The Pink Granite Coast in Brittany on the north coast of France isn’t real. Or rather, it doesn’t look real. It looks like the set of a bad fantasy film; all the rocks look like they’ve been crafted out of plasticine and then painted. I looked at it and I thought I was in someone else’s Warhammer set. I was expecting a horde of rat people with slingshots and knives come swarming over the hill, or a goblin warlord brandishing the head of an enemy to march across the terrain to murder me.
I was incredibly geeky as a 15-year-old, can you tell? But god damn, look at the quality of that paint work!
Anyway, we’re at the Pink Granite coast in Brittany and although it looks unreal, it is in fact 100% natural.
I was there with an English mum, Trish, her three kids, and a French boy staying with us for a week. We’d put the bikes in the back, belted the kids in the middle and me and Trish, henceforth to be known as Mum, took the front. Mum drove and I’d been chief navigator and in charge of the map even though I’d only been here in Brittany four days. I had also been in charge of the flask of tea and the packet of biscuits the kids didn’t know we had. We didn’t share a single one of them.
We stopped off a few places on the way because, while a 2-hour car ride is fine for any adult without bladder problems, most kids’ spirits haven’t yet been worn down by the harsh realities of the world, so we had to do entertaining detours, to a supermarket (turns out kids can get great joy out of all those aisles of commonplace consumables) and to a stretch of beach more dull than your grandparents’ conversation at Christmas dinner.
We didn’t stay there too long, just long enough for the kids to get bored looking for crabs, then we made our way to the Pink Granite Coast proper, stopping briefly at an overlook:
It’s a very pleasant place, Brittany. Sure, it’s not the snow-capped mountains of Utah, the historical and spiritual Jerusalem or the raw simplicity of the Amazon Rainforest, but there’s nothing wrong with it. There are no dangerous animals hiding in the woods, no right-wing religious freaks waiting for any excuse to blow up a school bus, the roads are well-maintained and by god I think even the hospitals are functional. If Brittany were a girl, she’d be a solid 6/10, a cute smile but a bit chubby, tee-totaller except for special occasions, does recycling properly. She wouldn’t be that much fun but she’d be reliable and wouldn’t come with any baggage. She’d be the perfect parent, in the same way that Brittany is a perfect place to raise children.
When we got to the Pink Granite coast, we headed onto the rocks. There are set paths to follow but I headed off-road and onto the scruffier cliff-edge to satisfy my childish adventurer’s streak. The kids, naturally, wanted to follow but mum managed to hold them back (mostly). I jumped a few gaps and hoisted myself up to harder to reach places; I could feel the kids watching me and, man, did I feel like a big brother again.*
*My younger brother isn’t dead (at least he wasn’t last time I checked), I just don’t feel like his big brother anymore.
After an hour or so we left and headed home. I was as exhausted as the kids were. After an hour of silence, Trish turned to me and said, “Looks like you wore them out, they’re fast asleep.” Only I never heard her say that because I was leaning against the window, also asleep. I was with them in their dreams about Orc armies crawling out of those unreal rocks readying for battle.