Tell me, am I the only one with a serious case of wanderlust at the moment? As we all sit at home and dream of travelling, how about I take you on a little photo tour? To one of my favourite places in the world. No, not New York for once… and no other major city either. Instead, how would you feel about nature, beaches and waves? Sounds good? Come with me to the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon / Brittany.
Growing up, I spent many summers in Brittany as a kid. And the area around Quiberon and Carnac has always been a family favourite. As an adult, I’ve expanded to other parts of Europe and the world and gave Brittany a miss for a very long time. But I do love coming back every now and then (and I always regret that I don’t make the time much more often). One absolute must-do every time I am in the area, is visit the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon. This stretch of coast is just magical, any time of year. But what makes it so very special? Well, let me tell you a bit about it. And most importantly, let me show you some photos of the Côte Sauvage. So that you can see for yourself, why I love this stretch of coast so much.
What is the Côte Sauvage Quiberon?
Côte Sauvage in English means ‘Wild Coast’. Which might give you a clue of what to expect when visiting the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon.
The pensinsula of Quiberon has two very different stretches of coast: The east coast is facing the Baie du Quiberon (Quiberon Bay). A quiet bay, with lovely sandy beaches and calm and warmish water. Perfect for a summer day by the beach. The west side is the Côte Sauvage. This approx. 10km (6 miles) stretch of coast faces the Atlantic. Braving the wind and storms, the water is colder and much rougher. Although there are some sandy beaches here as well, swimming is not encouraged. As the currents can be rather strong and none of the beaches have lifeguards on duty. The Côte Sauvage is a nature reserve with rocks, cliffs and sparse vegetation.
Where is the Côte Sauvage Quiberon?
As already mentioned, the Côte Sauvage is the west coast of the Presqu’île de Quiberon (the Quiberon Peninsula) in Brittany / France. It stretches from the southern tip of Quiberon to Saint Pierre de Quiberon and Portivy.
A coastal road meanders along the Côte Sauvage for most of the stretch, making it easily accessible.
What can you do at the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon?
Hiking / walking
My favourite activity at the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon is simply walking. Even as an inexperienced hiker, you can easily do the entire stretch (as mentioned, approx. 8-10km). Or walk just part of it. Along the coastal road are several car parks, enabling you to start the trail anywhere along the stretch.
When walking the trail as a family back in the days, we would usually start at Quiberon. Then a few kilometres in, dad would rush back, get the car, park it further along the route, and come back to us…. Effectively doing the entire trail twice, so that once we got to the end (or as far as we fancied going that day), we were able to just go back into the car, without having to worry how to get back to Quiberon.
If none of you fancy doing the running back and forth, you could walk all the way to Saint Pierre de Quiberon, then get the train or bus back to Quiberon (or vice versa obviously).
The trail itself meanders along the top of the cliff. But you are able to get down to the water at some of the bays. At others, it is not recommended, due to unstable edges or very steep drops. You don’t need to be an experienced hiker to walk the trail and to be honest, it can easily be done in sandals, no hiking boots required. However, if you intend to crawl over rocks or get down to the water in some of the trickier bays, I would probably recommend slightly better footwear.
In low tide, it is tempting to go down to the water and walk along the bottom edge of the cliff instead. But when the tide comes back in, some of the bays will be cut off by the water and won’t have access to the top of the cliffs. So, should you decide to walk along the water, I would urge you to always keep an eye on the tide. Make sure you always have an exit in sight. As you really don’t want to be on those rocks, once the waves wash over them.
As you get towards the end of the trail, you will come to the Arche de Port Blanc. The water has washed out some of the rocks, leaving a magnificent stone arch. In low tide you can get down there and stand underneath the arch. If you happen to visit around sun set, take the time to just sit at the top, watch the sun set behind the arch and enjoy nature at its best. It is just magical.
There actually used to be two stone arches along the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon, however the second sadly caved in a couple of years ago.
Thanks to strong currents and winds, the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon is perfect for water sports like surfing. Especially early in the morning you can see plenty of surfers testing the waves.
You can find several surfing schools and rental stations in Quiberon and Saint Pierre de Quiberon, if you fancy giving it a try.
I am a little unsure whether to really recommend swimming as an activity at the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon. None of the beaches there have lifeguards, so anyone going into the water would do so at their own risk. Quite a few of the bays have pretty sandy beaches but are not suitable for swimming at all. However, as you get towards the end of the Côte Sauvage (close to Portivy, near Arche de Pont Blanc), you will find some beaches that are suitable for swimming and are easily accessible. That said, you should always be very cautious. The Côte Sauvage can have a very strong current and the water can get fairly rough. If you decide to go for a swim here, you should always stay near the shore, keep an eye on the tide and be alert.
The Côte Sauvage in Quiberon is a nature reserve. Whilst there is a trail along the top, some areas are fenced off (low fences, no worries, they won’t spoil the view). This is to enable nature to grow and restore itself. The weather is rough here with very strong winds, so you will only find very low and robust plants. And the odd bit of wildlife.
During our last stay in Portivy, I decided to go for a run along the Côte Sauvage in the morning. But had to eventually cut it short, as I was attacked by seagulls. They were nesting in the rocks and me running along the trail seemed to have triggered them to go into full protection mode. Lesson learned, best not to disturb any birds that are nesting here.
Hope you like this little photographic tour of the Côte Sauvage in Quiberon. Have you been there?