Welcome back ,Camaret-sur-Mer!

And get us closer to the ocean and the cliff at the point of Finistére dept 29 in my Brittany. This was an adventure to find the confines of Brittany on the road warrior that we are.

So welcome back to Camaret-sur-Mer, an idyllic place worth to live there after retirement and just do nothing but admire the natural beauty of the place; away from it all in peace. Poetic thoughts but endurables. This is a long post, sorry, I think is worth it.

A bit of description of the place.

Camaret-sur-Mer is located 80 km from Brest and 65 km from Quimper and is located in the far west of the peninsula of Crozon. It is 169 km from my house! Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, more precisely the sea of Iroise, at the entrance to the gully of Brest. Camaret, half of which is made up of protected natural areas, is part of the regional Natural Park of Armorique and is now located in the heart of the marine Nature Park of Iroise. It’s a quiet seaside resort.

The coastline is very curvy, we have in the northeast, the Bay of Camaret with the advance of the pointe Sainte-Barbe follows the peninsula of Roscanvel; to the west, the tip of the Grand Gouin beyond the Corréjou beach; Further west again, beyond the beach of Porzh Naye, the tip of the Toulinguet; To the southwest, the cove of Pen Hat extended by the Pointe de Pen-Hir and the Tas des Pois, then by the beach of Veryac’h; To the south, the Pointe de la Tavelle and the Pointe de Portzen extended by the Anse de Dinan, which empties into the Kerloc’h Brook which separates the town of Camaret from that of Crozon. Further south, but located in the territory of the town of Crozon are the Pointe de Dinan and the Cap de la Chévre(goat).

Advancing towards the Pointe de Pen-Hir and the Tas des Pois, we encounter a succession of cliffs all as impressive as each other by their huge chunks of rocks that fall in peak into the ocean.  One arrives at the imposing promontory supporting the immense Cross of Lorraine in blue granite, inaugurated by General de Gaulle  in 1951, the scenery is grandiose. A natural cliff-side platform, called the Salle Verte (green room), is covered with marine turf. But you have to be very careful because the inclined and fast plane that drives it is very dangerous. Below is the beach of Véryac’h, which means limestone or maerl sand beach. It draws a semi-circle that ends right by the Tas des Pois and left by a succession of cliffs with brown and yellow tones.

camaret

You have several beaches such as Corréjou Beach, Pen-Hat beach, Veryac’h Beach, Lam Saoz Beach, Kerloc’h Beach, Trez-Rouz beach, Notinau Beach (very nice). On the West Coast, you have several nice points or lookouts such as the pointe du Grand Gouin, pointe du Toulinguet, pointe de Pen-Hir, pointe de la Tavelle, and pointe de Portzen. On the West Coast you have pointe Sainte-Barbe, and pointe du Pouldu. These points delimit the bottoms in softer rocks such as the Anse de Porzh Naye and Anse de Pen Hat in the phyllite of Dournanez in the heart of the Mort Anglaise (English-death)  anticline of -the Toulinguet (affected by the slip of the Kerforne fault), and  Anse de Camaret in the schist.

A bit of history I like

For Camaret, the Roman surveillance camp was located at the site of the present village of Kerloc’h, between the marshes of Crozon and the Pointe de Dinan. Then it was the fall of the Roman Empire and the freedoms found. The Armorique, delineated geographically by the Atlantic Ocean and the monts d’Arrée, incorporates a new political system and takes the name of Cornouaille.  The young Lord Riok, Crown Prince of the Elorn, converted to the new Christian faith. The history of Camaret is linked to the legend of Saint Riok. In the 4C, an authentic Saint lived in Camaret as a hermit, removed in one of the many caves of the Pointe du Toulinguet. He was the patron of the Church of Camaret, but his name never appeared on the list of Roman canonization. After the Council of Trent, he had to officially give up his place to a recognized Saint: Saint Rémy. On the death of his mother, Riok leaves the Leon region , and comes to the end of the world to seek refuge in a cave. He lived a few years in this religious monastery. Since his death, God has done so many miracles to his tomb that Saint Budoc, third Archbishop of Dol, Metropolitan of Armorique Brittany by having been duly informed, declared him Holy, about the year 633AD.

