunch in the Ble Noir creperie, on a set meal of a savoury buckwheat crepe, a sweet wheat crepe and a "boule" (cup) of cider. Crozon has a sea-side district, Morgat, with a busy beach, a marina, sea caves and some interesting rocks onto which the children proceed to climb as soon as they are let out of the car.
It's getting on and we need to decide which of the fingers of the Crozon peninsula we are going to see first as we might not have time to drive around all three. Cap de la Chevre is the southernmost point, Pointe de Pen-Hir is the middle one sticking out directly west into the Iroise Sea and Pointe des Espagnols is the northernmost, protecting the outer harbour of Brest from the Atlantic storm, and, as the name suggests, Spanish attacks. We go for the middle one and set of to drive to Camaret sur Mer and Pointe de Pen-Hir.