Numerous sites to visit
You'd better plan for at least a week here! The islands and coast of the Bay of Morlaix abound in striking natural and man-made heritage sites, viewpoints, trails, gardens, and fascinating civic and religious monuments, with plenty of appeal for both young and old.
The islands in the Bay of Morlaix
Château du Taureau
The emblem and centrepiece of the bay! First built in the 16th century to protect Morlaix against incursions by English mariners, then improved by Vauban in the 18th century, the Château du Taureau has at one time or another served as defensive bastion, prison, second home and sailing school base, before being abandoned in the early 1980s. Magnificently restored, it is now open to the public from April to September. You can sail to it yourself or take a boat trip from Carantec or Plougasnou (it is a good idea to book in advance).
More information: www.chateaudutaureau.com
The Île Louët lighthouse was built in 1857 by Fenoux (the same engineer who built the Morlaix Viaduct) to provide a permanent light source to guide ships sailing into Morlaix Port. A succession of lighthouse keepers and their families lived there until the automation of the lighthouse in the 1960s. Renovated in 2004 by Carantec Council, the lighthouse, outbuildings and terrace are rented out by the council as a gîte from March to October (Tourist Office Bay of Morlaix – Monts d’Arrée). Due to its understandable popularity, bookings need to be made well in advance! However, the magical Île Louët is never closed to the public and remains accessible by yacht even when rented out.
An island at high tide, Callot becomes a peninsula at low tide. It can then be accessed via a submersible causeway. Pay careful attention to the tide times! The southern part of the island is permanently inhabited and farmed. The wilder northern part is a nature reserve overlooked by the Notre Dame de Kallod chapel, which originated in the 6th century. A number of trails criss-cross the island, weaving through maritime pines, ferns, moorland, gorse, alpine sea-holly, and giving breathtaking views over the Bay of Morlaix. The surrounding beaches, seabed and strand are the delight of swimmers, divers and fishermen on foot. Granite from Callot can be found in numerous local buildings, not least the Tobacco Factory and the Morlaix Viaduct.
Île-de-Batz and the Georges Delaselle Garden
Covering 3.5 km from east to west, Île-de-Batz (www.iledebatz.com) is a district in its own right with a little over 500 inhabitants. The heart of the island is criss-crossed with small enclosed fields that are protected from the wind and sand by stone walls. The top of the lighthouse (44 m) offers a unique panorama of the island and its varied landscapes: the wild region, cultivated fields, massive dunes, fine sandy beaches, rocky drops, moors and wetlands… On the eastern side of the island, the lush and exotic vegetation of the Georges Delaselle Garden contrasts with the surrounding sea views. This garden of rare beauty also contains the remains of a Bronze Age necropolis.
Other islands and islets
Accessible by foot at low tide via the Barnenez Headland, the pine-covered Île Sterec strikes a contrast with the bare and arid Île Noire, upon which can still be seen the square tower of a working lighthouse. Île Noire is also accessible on foot during high coefficient tides. Being surrounded by oyster parks, it is very much appreciated by fishermen on foot!
Île-aux-Dames, Île Ricard and Île Beclem are nature reserves for protected species of birds and mooring is prohibited. The protection zone of 80 m is marked by yellow buoys: www.bretagne-vivante.org
Quaint little ports
Locquirec, Diben at Plougasnou, the Penzé estuary, Saint-Pol de Léon and the Old Port of Roscoff offera rich choice of stops for sailors.
Between land and sea
On Rails and Waves
An association of enthusiasts began organizing guided tours in and around the Bay of Morlaix in 1998. The trips are deliberately varied and include an outing at sea in a motor launch as well as a journey by train, with a professional tour guide to provide commentary on the natural and historical heritage. The association offers around fifty family excursions each year and arranges tailor-made days out for groups and schools. It is a good idea to book in advance (by email or telephone).
For more information : www.aferaflots.org
Roscoff, a city with a charm all its own
This former privateer city owes everything to its maritime environment, from the purity of the air and water to the mild climate, proof of which can be enjoyed in the flourishing Roscoff Exotic Garden just above the marina. The business of health and well-being first made its appearance in the city in the late 19th century. Why not treat yourself to the benefits of thalassotherapy, or visit the Seaweed Discovery Centre? The Maison des Johnnies pays tribute to Roscoff's onion-growing tradition – which began as a source of nourishment for sailing crews – as well as to the memorable merchants (nicknamed petit Jean or "Little John") who used to cross the Channel to sell their produce in Great Britain.
