The Crozon peninsula in western Finistere has three promontories – like three fingers sticking out into Iroise Sea. Cap de la Chevre is the southernmost cape, Pointe de Pen-Hir is the middle one and Pointe des Espagnols is the northernmost one.
We start with Pointe de Pen-Hir. The holiday makers flock to the white beaches and the marina of Camaret Sur Mer (and those with a historical bent will want to see the UNESCO-listed Vauban Tower, part of the fortifications of the Goulet de Brest strait).
Beyond Camaret, the wind and sea do their work on the rocky cliffs, creating a rugged landscape of sparse vegetation and wonderfully varied rock formations. The views stretch south to Cap de la Chevre and beyond to Cap Sizun Peninsula with its Pointe du Raz and north as far as Pointe Saint-Mathieu. Islets and rocks dot the tumbling sea below and we sit in a sheltered spot, looking through a window in the rock towards where Canada must surely be. Below us, rock climbers scale the 200-feet cliffs.
Before the very end of the promontory, facing almost directly west, stands the Cross of Pen-Hir, the Monument to the Bretons of Free France, commemorating the Breton part in the Free France movement. The memorial was created in the late 1940's and is perhaps too overwhelmingly monumental for modern taste, but it speaks of its time and is worth walking up to to pay your respects – and admire the spectacular location and the splendid outlook.
On the way back we turn towards the Lagatjar alignments, a megalithic site just west of Camaret. Not as numerous as the much better known Carnac stones, these rows of around 65 menhirs on a common by the roadside are nevertheless quite impressive, and even more so because we are free to wander around (the Younger Child delights in hiding behind them). Purple orchids bloom in the grass that surrounds the stones and the site has a magical but uplifting feel to it (unlike the Carnac stones that felt a tad unnerving).
Before we start on the way back, we have time to drive around the Roscanvel outgrowth, stopping at the Pointe des Espagnols to see the fortifications at the end and look beyond to the port of Brest. The name of the cape refers to the fort, built here by the Spanish in preparation for the siege of Brest during the French Wars of Religion. The current fortifications, however, date to the 18th and 19th centuries, grim, hostile buildings in the service of the industrialised war.
People come to the viewing platform here to look at the shipping, the yachts and the nuclear submarines which have a base at the nearby Ile Longue, but overall this promontory is an interesting but ultimately a bit disappointing contrast to the wind-swept and wild glory of the Pen-Hir and the magic of the Lagatjar menhirs.