One of Camaret’s main activities at that time was the flour milling. There were different kinds of windmills: windmills and water mills. In the 12C there are two types of mills: Water mills and windmills at tides. They were often associated with a fishery. Camaret develops both as a fishing and trading port, but also, at the end of the Middle Ages, serves as a port of call for coasters of the French coastline and for the long hauls that rise from Spain and Portugal.

Vauban took care of the defence of the Anse de Camaret, which commands the entrance to the gully of Brest, having the Vauban tower built on the furrows of Camaret, and batteries in the vicinity at the Grand Gouin, at Pointe Sainte-Barbe ( renamed  Mort Anglaise or English death thereafter), at the tip of the Toulinguet, in Kerbonn and all along the Roscanvel Peninsula.

During the Hundred Years ‘ War, which brought England and France to battles in the 13-14C, an English squadron came to the port of Camaret for a truce, the Duchess Jeanne de Navarre, widow of the Duke of Brittany, Jean IV de Montfort. On January 13, 1403, she embarked for England to marry King Henry IV of Lancaster, and thus became sovereign of the United Kingdom. The Bretons and the court of France saw a betrayal there. In 1404, an English fleet attempted to attack Camaret on the beach of Trez-Rouz. The Camarétois, with their leader Olivier de Clisson, second constable of France, and more than 700 soldiers, engaged the fight. The enemy would have prevail, when the young Duke of Brittany, Jean V, then 15 years of age, appeared accompanied by 2 500 soldiers. The British were repelled to the sea and Camaret as well as Brittany were saved. In 1434, a new landing was attempted by the British fleet. The third constable of France, the Earl of Richemont (son of Jean IV de Montfort and of Jeanne de Navarre), who later became Duke Artur III of Brittany fought the assailant with his army of knights, supported by the local people. Once again, Brittany was saved thanks to Camaret.

In August 1801, American engineer Robert Fulton experimented with his propeller submarine, the Nautilus, in Camaret Bay to convince Napoleon Bonaparte of the future of underwater navigation. The Nautilus tried to place a mine on an English ship, then in the Camaret Harbor. The test might have been conclusive, if the frigate had accidentally sailed at the time the submarine was slowly approaching the vessel!

Camaret was, like other fishing ports of the Atlantic coast, from the 17C to the 19C a sardine port. The sardine fishery was at the heart of the economic life of the town of Camaret until the great Crisis of 1903-1904. The port of Camaret, located at the front of the gully of Brest , was also a release port and shelter for other town’s fishermen or commercial boats. In 1898, we discovered the plateau of Rochebonne, off the Vendée. The Camarétois sailors embark on the adventure by creating a new type of boat capable of facing the more difficult seas. This will be the birth of the bridged sloops, built especially in the Kéraudren shipyards. In 1960, Camaret went on the  yearly call of Mauritanian with  considerable catches; it is then the first European port for lobster fishing. Starting from 1963, the lobster fishery begins along the Brazilian coast, resulting in a diplomatic crisis between France and Brazil (the “War of the Lobster”),which caused the extention of its territorial waters to 200 nautical miles to protect its fishermen. At the end of the 1960’s, lobster fishing began a slow decline, due in particular to the various fishing bans in their exclusive economic zones decided by the governments having authority (Morocco, Mauritania), and then collapsed completely by the end of the 1980’s. The peninsula of Crozon has been, from the 19C to the middle of the 20C, the region of the know-how of shipbuilding. From these shipyards, it came out of magnificent boats, some of which still continue fishing, and others, rebuilt in the same way, roam the maritime festivals. Since 1867, Camaret has a lifeguard boat rescue station from the SNSM (=société nationale de sauvetage en mer) or National Marine Rescue Company. Three marinas have been set up such as Styvel, Notic, and Vauban, all with 750 places of which 450 places afloat on pontoons.

