It’s said that way back in Celtic times, the prominent point of the Cap d’Erquy was used as a lookout post along the coast. In fact, traces of a Celtic defensive encampment, or oppidum, have been unearthed. The 18th-century guards’ house and cannon oven recall bitter colonial wars and Revolutionary times – Republican guards here intercepted an expedition early in 1795 to smuggle plans through to anti-government forces.
Pretty in pink stone
Then came the tourist troops, trampling everything underfoot to enjoy to the full the natural drama of the spectacular views from this headland. Walkers are now herded along clearly marked tracks. Paths off the main GR34 coastal way lead down to some utterly beautiful, if remote beaches. The quarrying industry has left its scars on the western side of the headland; the purple-tinged stone here has long been highly prized across France, and extraction continues. Don’t miss the delightful village of Tu Es Roc, so pretty in its deep pink sandstone.
Twin charms of port and resort
The port of Erquy, with its wonderfully clear waters, is pressed compactly under the cape’s western cliffs. The fishing fleet is renowned for its scallop gathering in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc, although the practice is strictly limited to specific times in winter only. Virtually all the portside houses have been turned into enticing bars or boutiques. There’s also a Maison de la Mer, offering all manner of water sports.
The resort is relatively recent, but a core of pretty old houses stands around the purple-stone, central church. There are good fish shops nearby, a funky modern market place, and an exhibition space attached to the tourist office. On the hillside behind, the dramatic tall, thin chapel is of special significance to the Erquy fishing community.