Cross­ing Cro­zon

Carolyn Reynier goes on a house­hunt­ing cir­cuit of the Cro­zon penin­sula on Brit­tany’s At­lantic edge

French Property News - - Contents - presquil­immocro­zon.com im­mod­u­faou.fr cro­zon-tourisme.bzh

A tip-to-tip tour of one of Brit­tany’s best-loved penin­su­las

You need to get out your map of Brit­tany to fully ap­pre­ci­ate this des­ti­na­tion. Ready? We are off to western Fin­istère to tour the Cro­zon penin­sula – wild, au­then­tic Brit­tany at its best.

Across the wa­ter to the north lies the city of Brest and its rade, a deep, pro­tected bay. Across the wa­ter to the south is the har­bour town of Douarnenez, fa­mous for those omega 3-rich sar­dines. And all this lies within the western Ar­morique re­gional park.

One of the most spec­tac­u­lar sights in all of Brit­tany is at the south-western tip of this penin­sula. It’s the Pointe de Pen-hir where earth, wind and waves col­lide at a dra­matic sea cliff of­fer­ing breath­tak­ing views of Brit­tany’s At­lantic edge. The sea here is punc­tured by three enor­mous rocks – the Tas de Pois – which stand like a line of stone haystacks, tempt­ing even the most re­luc­tant pho­tog­ra­pher. On a clear day you can gaze out over the Mer d’iroise to a clus­ter of lit­tle is­lands, in­clud­ing Oues­sant and Molène, and be­yond them the At­lantic Ocean. To the north is the Pointe St-mathieu on the same penin­sula as Brest and to the south is the Pointe du Raz on the same penin­sula as Douarnenez.

Penin­sula play­ground

If you had been parachuted into the Presqu’île de Cro­zon, you would soon know you were in Celtic coun­try as the penin­sula is scat­tered with vil­lages and ham­lets be­gin­ning with Ker, the Bre­ton prefix for an in­hab­ited place. Walk along the mar­itime banks of the Aulne or the le­gendary long dis­tance GR34 coastal path. Ad­mire the views across to the domed sum­mit of Ménez-hom, the Monts d’ar­rée to the north and the Mon­tagnes Noires to the south.

This is a coast­line of beau­ti­ful beaches, just wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered by stand-up pad­dle board from the port of Mor­gat. Ex­plore the ver­dant creeks of the Cap de la Chèvre. Ad­mire Vauban’s Unesco-listed tower at Ca­maret-sur-mer, built to keep en­emy ves­sels at bay.

Rock climb­ing is an op­tion for the more rugged among you, and there are 200km of moun­tain bike cir­cuits through heather, wood­land, past stand­ing stones and churches.

Cro­zon-mor­gat

The nerve cen­tre of the penin­sula is the town of Cro­zon, which sits on a hill just above the south-west

coast. The old town­houses ( maisons de bourg) in the cen­tre of Cro­zon are of­ten ter­raced with lit­tle out­side space, but in the im­me­di­ate prox­im­ity, where most of the de­vel­op­ment has oc­curred, you find more spa­cious modern prop­er­ties dat­ing from the 1960s-1970s.

Head­ing down to­wards the coast you soon come to the lit­tle fish­ing port of Mor­gat, which is part of the same com­mune. De­vel­oped by the fa­mous Peu­geot family around 1900, it has grad­u­ally as­sumed its own iden­tity as a seaside re­sort, ex­plains Gwla­dys Sével­lec at the Agence de la Presqu’île. “It is a more im­por­tant his­toric at­trac­tion than Cro­zon,” she says.

The large early 20th-cen­tury seafront vil­las built by the Peu­geot family and friends at Mor­gat are part of its ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage and give this small seaside re­sort its par­tic­u­lar iden­tity. This is where you find the most ex­pen­sive penin­sula prop­erty and prices can eas­ily top €600,000. “It’s re­ally the villa par ex­cel­lence with all the ca­chet you’d ex­pect to find,” says Gwla­dys. A bit above your bud­get? Then what about a 41m2 apart­ment with sea view in a modern res­i­dence for €135,000?

Cap de la Chèvre

Be­yond Mor­gat the coast­line shoots south and you come to the Cap de la Chèvre, an al­lur­ing spot for hik­ers with its tow­er­ing rocky cliffs, beau­ti­ful coves, heather and mar­itime pines.

Vil­lage houses here may be small – these low-built tra­di­tional cot­tages are known as penty – but they are sought-af­ter for their au­then­tic­ity, par­tic­u­larly by for­eign buy­ers. Af­ter Mor­gat, they are the most ex­pen­sive per square me­tre.

Yes, there has been ur­ban de­vel­op­ment around the small fish­ing vil­lages, yet this head­land re­mains bless­edly pro­tected from large coastal res­i­den­tial blocks. The 1986 law, the Loi Lit­toral, pro­tects the coast­line, and the Con­ser­va­toire du Lit­toral also ac­quires parcels of land on the Cap de la Chèvre. “The ob­jec­tive is to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment to a max­i­mum,” says Gwla­dys. If you’re re­ally an­gling for an apart­ment you are bet­ter off look­ing in Cro­zon-mor­gat or Ca­maret-sur-mer.

Ca­maret-sur-mer

If you head back up this spur and con­tinue to the west­ern­most edge of the penin­sula, you come to the spec­tac­u­lar Pointe du Pen-hir and, just north of it, the small au­then­tic fish­ing port of Ca­maret­sur-mer. Fa­mous for its lob­sters, it was an im­por­tant re­li­gious cen­tre pos­si­bly as far back as 2,500BC. If you are a biker, you can get your Har­ley David­son blessed at the me­dieval chapel of Notre-damede-ro­ca­madour at the Par­don des Mo­tards Penn ar Bed cel­e­bra­tion in June.

As well as its Unesco-listed for­ti­fied Vauban tower, Ca­maret is also home to the La­gat­jar align­ments, a clus­ter of pre­his­toric stand­ing stones.

You’ll find old fish­er­men’s cot­tages in the his­toric vil­lage cen­tre, large and lovely 1970s prop­er­ties on the out­skirts (those lob­ster fish­er­men had pots of money), and fur­ther in­land tra­di­tional farm­steads. Ca­maret has its afi­cionadas, says Gwla­dys, and prices here can be more af­ford­able than Mor­gat.

Roscan­vel and Landéven­nec

Head­ing east out of Cameret, a north­ern spur takes us up to the Pointe des Es­pag­nols and Roscan­vel, over­look­ing the Rade de Brest. The com­mune is stretched out along the coast and you can of­ten find water­front prop­er­ties at in­ter­est­ing prices. Gwla­dys re­cently sold a 1970s villa – 127m2, grounds of 2,100m2, sea view – for about €300,000. There are also at­trac­tive ar­eas fur­ther east at Lan­véoc where there is an aero naval base, she adds.

Con­tin­u­ing east we reach Landéven­nec and St-guénolé abbey, a Bene­dic­tine monastery dat­ing back 15 cen­turies. Here, just to the north of the bridge onto the penin­sula, you turn your back on the ocean. The vil­lage lies at the mouth of the Aulne, the land­scape is wooded, more tran­quil and dif­fer­ent, says Gwla­dys. “It’s a re­ally in­ter­est­ing his­toric area to dis­cover,” she says. “It’s calm and peace­ful and a very nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.”

In win­ter, she adds, you can re­ally feel the sea breeze and smell the ocean when you’re close to the coast.

Ar­gol and Tel­gruc

If you would pre­fer an old farm­stead (ren­o­vated or not) head for the south en­trance to the penin­sula and have a look around Ar­gol and Tel­gruc-sur-mer. You can also find more con­tem­po­rary houses around here. Agri­cul­ture in days gone by was aus­tere be­cause the land, for ex­am­ple around the Cap de la Chèvre near Cro­zonMor­gat, was not very rich. “There was of­ten a com­ple­men­tary ac­tiv­ity of fish­ing and also har­vest­ing of kelp,” says Gwla­dys.

Earth, wind and waves col­lide at a dra­matic sea cliff of­fer­ing breath­tak­ing views of Brit­tany’s At­lantic edge

The poor diet pro­duced small peo­ple, so that may partly ex­plain why the tra­di­tional houses are so com­pact. The main ob­jec­tive was to pro­tect your­self from the wind so prop­er­ties on the Cap de la Chèvre and those very close to the ocean tend to be hid­den away. The land is bet­ter around Ar­gol and Tel­gruc where build­ings are larger, higher, more im­pos­ing.

Le Faou

If you are leaving the penin­sula by the north­ern en­trance you will cross the Aulne on the Térenez bridge, the first curved ca­blestayed bridge in France.

Just across the wa­ter, there is a lit­tle piece of land bor­dered by the River Aulne and the Cor­niche de Térénez to the west, and the main road to the east. I had a quick word with Geneviève Tan­guy at the Im­mo­bil­ière du Faou agency to find out about prop­erty here.

The lit­tle vil­lage of Le Faou, 20 min­utes from Brest, is clas­si­fied as a Petite Cité de Car­ac­tère thanks to its me­dieval her­itage. The houses here – half tim­bered, slate-roofed – and port are 16th cen­tury, she says, and there are lots of shops, with some 60 traders for just 1,700 in­hab­i­tants. There are no apart­ments here and nearly all the houses are main homes thanks to the free mo­tor­way and Le Faou’s

lo­ca­tion equidis­tant be­tween Brest, pré­fec­ture Quim­per to the south, and the Cro­zon penin­sula.

As well as vil­lage houses, you find more modern prop­er­ties on the out­skirts while the sur­round­ing coun­try­side at Han­vec, Ros­noën and Quimerch has many ren­o­vated for­mer farm­steads. The av­er­age house price is around €200,000, or around half that for a ren­o­va­tion project. Geneviève ex­plains that it is the prop­erty’s ca­chet rather than size which de­ter­mines the price. “Re­ally lovely prop­er­ties with a sea view will be around €350,000; with­out a sea view around €300,000,” she says.

The sec­tor is un­du­lat­ing with­out the large flat fields that you find in north­ern Fin­istère, and the land is not very fer­tile, so agri­cul­ture in the past was mixed. Leisure ac­tiv­i­ties to­day in­clude great walk­ing, river fish­ing, the sea, and horse rid­ing. “We’re lucky to live here,” says Geneviève.

The best ferry port for the Cro­zon penin­sula is Roscoff, which has ser­vices to Ply­mouth. Don’t for­get to pick up your string of Roscoff onions en route. Once at your penin­sula prop­erty, stock up on the lo­cal oys­ters, bis­cuits, cider and honey at one of the mar­kets. And when the call of the city is louder than that of the wild, Brest and Quim­per are nearby.

So wel­come to this lit­tle Bre­ton penin­su­lar par­adise. “Re­spirez, vous êtes en Presqu’île de Cro­zon - Aulne Mar­itime!” ad­vises the penin­sula web­site slo­gan. So re­lax and breathe it all in. You have ar­rived on the Cro­zon penin­sula where the Aulne meets the sea.

This is as busy as it gets on some of the penin­sula beaches!

Walk­ing at St-her­not Point on the Cap de la Chèvre

Boats in the Brest in­ter­na­tional mar­itime fes­ti­val off the Tas de Pois at Pointe de Pen-hir

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