Sillon de Talbert
A tail in the Channel
Like an upright tail on the end of the strange creature that is the Côte de Granit Rose, the Sillon de Talbert is a truly extraordinary geological phenomenon: a long, thin trail of pebbles stretching far into the Channel from a striking headland known as the Presqu’ile Sauvage, or wild peninsula.
Astonishing fact and fiction
The Sillon de Talbert looks unbelievably fragile, such a thin line of land reaching 3 kilometres into the sea. Around just 35 metres wide, it’s made up mostly of sand and pebbles. How did this natural phenomenon come about? Situated between the large estuaries of the Trieux and Jaudy, it seems that the tidal currents of the two rivers helped create and then maintain the incredible structure, standing up to the tough Channel waves, although the latter have worn down the rocks along its length. Competing Arthurian legends claim that it was painstakingly built by Morgane, to reach King Arthur, or by Merlin, to join Viviane.
Algae and ornithology
Seaweed of all sorts proliferates around the sillon and has long been harvested here. The tradition of drying algae on the pebble bar goes back many centuries, with references found as far back as the 13th century. Locals used algae as fertilizer. Later, different types came to serve different industrial uses, from glass-making to pharmaceuticals. The Centre d’Etude et de Valorisation des Algues, at the nearby Pen Lann peninsula, presents the subject in serious manner, and also oganizes guided tours out onto the Sillon de Talbert. Certain seabirds love to nest on it, so in season, access may be limited.
Discovering the sillon
When accessible, it makes for an exhilarating walk, heading out along the Sillon de Talbert, although you feel exposed to the full force of the Channel as you leave the mainland behind. Out to sea, the Phare des Héaux is one of the highest lighthouses off the French coast. To the east, the island of Modez, standing in the sea between Talbert and the Île de Bréhat, still bears the marks of its Dark Ages monastic inhabitants, in the form of a rare round structure.
Did you know?
Farmers traditionally spread algae on their fields in spring becauseit helped keep their land moist and fed their crops with usefulnutrients like potassium.
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