Europe | France
June 9, 2009
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2000, Sunday May 14: Sainte Anne Plage, Brittany

Sainte Anne Plage, Finistere, France
France has its own Land's End: Pointe du Raz at the tip of Cornouaille, in Brittany's westernmost département of Finistère (itself literally "the end of land").

The affinity doesn't end there. Like its British namesake, Cornouaille is a profoundly rural region of cliffs and coves, moody moors and windblown heaths, peppered with granite villages that seem to have grown from the soil. Breton, like Cornish, is a Celtic language that fights to be heard above one of the world's transnational über-tongues. Like that of Cornwall, Finistère's countryside harbours muter reminders of its Celtic past too - in standing stones, burial chambers and stone-palisaded hill forts now half-strangled in gorse. But there are differences also: a foreign language - French, not Breton that is - and formidable food (although that gap is narrowing). The sun sometimes burns stronger as well - but this far west, don't count on it; squalls, fogs and gales brew just as readily on this side of the Channel as further north.

A few miles north along the coast from the Pointe du Raz, Sainte Anne Plage faces the Atlantic beyond the coastal waters of the Iroise. At its southern end is the family-run Hotel de la Plage, an unheralded but pedigreed Relais & Chateaux establishment that's not afraid of sandy feet and serves fresh seafood inches from the high tide mark. It's an all-time favourite of mine and a refuge when I need to recharge - this photo was taken from the cliff-top coast-path looking back to its beach.

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