BENODET and the banks of the Odet
Benodet, at the mouth of the Odet estuary, is one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in south Finistere. It has a conference centre, a marina and three corniche roads, the Corniche de la Mer, the Corniche de la Plage and the Corniche del'Estuaire, which give views of the sea, beach and estuary respectively. Your enjoyment will be enhanced here by the large, sandy beach edged with wooded dunes. Don't forget to try your luck at the casino, the focus of much of the nightlife.
The calm beauty of the Odet
The Odet is actually a landlocked ria (sea inlet) which the se invaded several thousand years ago, following the folding of the granite landmass. Its steep banks are topped with opulent manor houses and chateaux set in thick woods. Because the Odet is heavily tidal, it is used by overwintering wading birds, such as woodcock, redshanks, curlews and ducks. It is one of the few spots on the coast where the rare estuary horseradish grows. This is a plant that is partly terrestrial and partly aquatic and is now protected. Cruises up the Odet are organised daily in season. They leave from the old port of Benodet between May and September. For more information contact Vedettes de l'Odet which organises two to five sailings a day. The round trip lasts for about 2.25 hours. It is also possible to rent a former sailing barge - which was once used for carrying sand - with its crew from the Gouelia Company. You can also make the trip on foot on the Benodet bank, but you should wear sturdy hiking shoes and carry the guide that is available from the tourist office. It is more than 9 miles along the coastal paths.
The White Sea - this huge lagoon is separated from the ocean by a 2.5 mile sandbar, on which nothing grows but a few tufts of marram grass. It stretches from the Pointe de Benodet to Pointe de Mousterlin, and there is nothing else like it in Brittany. The little hamlet of Letty has a water-sports centre. There is a telescope and a map of the area at the Pointe Saint-Gilles, the entry to the lagoon.
Sainte-Marine - Sainte-Marine is an important harbour for pleasurecraft on the other side of the estuary. Since 1970 it has been reached by the Pont de Cornouaille, a bridge 2,000 feet long, suspended 230 feet in the air. The harbour contains a number of floating pontoons with moorings for yachts and sailing dinghies of all kinds. The neighbouring fishing harbour offers opportunities for a few moments of pleasant relaxation at one of the quayside cafes. There is also an attractive little chapel and a beautifully restored “sailor's rest”.
FOUESNANT AND DISTRICT - cider-making, fishing ports and sandy beaches
Deep in the heart of the woods and meadows, there lies a sandy beach. Fouesnant is sheltered from wind and storms and is a haven of peace and quiet, combining the pleasures of the coast with those of the countryside, the sea and the land. The town is the cider-making capital of the area and is famous for the traditional headdresses, which are the most elaborate in Brittany. Fouesnant has long been an important tourist centre, but it now has a food-processing industry and has kept a population of about 150 fishermen, who unload their catch in one of three small local ports.
QUIMPER - a city with a strong personality
Quimper is the obvious choice as the historic and economic capital of the part of Brittany known as Cornouaille. It lies at the confluence of the rivers Steir and Odet, which run through the town that is the administrative capital of Finistere. It has a handsome cathedral and narrow lanes, with perfectly preserved half-timbered houses. But it is not merely a repository of history. It has many high-tech industries and an important food-processing industry, and is known for its local pottery, which continues to delight visitors.