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The Finistère Riviera

Beig-Meil

Creeks of translucent water

With its mild climate, the south coast of Quimper has a real Riviera feel about it. Sculpted by the sea, the landscapes of Fouesnant, La Forêt-Fouesnant, Bénodet and Sainte-Marine are dotted with little ports, maritime pine trees and beautiful seaside villas.

In the shade of the pines on Cap-Coz beach or facing the bay of La Forêt, you’ll discover the perfect family beach setting: fine sand with areas of shade under the pine trees, no need to rush off at high tide… the ideal beach that feels like paradise.

Behind Cap-Coz, there’s a change of scene. A mature forest, sails in all shapes and sizes and the last word in high-tech sailing equipment: this is Port-la-Forêt, the maritime showcase of La Forêt-Fouesnant, and the paradise hideout for fans of the open sea. Known to insiders as ‘Portlaf’, this is Brittany’s second largest port, accommodating up to 1,130 boats, and it’s the home of ‘Pôle Finistère Course au Large’, a Centre of Excellence where the great names and rising stars of international sailing train alongside each other. The skippers of Port-la-Forêt have already carved out a long and prestigious trail.


Since the end of the 19th century, its splendid beaches and mild countryside of orchards rolling down to the sea have made the shores of La Forêt-Fouesnant an ideal destination. Painters, sculptors, authors and playwrights – including Marcel Proust and his friend Reynaldo Hahn, Sarah Bernhardt – have always loved this Riviera-style coastline. (photo: Y.Le Gal)

The coastal walk begins at Cap-Coz beach and, through secret creeks and low cliffs, emerges in Beg-Meil harbour. You hardly know where to look. First, you check the path to be steady on your feet, then you gaze at the vast bay and the seaside resort of Concarneau opposite, and finally at the trees filled with birds.

From Fouesnant to the woods of Penfoulic, from the dunes of Beg-Meil to the Pointe de Mousterlin, these landscapes are a blend of woodland, meadows, maritime marshes, coastal darts, strings of dunes, beaches and seashores. There are so many natural riches to discover and admire – and you can do so with one of the guides from the Maison des Marais on one of the many outings that they offer all year round.

Architecural work, seaside beauty

Now let’s head west to the Pointe de Mousterlin, where the view encompasses the entire bay of the Glénan Archipelago. The long dunes here protect the lagoon from the Mer Blanche, whose mudflats and aquatic plants are so prized by the herons and egrets. At Le Letty and Pointe Saint-Gilles, you’re already approaching Bénodet. With its casino, its Thalasso Spa and its marina sheltered in a cove of the River Odet, Bénodet is a charming resort. Its coastal road, which runs along the Odet estuary and connects the marina to the Pointe du Coq, offers an exceptional view over the mouth of the most beautiful river in France, dotted with rocky creeks and family beaches.

Opposite, the seaside resort of Sainte-Marine in Combrit boasts an ideal location combining both river and sea, plus a marina with welcoming pontoons. Until the 1930s, this was an active port, as proven by its ‘Abri du marin’ Sailor Shelter, opened in 1910 by philanthropist and sailor Jacques de Thézac who had settled down in a neighbouring villa.  At the end of the cove, protected from the westerly winds, this Sailor Shelter is now an eco-museum of estuary maritime life at the time of fishing boats, steam-powered ferries and the superb Donat sailboats. The Lighthouse Trail leads up the fort of Napoléon III, which is now an exhibition space in summer just a stone’s throw from the Point.

But there are still plenty of secrets in this Finistère Riviera – you’ll have to discover them yourself! 

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