French Sea Kayak Symposium

The French Sea Kayak Symposium is being held, in April 2018, on the north Brittany coast. close to Paimpol and Ile de Brehat, which is a superb kayaking area.  It follows the format, which many Symposium’s use, 3 days of workshops and an extended paddling programme for a further 4 days.
There are a number of experienced coaches from 6 European countries, who will be helping to deliver the sessions.  If you have only attended Symposiums in the UK, many may be unfamiliar names, but all are experienced and passionate about various aspects of sea kayaking.
Why not consider the French Sea Kayak Symposium in your paddling plans for 2018, you are guaranteed a friendly Breton welcome and some of the finest sea kayaking available anywhere.  There is further information on the kayaking opportunities around Ile de Brehat here.

There are a number of options available, which are inclusive of camping:
• Pack 1 – Symposium and paddling week: 250 €
• Pack 2 – Symposium: 130 €
• Pack 3 – Paddling Week: 120 €
• Pack 4 – Symposium + EPP Level 3: 330 €

EPP is the Euro Paddle Pass Level 3 ( which is equivalent to the British Canoeing 3 Star Award).

Bookings for the Symposium can be made here.

Symposium
The lighthouse is on the northern tip of Ile de Brehat. Anybody visiting this area should aim to circumnavigate the island.
French Symposium
Another classic French lighthouse. La Croix is to the south west of Ile de Brehat.
French Symposium
On the western side of Ile de Brehat is a restored tidal mill, which it is possible to paddle up to, towards high water.
French Symposium
To the south of Paimpol is L’Ost Pic.

Cote de Granit Rose

This post was one of the first that I wrote when setting up the original blog in 2010.  At that time we were managing to go sea kayaking in Brittany on a regular basis. In fact most months during the year we would travel to northern France and generally go paddling.  In recent years our kayaking interests have been in different geographical areas,  2108 sees a welcome return to this area though with a Sea Kayak Symposium being held near Paimpol in April next year.  As soon as booking details are known I will post them here.

This section of the Brittany coast has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in France, if not in northern Europe. It is well known from the tourist brochures and guide books and each year attracts significant numbers of visiting yachtsmen.
My favourite departure point is from Coz Pors at Tregastel, the paddling in either direction is memorable but last Saturday we decided to head east towards Ile Tome, an island of approximately 35 hectares whose spine runs north south. Situated off Perros Guirec, it has been uninhabited since the Second World War and the last few years have seen an active programme aimed to rid the island of rats to allow sea birds to breed, and so far it appears to have been successful.

Granit Rose
One of the distinctive features of this stretch of coastline are some spectacular coastal residences.
Granit Rose
First of all though it was important to pay a visit to the small harbour at Ploumanach, it is reckoned by many to be the finest anchorage on the north coast of Brittany. As the tide was high we were able to paddle over the sill, which keeps the water in at low tide, and approach the tidal mills, a feature of this area.
Granit Rose
Another feature of this area are lighthouses, of which a number were visible during the course of the paddle. One of my favourites is the Phare de Men Ruz, just to the east of Ploumanach. For those who are really interested in lighthouses it is possible to buy a re-usable shopping bag from Geant supermarkets complete with a photograph of the distinctive light.
Granit Rose
There are some significant tidal streams in the area and access to Ile Tome was only possible by ferry gliding across the ebbing tide. The waves were not too big and some strategically placed navigation marks allowed us to use transits to maintain our course. We wanted a lunch stop not to be swept west along the coast away from our intended destination.
Granit Rose
Lunch spot on the east coast of Ile Tome.
Granit Rose
Offshore Sept Iles were clearly visible but they were not for us today, our interest lay back along the coast at Tregastel in the shape of an ice cold beer.

Lighthouses of Brittany Part 2.

Following on from the post a couple of days ago here are a few photographs of Brittany lighthouses.  There are endless opportunities for viewing them from your sea kayak, and here are a few more.  They are mainly from the north coast of Brittany.  I might be biased but I think the lighthouses on the north coast generally look more dramatic than those to the south.
Sadly they are now all unmanned but when we started to visit these offshore buildings a number were still manned and it was always a pleasure to take out the daily papers and some fresh milk.  These small gestures often resulted in the offer of a hot drink and on a few occasions a guided tour of the lighthouse.  Sadly these days are long gone.
Situated in the Baie de Morlaix, Ile Noire lighthouse was built in 1845, with the keepers house added in 1879.  Paddling in this area is always enjoyable with numerous islands to explore.
La Croix.  Built in 1867 it is situated just to the south west of Ile de Brehat.  In common with some many lighthouses in this area the Germans blew the top of the light as they retreated.  It is always a welcome sight when paddling around Brehat.
Cap Frehel is the largest headland on the north Brittany coast and on clear nights I can see this light from near my house on Jersey.  It is open to visitors a certain times of the year.  The headland is spectacular when viewed from below in a sea kayak or whilst walking along the cliffs.
Sept Iles lighthouse is situated on Ile aux Moines,  part of a delightful archipelago to the north of Tregastel.  This was one of the last lighthouses in France to be manned by keepers.
The Port Navalo light marks to entrance to the Gulf du Morbihan.  This is one of the finest sea kayaking areas anywhere, a mixture of fast tidal streams and world class historic sites.  The lighthouse was built in 1892.

Lighthouses of Brittany

There is something special about Breton lighthouses , particularly when viewed from a sea kayak.  This is a selection of some that I have seen over the years.  Not all of the photographs are of the best quality as some were scanned from slides.  That said Breton lighthouses are amongst the most unique maritime buildings encountered anywhere and it is always a treat to visit them by sea kayak.
Le Heaux de Brehat.  To the west of Ile de Brehat on the north coast of Brittany it was built in 1840, although the top was blown off by the Germans in August 1944.  Located on an offshore reef, the sea kayak is an ideal way to access this light.  It is close to the end of the Sillon de Talbert
Ile Louet is situated in the Baie e Morlaix, near Roscoff on the north coast of Brittany.
25 nautical miles west of Corbiere is the Roches Douvres.  The light was finished being rebuilt in 1954 after it had been destroyed by the Germans 10 years before.  We raised the Jersey flag but the following morning it was a serious crossing of 25 miles in dense fog.  I have to admit that we felt pretty isolated the night we spent on the reef.
L’Ost Pic is located just to the south of Paimpol.  Built in the 1890’s I have to admit that the last time I landed there I ended up swimming.
Phare du Paon is situated on the north coast of Ile de Brehat, this is ome of the finest sea kayaking you could find anywhere.  It was originally built in 1860 but like so many lighthouses along this coast it was blown up by the Germans in1944.  It was rebuilt in 1949.
Another lighthouse blown up by the Germans, this light, Le Grand Jardin, marks the approaches to St Malo.  It was rebuilt in 1949.

A few more scanned slides

These are the last of the old photographs that I have been able to scan in for a while.  Some good memories of paddling in Jersey and further afield.
Derek Hairon on the Roche du Diable in southern Brittany, Easter 1983.  This was a time when canoes were not seen that frequently on white water in Europe.
Playing at Le Mourier Valley.  We used to build little dams to hold back the water and then release it so that it was possible to shoot down the concrete steps.  It was best to do it whilst it was still raining.  It has been quite a few years since we did this last, should be time for a return visit.
Self rescues off Greve de Lecq.  This was experimenting on a Senior Instructor Training course in about 1982.
Nicky off the southern tip of the Quiberon Peninsula in 1984.  We were crossing to Houat, a delightful island, for lunch.
Arriving in Carteret on the Normandy coast.  The 14th July 1989, we had gone over for the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.
On the Rance in France, in the early 1990’s.  It was one of those days when kayaking on the sea would have involved paddling from one sheltered location to the next, but in Brittany there are plenty of sheltered estuaries to head to.
Canoeing in the forests of northern Maine.  Great family holidays in the early 1990’s.
The girls may have enjoyed this part of the holiday more.  On the statue of Andre the seal in Rockport.  Andre just a great children’s book and film.  The tape version was played for hours on car journeys.

Ile de Brehat

It never fails to amaze me just what a superb sea kayaking destination Ile de Brehat is.  Just off the north coast of Brittany, close to the old Icelandic fishing port of Paimpol, Brehat is a real gem and has all the ingredients for a classic paddle.  Most guide books talk about the mild micro-climate, no doubt the result of the Gulf Stream but this Saturday took us all by surprise.  After what seemed like months of rain and wind we stood with baited breath looking down from the road as the archipelago stretched out before us.  Not a breath of wind stirred the surface but today the tidal co-efficient was 100 so there was plenty of water moving in this corner of Cote d’Armor.
Pointe L’Arcouest, the departure point for the vedettes to the island has a large car park but today it was largely empty, most people we knew were heading for the Alps for skiing holidays.  Alain Bouhee, a French paddler, as usual was already there and his kayak packed.  Christian Scalbert arrived shortly afterwards and then it was the usual race to get packed and head off.
For the first time in months waterproof jackets were left off as the sun beat down on our backs as we ferry glided across the main current.  Brehat is surrounded by a myriad of channels and small islets which create a complex navigational scenario.  Fail to concentrate on the chart and before you know it locating your position requires compass bearings.  It would be true to say that every time we paddle around the island we follow a slightly different path.  The joy of selecting your own route is one of the real pleasures of sea kayaking.
Phare du Paon marks the north east corner of the island, one of two lighthouses on the island, reflecting the level of hazard to shipping.  We decided to cross the main channel, to the west of the island and lunch on a reef close to Ile Morgat, we shared our beach with a wide cross section of birds.
As the tide started to flood we hitched a free ride back towards L’Arcouest via another lighthouse, La Croix.  With just a little bit of effort speeds in excess of 7 knots were easily attainable and so we were soon back at the departure point but as it was only just after low water there was a considerable carry up the beach.
Every paddle around Ile de Brehat is different but whatever the conditions it is always enjoyable.

Ile de Brehat
Around the island there are numerous navigation beacons, which make it an ideal venue for practicing sea kayak navigation.
Ile de Brehat
Looking into La Chambre, a popular anchorage for visiting craft, during the summer months the view from here would have been significantly different with numerous boats.
Ile de Brehat
Rachel off Men Joliguet, one of the larger cardinal marks off the south coast of the island. A working knowledge of buoyage is essential when paddling in this area as there are so many other water users, most of which don’t possess the flexibility of sea kayaks.
Ile de Brehat
Looking south from Ile ar Morbic at dawn. The reefs and channels create a complex but superb kayaking environment.
Ile de Brehat
The northern point of Ile de Brehat is marked by the Phare du Paon. In common with so many lighthouses along this stretch of coast it was blown up in August 1944 and the present one was built in 1952.
Ile de Brehat
La Croix is one of my favourite lights. It mark the eastern side of the channel which runs up the estuary of the Trieux, towards Lezardrieux.