Reputed for its beauty but also for its dramatic mix of winds and huge waves breaking on the cliffs, la Pointe du Raz is one of the most popular natural sites in Brittany, and one of my favourite places in the region. Indeed, the best-selling postcard in Brittany features La Pointe du Raz!
The rocky shoreline is not France’s most western point (you’ll have to go north to the beautiful Pointe de Corsen for this), but it feels like it. Those who visited Land’s End, the most westerly point of England, will have the same feeling of reaching the end of the world.
My family comes from Brittany. When I was living in France, I spent most of my summer holidays there. I am very biased about it and, even if I easily admit there are many other beautiful destinations in France, I think Brittany is the best French region. Food, culture, history, a great variety of landscapes… There are a lot of things to do in Brittany and we have it all really!
Although I always explore many areas during my holidays, I don’t remember going to la Pointe du Raz as a kid. It had been on my to-do list for a while when I finally managed to go there during my summer holidays in 2008.
I hiked from la Pointe du Van to la Pointe du Raz to enjoy the breathtaking views of the clifftop walk before arriving at the famous Pointe du Raz.
Responsible travel tip: Make sure you stick to the path. They did a great job to protect the natural site after tourism had badly impacted it so that the vegetation regrows. The vegetation cover is important to maintain the beauty and ecosystem of a site, but also to avoid erosion. To help with conservation, follow the signs!
Hike from Pointe du Van – Pointe du Raz
La Pointe du Van is considered the “little sister” of la Pointe du Raz.
It is less popular, making it an enjoyable quieter place to connect with nature. The winding coastal path on top of the cliff is a great hike. It is part of the GR34, which goes all along the coasts of Brittany (from Mont Saint Michel to Lorient).
It took me 1 hour with a slow pace to reach the scenic “Bay of the Dead” (Baie des Trépassés). The name comes from the number of shipwrecks in the area that have some of the strongest currents in Europe. It does not seem to worry too much the surfers as the Bay of the Dead is a popular spot to catch good waves in Brittany.
It took me another hour going up the cliffs, at a quicker pace, to reach la Pointe du Raz.
I honestly found the hike as beautiful as the promontories themselves, and I highly recommend not limiting the visit to the promontories. I liked the panel of colours from the different varieties of flowers growing on the cliffs. A lot of purple and yellow, with some touches of blue and red… It gives these rocks a unique charm.
Pointe du Raz
I knew it was a popular site, and it was more crowded than I expected on this beautiful day. I don’t often say that, but I would have preferred to have a dark sky with strong winds… I was very disappointed to see a very calm ocean. The atmosphere that I had imagined from the photos and paintings I had seen for years was not happening. Some locals were even coming down to witness how calm it was for once. Bad luck!
Anyway, over 70 meters above sea level, the panorama from the cliff is beautiful, although it could get more impressive with bad weather.
They are making efforts in the area to protect the wilderness feeling and the environment that got degraded because of tourism. They destroyed buildings to place them further away from the coast. The paths are well delimited to preserve the regeneration of the land so it grows again into a wild coast. The site is nowadays only accessible by non-polluting buses or by foot (10min). When I was there, the buses were running from 1 pm to 6 pm: visiting the site outside of these hours – as you are hiking – would have been good to reduce the crowd!
Let me know if you plan to visit it soon; I will try to spot you on the live view of the Pointe du Raz!
Where is La Pointe du Raz?
It is one of France’s most westerly points, in Brittany, over 600km from Paris.
Quimper is located about 50km away, with trains (4h30 from Paris, 2h from Rennes) and an airport (direct flights to Paris and London). The bus 53b goes from Quimper to La Pointe du Raz.
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We just have been there some weeks ago, we did not do the hike but went just from the parking place up to the pointe, but it was lovely! And I totally see what you mean; I was a little disappointed as well not seeing giant waves breaking behind the lighthouse 🙂
Thank you for your comment, Lena! I guess summer might not be the best season for the dramatic weather 😉 I’m glad you had a good time in Brittany!