Roscoff tourist office Internet site: www.roscoff-tourisme.com
Cairn de Barnenez
Built before the pyramids of Egypt, in the 5th millennium BCE, Europe's largest megalithic mausoleum sits atop the Kernelehen Peninsula of Plouézoc, quietly overlooking the Bay of Morlaix. This "Prehistoric Parthenon", to use the description of André Malraux, comprises eleven galleried dolmens and can be visited all year round.
North Finistère is home to a collection of Parish enclosures unique to this part of the world. Comprised of an enclosure with a monumental gateway, a Calvary cross often decorated with sculpted figures, a charnel-house, and a church with the most magnificent baroque retables, these impressive churchyards bear witness to the profound religious fervour and economic prosperity of Brittany in the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of the nearest are Saint-Jean-du-Doigt, Plourin-Les-Morlaix, Plougonven, Saint-Thégonnec, Guimilliau, Lampaul-Guimilliau…
Château de Kerjean
Both a stronghold and a luxurious country seat, the Château de Kerjean was built at the end of the 16thcentury and, at that time, outshone all the other noble residences in the region. Annual exhibitions and a 49-acre park complete a visit to the galleries, private apartments and kitchens which testify to the elegant lifestyle enjoyed by the lords of Kerjean and their households. Guided tours and interactive material make sure you get the most out of your exploration of the chateau.
Les monts d'Arrée
The hinterland, or "mountain", as local people call it, dominates the landscape of peat bog and moorland, tight little wood and copse that extends to the brink of the sea. Silent and untamed, but easily accessible to walkers and mountain-bikers, the rocky ridges of Roc’h Trédudon and Roc’h Trévezel, as much as the domed silhouette of Mont Saint-Michel, transport one to the heart of a mysterious and legend-filled Brittany.
Museums and Galleries
Morlaix Museum (art gallery), Carantec Maritime Museum, Musée du Loup (Wolf Museum) in the Cloître Saint-Thégonnec, Yann d'Argent Art Gallery at Saint-Servais, ecomuseums at Plouigneau, Commana and Saint-Rivoal, Trégor Rural Museum at Guimaëc, Maison de la Rivière (River Discovery Centre) at Sizun, Maison dite de la Duchesse Anne (Duchess Anne's House) and Maison à Pondalez in Morlaix... how many reasons do you need to delve into the historical, artistic and environmental heritage of Morlaix and its environs!
Parks and gardens
Beneath small wild woods, windy moors, or craggy cliffs shelter cosy little coves bathed in sunlight, and in them walled gardens abounding with mimosas, fig-trees, palm trees, camellias, roses... The mildness of the local climate is exhibited in the numerous coastal gardens waiting to be explored: Roscoff Exotic Garden, Georges Delaselle Garden on Île-de-Batz, Keracoual Arboretum and Trogriffon Gardens at Henvic, Bagatelle Garden at Saint-Martin-des-Champs, Suscinio Botanical Garden in Morlaix…
Artists and artistic craftspeople
The ever-changing light and the beauty of the landscapes provide inspiration to numerous painters, sculptors, ceramists, jewellery designers and artistic bookbinders, who are only too happy to open their studio doors to you. More information available from tourist offices:
Local farmers and markets
Bread, traditional ciders, mead, honey, cheeses and dairy products, shellfish, oysters, meat, fish, vegetables both prepared and unprepared… you can of course buy your food in shops and at the markets, but you're equally welcome to buy direct from a number of local producers. Contact your nearest tourist office for more information.
Hiking paths and rural heritage
The GR 34 trail follows the coastline of the Bay of Morlaix. The entire region is covered in paths for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. How better to enjoy the great outdoors while discovering an astonishingly varied rural heritage which includes menhirs, remains of Roman roads, fountains, chapels, wayside crosses, dovecotes…
Contact your nearest tourist office for more information.