This guide to the Cote d’Emeraude covers the stretch of the Emerald Coast beyond Dinard to the west of St-Malo.
Here a region of small resorts and sandy beaches tucked between estuaries lead on to the wilder and more remote peninsula at Cap Frehel.
It pays to have a car when exploring this stretch of the coast, as a day can easily be enjoyed meandering along sampling the towns, beaches and views.
The railway line runs further inland and there are connecting bus services to some of the more popular coastal towns from stations such as Plancoet and Lamballe. A summer bus service runs excursions from St-Malo out to Cap Frehal.
Named after a Breton saint who established the settlement in the 6th century, St-Lunaire was turned into a wealthy resort in the late 19th century by a Haitian, Scylla Laraque.
Already fashionable with artists, the composer Debussy composed “La Mer” here at the start of the 20th century. There are several small sheltered beaches to the east and the larger more exposed Plage de Longchamp which is popular with water sports enthusiasts
St-Briac nestles on the western side of the Fremur Estuary on which the town’s pretty beaches are set. Holiday villas dominate the surrounding area and the resort attracted such popular 19th century painters as Renoir and Signac.
Located on a narrow peninsular some 16 km from St-Malo, St-Jacut is another attractive 19th century seaside resort. It was founded by the Irish monk, St-Jacut, who established an important abbey in the area although little remains today. Vast expanses of sand make a good place to collect shellfish at low tide.
14 km further west from St-Jacut, St-Cast is a pleasant town set on the next peninsular with the wide mouth of the River Arguenon just beyond. There are 7 beaches that range from small rural coves to the main stretch at La Garde with over 2 km of sand. The town boasts a marina and good selection of restaurants while the surrounding headland provides an opportunity to take the air.
Fort la Latte
A few kilometres east of Cap Frehal’s tip and around 35 km from St-Malo, Fort la Latte is one of the most dramatic castles on the coastline of Brittany. It has a magnificently isolated position on a rocky promontory almost completely surrounded by sea. The location makes for an ideal film set with several being shot here over the years of which The Vikings, in 1957, is the most well known. Open all year round but restricted to weekend and school holiday afternoons in winter.
The splendid headland of Cap Frehel is a very popular place to visit with its striking cliffs and wild moorland. The lighthouses can be visited in the summer months with a glimpse of Jersey the reward on a clear day.
Walkers descend in their droves to the peninsular which is virtually free of human habitation and the views from the 70 m high cliffs are exhilarating. Cap Frehel is a protected area and there is a wealth of bird life nesting in the cliffs and small islands just offshore. To get the low-down alternative view, try a boat trip from St-Malo.