Published on August 15th, 2014 | by Rebekka Laird0
Pléneuf Val-André, a small but enchanting seaside resort town
Pléneuf Val-André, a small but enchanting seaside resort town, is a breath of fresh air from the usual work grind. Just two and a half hours away from Paris by train (or five if you’re like me and choose to take the thriftier co-voiturage), this Brittany beauty is not to be missed. The Val-André beach is two and a half kilometers long, and not as busy as many other European summer destinations. Whether on the long coastal promenade spending time at the resorts and casino, playing a few rounds of golf, or enjoying nature at its finest, there’s something for the whole family in this quiet and welcoming ville.
One of the main attractions of the area is undoubtedly the Casino du Val-André, open every day of the year and features over sixty slot machines, Black Jack tables, Jeu de Boule and Texas Hold ’em. It is described as “very American” and similar to Las Vegas, but don’t let that discourage you, there are other options for entertainment nearby. Attached to the building is a large auditorium that serves as both theatre for live shows, concerts, and cinema during weekends.
I’m told that the one of the most relevant sports in town is sailing-all the kids that grow up in the area have sailing lessons, whether it be on catamarans, dinghies, or wind surfing. You can take lessons in all of the above, or rent equipment if you’re already prepared. If you’re looking for a more passive way of getting off land, there are numerous boat ride and fishing opportunities organized through the office of tourism. The most recognizable of these tours is on La Pauline. This red-sailed vessel first set sail in 1901, and now offers half or full day tours onboard.
Water not your forte? Tennis is also a favorite pastime of these Bretons (pléneuviens in French). Within the resort is the Parc de l’Amirauté, offering 8 clay courts and 4 synthetic ones. Here, there is an annual international tournament hosted by the Amirauté Tennis Club. There is also a gorgeous golf course, Blue Green, overlooking the scenic Des Vallées Beach for all levels. U.S. Golf Magazine and the Peugeot Guide call it one of the best golf courses in Europe. Another relaxing option is horseback riding, with lessons for all levels and ages or guided treks on the beach or countryside. The town’s tourism website also advertises yoga, tennis, swimming, and water-based activities for children during the summer.
My favorite aspect of Pléneuf Val-André is taking in the scenic views from paths along the English Channel. Chemin des Douaniers, translated to path of the frontier guards, goes quite high from one side of the port along the sea and ends at the other side of the beach. It’s narrow but easy for the inexperienced hiker, and very private. You may see a few runners here and there, but there is nothing better than taking a seat and enjoying the view.
The Verdelet Islet is visible from many spots in Pléneuf, and is a well-known landmark of the coastal area. Since 1973 it has served as a nature reserve for many species of sea-bird and other animals. It is only accessible during low tide, so plan accordingly! If the tide is high and you have a bit of time to explore, investigate the Ville Beneuf Dunes, one of the few dune areas in the bay that is virtually undisturbed. The biodiversity is astounding, that is, if you are into that sort of thing!
Don’t skip the many foods, both sweet and savory, that are distinct to the area. Moules frites, one of my personal favorites, are exactly what they sound like, steamed mussels and French fries. You can pick your sauce of marinières, gorgonzola, curry, or à l’italienne at La Villa at. 19 Rue Amiral Charner. For something a bit different, head to Les Régates 52 Rue Charles de Gannes for a crepe, but I recommend a galette complète, with cheese, ham, and egg. Cider is an obvious paring, but Brittany also has its own cola, Breizh, comparable to Coca Cola. As a culinary souvenir, you can’t beat a box of salted butter caramels from Les Sucettes, (1 Chemin Romain) right around the corner from the Casino and Office of Tourism.
I recommend visting Pléneuf for at least a weekend, for this is not a place you can visit in just a day. Once you’re there, notice how things slow down a bit and take some time to relax. This is an oasis from a hurried world of chaos, and nothing like most beaches I’ve seen before.