We headed from Kerlouan to Pointe Saint Mathieu on a sunny and clear day so the destination was all that more spectacular and, when we arrived there, the view was so clear that we could see for miles. This dramatic and romantic point is located in a province called Finistere at the very Western end point of continental France, on a rocky point, with craggy coast all around, with its lighthouses and ruins of an old abbey and cathedral, and L’Iroise sea outside. Pointe St Mathieu is a significant landmark and one of the greatest places to visit in Brittany.
The Abbey of St. Mathieu
The abbey of St. Mathieu is about 1000 years old. It was built in 1000 AD and it was rebuilt into a church in 1200 AD. It was built close to the Atlantic Ocean and English Channel. The church was destroyed during the French Revolution. The ruins of the old Saint Mathieu abbey and church are really impressive and give a big contrast of modern and medieval building design.
There were 3 lighthouses built around the church. The smallest lighthouse was built in the 11th century. The lighthouse with round orange on the top was built in the early 19th century and is open for visitors. If you don’t mind the 163 steps, it is well worth the climb. The gray lighthouse, the newest and modern, was built in the 20th century. The modern lighthouse is the only lighthouse that is functioning at present as it has modern equipment such as radar. I heard that L’Iroise is one of the world’s busiest sea routes, but also hard to navigate. For that reason, there are a large number of lighthouses built all around.
The whole coastal area around Pointe Saint Mathieu provides a beautiful walking area and an ideal walk for nature lovers and for those who love to walk, with splendid views of the coast, the cliffs, and the lighthouse. The paths are well marked and safe, but provide some very moderate challenge of climbing up and down the hills. While we were walking, I saw many different types of wildflowers growing all around the cliffs and many different sea birds flying past.
The small museum
The museum provides historical information about the abbey and the church.
The cenotaph (National maritime memorial monument)
The national maritime memorial monument was dedicated to the sailors who died at sea during the different wars.
While we were in the area, we leisurely wandered around the place and I enjoyed the visit very much. I found the whole site more compact and very peculiar than I expected as it has something for everyone – lots of history (ancient and modern), culture, architecture, old buildings, nature, magnificent landscape, sea, hills, chilly wind, pleasant walk and some romance. I could imagine that it would be excellent to stroll in the evening or stand at the point and watch all the blinking lighthouses while listening to the waves in the dark. It is a geographically interesting place to visit and well worth the effort. Indeed, we had a beautiful seascapes and a relaxing break.
Little Lilly Travel Tip:
- The parking area is free.
- The access to most of the sites is free.
- The entrance fee to the museum and to go up to the lighthouse is very reasonable.
- Public toilet is just nearby the parking area.
- There is a hotel just nearby the parking area.