Hamlet of Ménéham
Boulders and buildings
Giant dollops of stone give an otherworldly look to the peninsulas around Kerlouan on the north Finistère coast between Roscoff and Brest. While virtually every back garden around here can boast an astonishing, natural rock feature, the remarkably restored and rocky village of Ménéham is the highlight.
Hamlet brought back to life
The extraordinary coastal hamlet of Ménéham, lies low amidst the great boulders that dramatically litter the Kerlouan coastline. The most startling building, a 17th-century coastguard’s cottage with stone roof, sits cunningly disguised between two huge rocks. It went up to spy on the sea in the period when France and England were at war. The village behind is of later date, built in part to house customs men trying to stop smuggling. Then farmers moved in, but in the last century, the place became increasingly neglected.
Recently, Ménéham has been brought back to life as a showcase village. The lovely buildings set among the sandy grasslands have all been restored, many with thatch. Films projected in various parts tell of the communities who lived here in the past. Fine craft shops have opened in the semi-detached dwellings at the centre of the community.
One spectacular joy at Ménéham is to clamber up to the top of the vast boulders encasing its most extraordinary edifice – from these perched platforms, you can scan the coast for long stretches, even as far as the Ile Vierge lighthouse. The vantage point might help you choose which of the splendid rock-strewn beaches to try; they extend to east and west. Those at the foot of Ménéham are tempting enough, but also explore the strands at Brignogan-Plages.
Long established among the stones
Seek out another extraordinary, older building caught up in the boulders nearby. Between Ménéham and Brignogan, by the Pointe de Pontusval, the Chapelle Pol makes another startling sight, dwarfed by its rocky bodyguards. In contrast, the Menhir Men Marz stands up for itself, a monumental Neolithic structure. As for the lighthouse of Pontusval, it’s encircled by forbidding rocks.
Did you know?
Ménéham’s inn has also been brought back to life, adding to the appeal of a stop in this remarkably preserved seaside village.