The port and its boats, the wooded headland of Guilben, Beauport Abbey, oysters at Kerarzic... The GR®34 coastal path is a voyage of discovery for the senses. The coastal pathway allows you to experience the myriad charms of the bay of Paimpol. A spectacular experience, changing at the whim of the tides.
The Port of Paimpol
Looking for the famous cliffs celebrated by the singer Théodore Botrel, I walk through the port, the Kernoa quay, leaving the proud multicoloured shellfishing boats on my left. I’m heading for the jetty, where Paimpol plunges into the sea. But, looking port and starboard, I still can’t see any cliffs.
I thought I knew Paimpol pretty well, but obviously not!
Concentrating on horizon, my eyes are drawn to a pine wood that juts out into the sea. A landscape with an air of the South which bears the name Pointe de Guilben. It’s indicated on a sign at the entrance to the GR®34 coastal path. Let’s go and have a closer look.
From the Pointe de Guilben to Beauport Abbey
The customs officers’ footpath follows the coast. The falling tide reveals a growing shoreline where seabirds share the space with shellfish gatherers - rake or shrimp net in hand.
A holiday atmosphere at Tossen Beach
The GR®34 coastal path soon overlooks a little beach with a huge seawater swimming pool. It’s an ideal place to stop off with the family, especially as the beach is supervised. It’s a bit early for me, but I’ll definitely be going for a dip on the way back.
The path winds its way towards Guilben, with some welcome shade in the woods. The view emerges gradually, and we can make out the little fishing port of Pors Even, Ploubazlanec, l’île Saint-Riom and the oyster beds.
The cliffs at Plouézec
Guilben is a rocky headland that advances proudly into the bay, dividing it in two. At the very end, the path veers south and a new landscape opens up. And there, on the horizon, are the cliffs promised by Botrel! They’re in the neighbouring commune of Plouézec. A little too far for today’s walk.
L’anse de Poulafret
The Goëlo coast is certainly not lacking in charm, but Paimpol still has some more treasures to show us. The GR®34 coastal path continues, going through l’anse de Poulafret with its leisure and swimming areas. There’s even a little lake where children can learn to sail.
The perfect place for a picnic, overlooking the sea.
A lovely spot to daydream for a while, before continuing the walk. I can see Beauport Abbey, built at the beginning of the 13th century, and now classed as a Historical Monument. One of the treasures of local heritage, and not to be missed.
A visit to Beauport Abbey
A visit to Paimpol without stopping off at Beauport maritime abbey is simply out of the question. The site, which is owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral, is a marvel. The various 13th century buildings are structured around the cloister, following a design used by the majority of abbeys of the time.
This layout is still visible today. The Salle des Hôtes (guest hall), the Salle au Duc (Duke’s hall), the Salle Capitulaire (Chapter House) and the cellars offer some fine examples of Gothic architecture. The abbey takes pride of place in a protected natural setting of around 60 hectares with its own ecosysterms, a marshland area and wooded hillsides, all of special interest to the visitor.
The oyster bar on the presqu’île de Kerarzic
From one of the Abbey windows, a distant point draws my eye. I’m told that it’s the presqu’île de Kerarzic. The Arin oyster farm has been there for four generations. They opened an oyster bar a few years ago.
It’s the perfect spot to sample seafood and shellfish at the water’s edge, with a stunning view of the bay. It’ll soon be time for a snack, so I let myself be tempted by a taste of the sea.
It’s a delightful experience. I’m enjoying my half-dozen oysters as the crew comes back after having turned the oyster bags in the beds. The tide is coming in, it’s time for me to head home.
Back to Paimpol
To get back to the port quickly, avoiding a return journey via the pointe du Guilben, you can take the rue de Kerlegan, Kernoa and du Four à chaux. Returning via the same route as the outward journey enables you to discover a different landscape - the bay at high tide. And of course, the possibility of a swim in the plage de Tossen seawater swimming pool...
Text by Fanch Le Pivert - Publihebdos