Looking for some great hiking and beautiful landscapes in northern France? Cap Fréhel, or Cape Frehel, is the place for you! With 2 lighthouses and a fort nearby, there’s plenty to do.
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Have you ever been to northern France, specifically Brittany? We traipsed around for a couple of weeks and stayed in some really cute boutique hotels and inns. We enjoyed eating mussels and oysters, trying out the famous galettes (savory crepes), and walking around some amazing places like the World War Two sites in Normandy and cities like St. Malo and Dinan, one of the most beautiful cities in France.
Along the way, we took a drive and a hike around the stunning Cape Frehel, a peninsula with rocky coastlines jutting out into the English Channel. Almost the entire coast of Brittany is lined with rugged cliffs high above the water. The waves are constantly working away at the cliffs, especially during high winds and storms. In many places, you can see how the underside of the cliffs has eroded, which not only adds to its beauty, but to its danger.
However, wherever there is an inlet or bay that is a bit protected from the harshness of the sea, the water is still, turquoise and very inviting. Vacationers, as well as locals, flock to the wide beaches for some fun in the sun.
In this article:
- The Two Lighthouses of Cape Frehel
- Hiking the Moorland
- How to Get There
- Fort La Latte
- France – Travel Tips
Cap Fréhel – A great day trip!
Cap Fréhel is an extremely popular destination, especially for local hikers, and we were far from the only visitors on the day we visited. We were there in July, which is the absolute best time to go since the wildflowers are in full bloom. Many visitors came and did the hike along the coast to Fort La Latte, then spent the rest of the day on one of the sandy white beaches near the cape.
The Two Lighthouses of Cap Fréhel
As you follow the signs into the lighthouse parking lot, you look up and realize that instead of just one lighthouse, there are two. The larger one is still in use, and the smaller one adds a bit of nostalgia and beauty to the landscape.
The first was built in the 14th century under King Louis the XIVth’s reign by a builder who worked for the famous fortress architect and military genius, Vauban (source). It was used for a few centuries before a newer, more modern one was built.
The new one was built in 1950, and it’s so powerful that it can be seen for over 50 kilometers, guiding boats away from dangerous waters. The newer lighthouse, for an entry price of 2 Euros, allows you to climb the stairs to the top for an amazing view of the surrounding area to include the stone city of St. Malo and the nearby Fort La Latte.
We went in July and the moorland landscape was stunningly covered in brilliant wildflowers that stole the show. The purple heather and the golden gorse were in full bloom, and we couldn’t stop taking photos of them or the stunning views.
Hiking the Moorland of Cape Frehel
A moorland is a habitat of low-growing plants on acidic soil. The ground here is unstable and therefore there are very few buildings on the Cap. This moorland has many plants, but it is primarily carpeted with a fuschia-hued heather along with some other brilliant flowers.
From the lighthouse parking lot, there are a number of walking paths that meander through the moorland and hug the coast. Even though we wandered for a couple of hours, admittedly we didn’t make much ground, because we took so many photos.
A little further along the route, there is a parking lot and a path to the fairytale Fort La Latte, also built in the 17th century. In case you were wondering, there is a little café and you certainly can get a latte! A beautiful day in nature, it was definitely one of our highlights as we explored Brittany.
Getting to Cape Frehel
Really the best way to get to Cap Fréhel is to drive. It’s a very simple and beautiful drive out of Dinan. Just take the D786. It will take about 50 minutes.
Distance to Cape Frehel from other places in Northern France:
- Fort La Latte – Driving 4.1 km/ 9 minutes – Walking 50 minutes from the Cap Fréhel lighthouse parking lot
- St. Malo – 41 km/ 1 hour
- Rennes – 114 km/ 1.5 hours
- Mont St. Michel – 89.5 km/ 1.5 hours
The drive was super easy, and we found parking at all the pullouts so that we could stop anywhere along the way to take photos. However, we did not go on a weekend so that may have made a huge difference. As it was, there were plenty of people on a weekday, so expect delays on the weekend. Along the route, there are brown signs indicating the direction of the two lighthouses.
The parking lot for the lighthouses was completely full, and we drove around a bit looking for a space, but don’t let that stop you. It’s well worth waiting for a spot.
Fort La Latte
Fort La Latte was built in the 1300s as a strategic point for protecting the Emerald coast from English invasions (source). This is a great place to wander and see all the fortifications of a French stronghold. Throughout history, the fort was besieged several times but never fell to an enemy.
For La Latte hosts a Medieval festival in August that is well worth going to as well.
If you are traveling around the north of France, perhaps making a visit to Mont St. Michel or St. Malo, don’t miss the stunning walk from Cap Fréhel to Fort La Latte. It’s a wonderful hike through the majestic moorland, and the views are well worth it.
France – Easy Planning Tips
Flying into France, you’ll probably at least start in Paris, so spend a couple of days here before you move on. Here’s a few Paris tours that will ensure you’ve ticked off the most important sites:
– Hop On Hop Off Tour Of Paris ($40)
If you like doing it on your own, you may want to save money with the Paris Pass (good for transport and sightseeing for 2-6 days).
Where to Stay? There are so many great hotels in France and we love using Booking.com for the ease of comparison and finding exactly what we want.
Some items you do not want to forget while packing for your France trip:
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.