Starting in the decade of the 1880’s, Camaret gradually became a popular resort for a number of Parisian intellectuals and artists during the summer season, most of them frequenting the two hotels of the port, the Hotel de la Marine, held by Nathalie Dorso, and the Hotel de France. Eugene Boudin was the first of them, soon followed by Charles Cottt, Gustave Toudouze, André Antoine (founder of the Théâtre Antoine, then director of the Odeon Theatre, who stayed for a time in the Vauban Tower), Maxime Maufra, Henri Rivière, Laurent Tailhade (from 1901), Saint-Pol-Roux, etc. Some even eventually built a house in front of the beach of Pen-Had like Saint-Pol-Roux (Le Manoir de Cœcilian) and Andre Antoine.

At the end of 1916, in order to combat German submarines, a seaplane base was installed in Camaret near the lifeguard boat place. The Poyer  entered service in January 5, 1917, the first seaplanes coming from the La Pallice, depending on the Brest aerospace Center, which also includes a base of airship located in Guipavas and a base of Captive balloons located in Brest-Laninon. This seaplane base was very active, with its 32 seaplane showing in 21 fights against German submarines. The monument to the dead of Camaret bears the names of 106 soldiers who died for France during WWI.  The Nazis built numerous blockhouses along the  coastline, within the framework of the Atlantic Wall, the most important being the Kerbonn battery located between the tip of Pen-Hir and the tip of the Toulinguet, now transformed into The Battle of the Atlantic Memorial Museum, but also at the tip of the Grand Gouin. 72 people from Camaret-sur-Mer died for France during WWII according to the list that carries the Monument to the Fallen located in the communal cemetery.

Things to see are many and even in two trips to the area we have not seen them all, will tell you about it.

In the midst of the war of the League of Augsburg,Vauban took care to arrange the defence of the Anse de Camaret which commands the entrance to the gully of Brest, by arranging according to his plans, in addition to the Vauban tower on the furrows of Camaret, batteries in the vicinity at Grand Gouin, at Pointe Sainte-Barbe , at the tip of the Toulinguet, in Kerbonn and all along the Roscanvel Peninsula.  It effectively repels the British and Dutch landing attempt at the Battle of Trez-Rouz. Since that date, the cliffs to the east of the furrows are called “the English death” or Mort Anglaise ,and the surrounding dunes were turned into a cemetery to bury the dead English and Dutch sailors. Vauban tower ( a must yes) on the harbor of Camaret has a coastal defence tower with a low battery built on a master plan of Vauban. It is locally named the tour Vauban. Vauban named it the tour Dorée or golden tower. This polygonal tower is defensively reduced with a ditch, a drawbridge and a perimeter wall. Projected from 1683, the tower is drawn in 1689 by Vauban. The construction starts in 1693 and ends in 1696. A road of victory webpage on the significance of the tour Vauban tower in English here: The roads of memory on the tour Vauban

camaret

Kerbonn’s battery, (a must yes) the site of Kerbonn lies between the tip of Penhir and the tip of the Toulinguet. It is part of the defence system of the gully of Brest. The first military fortifications on the site of Kerbonn are dated 1889-1891. The fort of Kerbonn is a coastal battery , whose role was to fight the ships in the Bay of Brest. Between 1942 and 1944, the Nazis built bunkers on the site. It consists mainly of 4 fire bunkers for canon of 164 mm French, 6 passive shelters, 1 firing station and 3 tanks for defence gun against Aircraft (DCA).  One of the Nazi bunkers is now home to the Battle of the Atlantic Memorial.

camaret

Toulinguet’s battery (to be seen) on the tip of the Toulinguet is located a second category semaphore lighthouse for the National Navy. The Grand Gouin battery is the most important coastal defence of the Crozon Peninsula. It consisted of four 220-mm batteries, each with four bunkers, as well as a fire tracker and several pieces against aircraft.

