Geology

Brittany’s colourful building blocks

Breton ancient rocks come in surprising colours, most sensationally on the Côte de Granit Rose (the Pink Granite Coast) and Côte d’Emeraude in the north, in the Crozon Peninsula cliffs out west, and on the island of Groix to the south. Granite is the stone most associated with the region, but other rock formations colour the picture, such as sandstone, schist and quartz.

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Naturally artistic rocks 

It’s not just the vivid pink and orange tints, derived from various minerals, that are spectacular along the Côtes d’Armor’s Pink Granite Coast, the elements have also carved the rocks here into fabulous shapes. Discover these hilarious geological formations from The Pile of Crêpes to Napoleon’s Hat, via the Upturned Foot,  between the Île de Bréhat and Trégastel. On Groix, one beach turns red from the local garnet that the tide turns to powder.

Cliff-edge dramas 

The cliffs and headlands that line up along the Breton coast like great natural defences offer fine lessons in the history of geology, no more so than on Finistère’s Presqu’île de Crozon. St-Hernot’s little Musée des Minéraux proves illuminating on the subject. Then go to admire the wonders of geology at places like the Château de Dinan – not a real castle, but rock formations that resemble one. The Cap Fréhel on Brittany’s north coast, and the cliffs of Belle-Ile to the south, offer further particularly dramatic geological examples.

Granite and other gritty rocks 

Granite – grainy, gritty, and, in sunshine, sparkling away – is the stone most associated with Brittany. Quartz seams occasionally crop up but the region is also constituted in large parts of sandstone and schist, which add their colourful tints. Although the latter stone may not sound attractive, across eastern Brittany, many places are given painterly touches by its varied hues.

Did you know ?

Beyond the Vilaine estuary, Pénestin’s Plage de la Mine d’Or (Gold Mine Beach) is backed by a rare cliff of hardened sand that glisters like gold in the evening sun.

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