The best time to come to Pénestin is in summer to make good use of its long, sandy beaches and smaller coves. The longest beach is west facing Mine d’Or whose cliffs turn a stunning gold as the sun goes down; they are protected for their geological importance. As well as being popular with families since it’s supervised in summer, Mine d’Or is a magnet for paragliders – book a tandem trip with a qualified glider from the Association les Ailes d’Or.
Along a large section of the north coast you’ll see stakes sticking out of the sea at low tide – it’s on these that the mussels are grown; they are renowned thanks to the quality of the water in the River Vilaine estuary. You can find out about the industry at the Maison de Myticulture, which is housed in a former lighthouse in the fishing port of Tréhiguier. The Association Mer et Nature organises tours around the mussel beds for French speakers.
On the move
If you’re short on time or energy, drive around the coastal road stopping off to admire the views from the Pointe de Bile and the Pointe de Loscolo. Active sorts will enjoy walking or cycling along the GR34 old customs officers’ path, which follows the coast for 9 miles (15km), or galloping along the beach on horseback with one of the local riding schools. In the far south, the bay of Pont Mahé attracts windsurfers from far and wide.
Inland, the village of Camoël is a good place for walks through the forest or along the river to La Roche-Bernard. Along the way you’ll encounter manor houses, mills and chapels; take supplies and stop at one of the designated picnic spots. Hire an electric boat or kayak at Arzal, where there’s a dam, to continue your ascent by water; organised boat tours also leave from here.