The Monument to the Bretons of Free France, known as the Croix de Pen-Hir is a memorial to the Bretons of Free France, inaugurated on July 15, 1951 by General de Gaulle. It is intended to bear witness to the sacrifice of free French Bretons, who notably founded Sao Breiz in Great Britain during WWII. It was built from 1949 to 1951. On the back of the Cross is an inscription in Breton: “Kentoc’h mervel eget em zaotra”, meaning “Rather death than defilement”, the currency of Bretagne attributed to Alain Barbetorte. On the west face of the Croix de Pen-Hir, at its foot, there is also the inscription “Free man, always will cherish you in the sea”, by Charles Baudelaire.

camaret

The megalithic alignment of Lagatjar  (nice to see) no longer include only 65 menhirs. We will have to wait 1928 for the Lagatjar alignment to be restored. The alignment of Lagatjar is made up of three rows of menhirs. The set draws a line oriented N -E and S-W, from where, at right angles, two parallel lines are left. This orientation suggests an astronomical character. The Lighthouse of Toulinguet on the Pointe de Toulinguet is located.

camaret

In 1903, Saint-Pol-Roux buys a fishing house overlooking the beach of Pen-Had and transforms it into an exotic manor with eight turrets, the Manoir de Boultous. On the death of his son Coecilian (killed near Verdun) in 1914, he renamed it “Manoir de Coecilian” (to be seen). During the inter-war period, he received many writers and artists.  In June 1940, the manor was invested by Nazi soldiers, his daughter Divine was raped and the mansion delivered to the looting and burned down. In August 1944, the manor was bombarded by Allied aviation. There are now only ruins.

The port of Camaret (yes nice to walk around) along the sea to reach the furrow, the Quai Toudouze, the main wharf of the port, crosses the center of Camaret. Construction starts in 1842. It has a length of 350 meters and a width of 30 meters and has four cales. In 1895, it is enlarged. At the end of the last, it is the quay of the Styvel with its launch block built after 1926. On the parvis, a cemetery of fishing boats sheltered up to 10  often ceded for a symbolic euro to the town. Many of them have been removed due to their degradation and those who remain have had their hull pierced so that it does not float during high tides of whitewater. Opposite is the marina. In 1963, a new dike was built to house the pontoons reserved for yachting. After having borrowed the furrow that leads to the Vauban tower and the ND Chapel of Rocamadour, you can reach the harbor’s captaincy. We notice the mole with the Green Lighthouse at its end. The construction of the latter began in 1842 to end in 1857.

camaret

The Notre-Dame-de-Rocamadour chapel, (yes a must) located on the furrow, is very nice and a must to visit. Saint-Rémi’s  Church, (yes nice to see) consecrated in 1931, succeeds a smaller church of the 18C. Formerly named because of their form in Breton Pézeaux or pile of hay before being renamed in the middle of the 19C a Tas de Pois, these five rocks  offer an unforgettable panorama of the Pointe de Penhir  (a must to see) on the Sea of Iroise. The Pointe de Penhir is also an ornithological reserve.(yes very much a must and beautiful views of the sea if it can be windy at times).

 

camaret

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here in addition always to my previous posts on these wodnerful places are

City of Camaret-sur-Mer on heritage

Tourist office of Camaret-sur-Mer

Tourist office of Brittany on Camaret sur Mer

Tourist office of Finistere dept 29 on port of Camaret

The roads of memory site on concentration on Vauban fortifications in Camaret: Roads of Memory on Camaret sur Mer and Vauban

You are now loaded for an invasion of Camaret sur Mer in the Finistére Breton; great area full of life and the sea ,good for the soul anytime.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: