Carantec et la baie de Morlaix
Individual islands and ancient art
The Bay of Morlaix is best known for its little islands: imposing Château du Taureau, idyllic Île Callot and the tiny islets that make up one of Brittany’s most important ornithology reserves. Then there’s the resort of Carantec, spectacular views and Europe’s largest megalithic mausoleum.
The town of Morlaix, after which the bay was named, was a very prosperous trading centre in the 16th century, so much so that in 1522 it was attacked by English infiltrators who wanted a piece of the action. As a result, a fearsome-looking fort, the Château du Taureau was built in 1544 to prevent further attacks. In the 17th century, it was fortified by the legendary military engineer Vauban and in the 18th century was used as a jail. Today it’s a listed building where visitors can enjoy themed tours.
A great escape
West of the fort is the lovely island of Callot, a great place to get away from it all out of high season. Less than two miles long, the island is accessible from the mainland at low tide, which is only for a few hours each day – otherwise it’s the boat! Callot is home to nine families and is popular with day visitors for its lovely coves, views and summer festivities including music in the chapel and art exhibitions. Granite from the island was used to build many of Morlaix’s buildings.
Seven small islets make up an ornithology reserve, which was created in 1962 to protect puffins and terns. The reserve is home to France’s only colony of Roseate Terns and welcomes around 60,000 pairs of seabirds in winter. There are boat trips around the islets in summer.
On the west side of the bay, Carantec is an attractive family resort with seven beaches and an array of watersports on offer. To the east of the town is the Pen al Lann promontory, which gives wonderful views across the bay and islands. Waterside Claude Goude park is a lovely spot for a picnic.
On the eastern side is Europe’s oldest and largest Megalithic mausoleum, the Cairn of Barnenez. Dating from 4500BC, the structure is known for its wealth of engraved symbols.
Did you know?
Île Noire (Black Island), one of Morlaix’s islands, apparently inspired the title of a Tin Tin book after creator Hergé holidayed in the area.