Cap Fréhel and Fort La Latte
Walking on the wild side
Bracing walks, soaring cliffs, attractive beaches, stunning views over the Emerald Coast and the Channel Islands, a seabird reserve, an historic lighthouse and a fortified castle straight out of a story book – the wild and windswept area around the Cap Fréhel peninsula has got plenty to interest.
Keen walkers can make their way to the Cap via the GR34 old customs officers' path from the resorts of Sables-d’Or-les-Pins or Pléhérel Plage in the west, taking in the green waters, rosy rocks – some as high as 230ft (70m) – and scenic coves like Les Grèves-d’En Bas, a mecca for windsurfers, and La Fosse, popular with naturists. Otherwise, visitors will find a paying car park about 400m from the tip of the peninsula.
On foot is also the ideal way to explore the protected moorland, which covers 1.5 square miles between Sables-d’Or and the Bay of la Fresnaye, whose colourful heather and gorse attract many artists as well as scientists and amateur naturalists fascinated by the richness of its vegetation and animal life. Don't forget your binoculars – this area is an important nesting site for about 700 pairs of native and migratory seabirds, which settle in the rocks and on the little islands off the coast. Watch the fulmar petrels soar and dive and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spy some razorbills.
An historic lighthouse
At the head of the Cap are two lighthouses. The taller one, 98ft (30m) high, with a calorie-burning 145 steps, was built in 1950 and its beam can reach up to 68 miles (110km). The smaller one, no longer in use, was constructed in 1685 by the renowned architect-engineer Simon Garangeau who worked for Vauban, the legendary military engineer of Louis XIV, who fortified many strategic points around the French coast.
A fairytale fort
East of Cap Fréhel, standing 196ft (60m) on a rock above the sea, is the imposing edifice of Fort La Latte. Built in the 14th century, the castle was fortified in the 17th century. Crossing the drawbridge and exploring the crenellations, turrets and dungeons is a must.
Did you know?
Fort La Latte featured in the 1957 film The Vikings starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.
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