- Around 130 kilometers
- A fairly hilly path with a few steep inclines. Stretches of fairly stony ground.
- The best spots: all the coastal headlands around Camaret sur Mer have fantastic views of the ocean, the “Tas de Pois” (a group of exposed rocks near the Pointe de Pen Hir headland) and the islands in fine weather. The Pointe des Espagnols meanwhile provides a breathtaking view of Brest and its harbour. Lastly, the beaches and outskirts of Cap de la Chèvre and the almost Mediterranean landscape of the shore lined with pine trees, near Morgat, are also worth a visit!
- The footpath is passable all year around (apart from on stormy days!)
Finistère does however benefit from an often mild climate”
Hiking in winter isn’t always easy. In the mountains, the conditions are often more suited to skiing, or maybe snowshoeing, and in a lot of areas bare forests and grey skies do not make for very attractive scenery during long walks over several days. Right at the edge of the world, or Brittany at least, Finistère does however benefit from an often mild climate and although you should be wary of rain at times, a coastal hike is more than feasible, even in December or January.
As I share my life with a lovely Breton who’s a native of this beautiful plot of Celtic land, the idea of hiking along the Crozon peninsula between Christmas and New Year quickly gained traction!
I set aside four days to complete the trip, between Brest harbour and Douarnenez bay. On the first day, by myself, I managed a fairly long section of about 40 kilometres from the start of the peninsula to the Pointe des Espagnols: it wasn’t the most pleasant bit of the hike, although the path, through woodland, was nice enough. The next couple of days, along with my Breton wife and a few friends, I covered around 30 kilometres each day. We spent the night in the pretty fishing port of Camaret sur Mer.
So head straight for the GR 34, which follows the famous Breton customs officers’ footpaths.”
So head straight for the GR 34, which follows the famous Breton customs officers’ footpaths all along the coast (more than 1,800 kilometres in all!) for a tour of the famous cross-shaped peninsula, from point to point and from village to village..
The good weather arrived right on cue: lots of sunshine and more than mild temperatures. Most of the time I was walking in shorts and a T-shirt.
From there, what lay ahead was pretty much an completely coastal route, , fairly hilly and just delightful”
However, you should always plan on needing a bit more kit for peaceful hiking in Brittany in December – I got a good reminder on the final day, when I set off again alone towards Crozon. The forecast had indeed changed: a storm had taken the place of the good weather !
My bag (I’d brought along the Access 35 Crossover backpack, totally suited to this type of winter hiking because of its strength and capacity, with room to carry all that kit and a good picnic!) was a lot emptier than the previous days!
Trousers, waterproof jacket, and even a padded jacket and a first thermal layer were required”
But nothing went to plan: faced with gusts of more than 100 km/h and squally showers, making any headway along the path turned out to be really difficult, and the stretches through pine woods around Morgat weren’t very relaxing. Some large branches fell close to my path! So I called time on my last day of walking, a little earlier than planned, after about 25 kilometres.
Even in Brittany, on the coast, the weather, especially in winter, can gain the upper hand and cut short a day of sauntering along paths without it being too dangerous. You just have to accept it and put off the pleasure of exploring the rest of the GR 34 to Douarnenez until another time. It’s not a problem – I fully intend coming back to walk this beautiful customs officers’ path!