Finistere and Brittany mountains
The Monts d’Arrée hills are like Finistère’s spine, a little contorted to be sure, like most things in Brittany. Climb their back and the views from up top are tremendous, as only bracken and heather grow on the spiky vertebrae. As to the Montagne Saint Michel, a fully Breton St Michael’s mount, it stands apart.
Montagne Saint Michel
The Montagne Saint Michel nearby may be a little shorter, at 380 metres, but it has the most character of all; an extraordinary rounded hill topped by a teat of a chapel battered almost ceaselessly by the winds on this exposed height since it went up in the XVIIth century. There’s nothing inside the chapel, but the 360-degree views are incredible. The landscapes around the skirts of the hill can look eerie, as they’re so barren, but the trails crisscrossing the terrain are tempting for walkers and riders. Out east lies the Saint Michel reservoir, with a disused nuclear power station beside it. Here too is the more ancient, scary marsh of Yeun-Elez, said by legend to be a boggy entrance to hell; such Breton stories recalled at the quirky Expo du Youdig.
Natural National Park of Armorique
The Monts d’Arrée stand in the Parc d’Armorique, so the landscapes and communities here are now well protected. Charming museums highlight local themes and unspoilt villages with beautiful churches and calvaries are scattered across the slopes to north and south. To learn about Brittany’s traditional animal life, visit the Domaine de Ménez Meur, with those Breton icons, the carthorse and the wild boar, among the creatures to be seen.