|Perros-Guirec, Brittany, France Guide
|Perros-Guirec has been a popular seaside resort since the 19th century and continues to attract visitors today.
Located at the tip of a peninsula in the Côtes-d'Armor Département of Brittany (map), Perros-Guirec promotes itself for "la vie en roz." Indeed, the pink granite coast line is dramatic and beautiful, and this lovely old town is a great place to explore it. It's about 165 kilometers (just over 100 miles) northwest of St. Malo.
The town itself is rather small, with a year-round population of fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. Many visitors come to enjoy the beaches, and others to walk Le Sentier des Douaniers, or the Custom Officers' Path, a beautiful trail along the red rocks. You'll find a variety of restaurants, shops, and food stores in the town, as well as many places to buy beach clothes and toys, and of course ice cream!
What to See and Do
Perros-Guirec is a great place to spend time outdoors! Beaches and the Sentier des Douaniers (walking trail along the red granite coast) are the highlights.
If you like beaches, you have several different ones to choose from. The largest, and closest to the center of town, is the Plage de Trestraou. This beach, which is 1.4 kilometers long, is very wide at low tide and offers great expanses for swimming and relaxing. A number of restaurants line the waterfront, and there are changing rooms and bathrooms.
Trestraou is also the place from which excursion boats leave. One of the most popular excursions is to the Seven Islands, an archipelago which includes important bird sanctuaries, including for the famous "fou de bassan," or gannets, who nest there. You'll want to book the boat in advance, as they do fill up.
A second beach toward the tip of the peninsula is the Plage de Trestrignel. In addition to the beach, it offers lovely views of some of the area's mansions.
The third beach, Plage de Saint-Guirec, is much smaller, but also lovely. Saint-Guirec was a 6th century Welsh monk who came to Brittany to set up a monastery. The Oratory of Saint-Guirec, first built in the 11th century (and restored in 2021), stands on this beach, with a chapel behind it. Over the centuries women have come to pray for their husbands who were at sea, or to pray to find a husband. The current statue, in stone, dates from 1904; the original statue in wood is in the chapel.
We reached the Oratory after walking along Le Sentier des Douaniers, one of the most delightful things to do in Perros-Guirec. Created in 1791 and used by customs men to prevent smuggling, the Sentier is one of the most famous hiking trails in Brittany, stretching along the coast from Mont-Saint-Michel to Saint-Nazaire—2000 kilometers in all! In Perros-Guirec you can pick up the Côte Rose part of the trail and enjoy a lovely walk among the beautiful pink granite.
You can start walking from the Plage de Trestraou, or you can drive a bit farther and park at Le Ranolien. We walked from there along the coast, enjoying the sights along the way (including the Men Ruz lighthouse (seen in the fog both times we went by). We stopped at the Maison du littoral, a welcome center, where you can buy a small brochure that identifies the sights along the route.
After a picnic at Saint-Guirec, we continued on to the port of Ploumanac'h, which has been a fishing center since Gallo-Roman times. Although mostly used for pleasure craft today, there are still a few fishing boats, as well as restaurants and picnic areas.
Along the way you'll also see a few buildings, or remains of buildings, some of which represent more recent history. For example, the Men Ruz lighthouse was destroyed on August 4, 1944, and rebuilt from pink granite in 1947.
A walk along the Sentier des Douaniers is a lovely way to spend a few hours (and by the way, we recommend going in the morning, as it is less crowded than the afternoon). The path is mostly wide and fairly level, though there are opportunities to climb over the rocks. Saint-Guirec has several restaurants, boulangeries, and ice cream shops, and it makes a great stop along the way.
Perros-Guirec also has a small port de plaisance (marina) in the center of town.
The Tourist Information Office is at 21, Place de l'Hôtel de Ville (+33 (0)2 96 23 21 15) and is easily recognized by its "La Vie en Roz" pink banners. They have maps of the area and tips about the beaches and the Sentier des Douaniers. While you're there, take a look at the lovely Hôtel de Ville just across the street.
Perros-Guirec is known for its lovely small hotels, many in historic buildings. We had a delightful stay at Les Hydrangéas, a small and recently restored hotel near the Plage de Trestrignel. For more information, click here.
Fun Fact about Perros-Guirec: In The Phantom of the Opera, Perros-Guirec is where Christine's scarf is blown into the sea and rescued by Raoul de Chagny, many years before they meet at the opera. It is also where Christine's father is buried, and where the Phantom plays her father's violin for her.
From Perros-Guirec we enjoyed a scenic drive along the coast, with a lovely side trip for a picnic on l'Île Grande, a small island reached by a bridge just after the town of Penvern. Not knowing where we were going, we drove for a while, wondering if we would find a good place to stop, and voila! A lovely little fishing area, with tables and a hiking trail. My favorite part was the aluminum fish table, which had a chalked message on it saying (in French), "Hello, next sale Thursday June 15, 10:30-18:00, fish and shellfish, according to arrival. Katrina." Wish we could have stayed around for some of that fresh fish!
Instead, we went on to the fascinating Cairn of Barnenez, a Neolithic tomb dating from 4500 BCE. Well worth a visit. From there we headed to Morlaix, a great place to base yourself to visit the Enclos Paroissiaux.