La vie en rose! The surreal Pink Granite Coast is as beautiful as it is rugged and must be one of France’s best kept secrets.
Miles of colourful, misshapen boulders, some up to 20m in height, are stacked on top of each other, often balanced at seemingly impossible angles.
Three hundred million years in the making, it is one of only three coastlines in the world made from pink granite – the others are in Corsica and China.
This stretch of northern Brittany is just a short hop across the English Channel, yet appears to remain mostly undiscovered by Brits.
There’s no guide book to speak of, little information online and we seldom came across more than a handful of our countrymen a day.
We were staying with Eurocamp at Le Ranolien holiday parc, just a stone’s throw from the start of the most scenic stretch of the coastal path.
Take the right hand path and a 20-minute clifftop stroll brings you to a wide, family-friendly beach – one of two in the bustling town of Perros-Guirec.
One of two wide beaches in Perros-Guirec, Pink Granite Coast, Brittany
Go left and you start to explore the mysterious Pink Granite Coast in all its glory, the like of which you’ve probably never seen before.
There are plenty of strange rock formations to look out for, including those that resemble a shoe, skull, rabbit, dragon, bottle, witch, mushroom and pile of pancakes.
One of the most sought-after is ‘Napoleon’s Hat’, which has a place in history.
On August 3, 1944 the BBC broadcast the cryptic message ‘‘Is Napoleon’s Hat still in Perros Guirec?’’ to warn the Breton Resistance that the second D-Day invasion had begun.
You can also have fun letting your imagination run wild.
We ‘spotted’ a squirrel and a Muppet’s head along the path, whilst elsewhere on the coast was a shark, a turtle and an elephant drinking from the sea!
A lighthouse, reached by a bridge, blends in perfectly after it was rebuilt in pink granite following its destruction during the Second World War.
The coastal path also offers views to the Seven Isles, which are home to France’s largest seabird colony – 27 different types including puffins.
One of the islands is called Bono, like the singer in U2, which amused me as the band once recorded an album called Live At Red Rocks.
After about 40 minutes, the coastal path brings you to the beautiful cove at Ploumanac’h, which in 2015 was awarded the title of France’s Prettiest Village.
A 12th century shrine on the beach marks the spot where the Welsh evangelist St Guirec first set foot in Brittany, and at high tide it’s surrounded by water.
With hydrangeas in abundance, the picture postcard look is completed by a Disney-esque mock medieval castle on an islet across from the cove.
It’s where the Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote Quo Vadis, the saga of Ancient Rome which won him a Nobel Prize.
From Ploumanac’h, it’s a 15 minute walk back to the holiday parc, passing an interesting sculpture park featuring abstract and figurative works in granite.
The granite boulders are also scattered across inland areas, and Le Ranolien is designed around – and takes advantage of – the geological features.
This is most evident at the fabulous pool complex where piles of rocks are used to support the two water slides as well as the staircase leading to the top.
And play equipment has been installed around, inside and above another jumble of rocks (which, by the way, also resemble an elephant).
In both cases, it so cleverly done you imagine the rocks aren’t real.
There are four outdoor pools of different depths plus a large hot tub in case you get chilly, although they were always mercifully warm during our August break.
There are also two covered pools and an indoor splash zone, making for very happy children whatever the weather.
Other family-friendly facilities include multi-sports pitches, table tennis courts, a games room, a cinema, a bouncy castle and kids’ clubs.
But when not at the pools we preferred to explore the stunning coastline some more.
Besides the beaches in Perros-Guirec and at Ploumanac’h, there are several Mediterranean-style ones at Tregestel, a 10-minute drive from Le Ranolien.
Gently shelving, almost wave-less and surprisingly warm, this is where my eight-year-old daughter got her first taste of ‘wild’ swimming.
There are islets to wade across to at low tide and plenty of granite features to explore, plus the remains of a 1960s shack built under a huge overhanging boulder.
Another fine beach can be found a little further down the coast on Ile-Grande, an island village connected to the mainland by road.
A memorial next to Pors Gelen reveals that Royal Navy officers secretly collected intelligence documents from the crescent beach during the Second World War.
On returning to La Renolien each evening we enjoyed dining alfresco, taking our pick from the two restaurants, the pizzeria or the takeaway.
There was always a family-friendly atmosphere and after clearing our plates Mum and Dad sipped wine while watching the children play.
And our choice of wine? Why, rose, of course.
Founded in 1973, Eurocamp is now the largest operator of premium outdoor holidays in Europe, with more than 180 parcs across 13 countries, in beachside, lakeside, countryside, mountainous and city locations. There is a multitude of accommodation options and you can arrive and depart any day of the week, with no minimum duration. Kids’ clubs cater for all ages. Adrian Caffery and family were guests of Eurocamp at Le Ranolien, Brittany, where all of the holiday homes have plenty of personal space, among the soaring trees and the granite boulders. His Espace self catering mobile home had a spacious central living area with French doors leading to a huge decking area with furniture and a canopy. There were three bedrooms – one double, one twin and one with bunk beds – plus a double sofa bed, full size fridge freezer, good-sized shower and a barbecue. The price for seven nights from April 11 in a two-bedroom Classic holiday home is £261 per party. For further info visit www.eurocamp.co.uk
Brittany Ferries’ Armorique operates on the Plymouth-Roscoff route
Le Ranolien is a 90-minute drive from the port of Roscoff. Brittany Ferries operates services there from Plymouth. Daytime sailings take six hours and an overnight crossing eight hours. The cruise-ferries offer comfortable cabins plus restaurants, shops and entertainment. April fares start from £340 return for a family of four and a car. Book online at brittany-ferries.co.uk or call 0330 159 7000.