A totemic hilltop
Dominating the Bay of Douarnenez, the long-backed Menez-Hom hill was sacred to prehistoric people and inspired Breton legends. Take in the sensational views from the top, over 1,000ft above sea level, and you’ll understand why it was considered so special. The Menez-Hom proves an exhilarating place.
The Menez-Hom is the most westerly, most majestic of the hills of the Montagnes Noires that run across southern Finistère. From its rounded heights, you get uplifting, 360º views across the county’s western parts and the ocean beyond. It’s thought Celts worshipped their sun god here, while a mother goddess was honoured at a spring on the hillside. Mysterious traces of stone walls have been found around the top of the Menez-Hom, but no one is quite sure from when they date.
A legendary trail
A Neolithic tomb on the Menez-Hom was converted by Breton myth-makers into the burial place of Marc’h, an accursed king of these parts. He’s tragically associated with several legends. He becomes entangled in the great cautionary tale of the churchless town of Ys, built for beautiful, demonic Dahut. Out hunting, Marc’h hits a fine hind with an arrow, but the weapon bounces back to kill his precious steed. To add insult to injury, he finds his ears turned to those of a horse – ‘Marc’h’ means ‘horse’ in Breton. His fear of ridicule leads to dire consequences. Then, ill-fated man, he becomes terribly entwined in the tragic love triangle involving Tristan and Yseut. You can follow the trail of King Marc’h from the Menez-Hom across the Crozon Peninsula thanks to panels set up along the way.
A chapel with secrets
On the hill’s southern slope, the chapel of Ste-Marie-du-Menez-Hom is surprisingly ornate for such a rural setting. Taxes raised at the annual fairs held here helped pay for it. Don’t miss the extravagant decorations inside. A plaque also recalls how, in the Second World War, a number of British and American airmen whose planes had been shot down over France were hidden here until they could be put aboard a boat across the Channel – all made it back to England safely.
Did you know?
Now, thrill-seekers hang-glide from the top of the Menez-Hom, butyou can take in its magnificence without taking to the air – there’s acar park near the top, and hiking trails lead off in all directions.
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