The earthquakes and hurricanes in 2017 have shown again the devastating power of our planet's natural forces in just minutes or hours, but walking along the Pink Granite Coast in Brittany is to be reminded of the effect nature can have over a much longer period of time.

The sheer relentless erosion here, over hundreds of millions of years, of wind and water has created a stunning landscape.

Dotted around, in chaotic fashion, and as far as the eye can see on one estuary, are boulders – some several times the size of a house – all pink but not one of them the same shape, made from one of the hardest rocks known to man.

Unlike the seismic tremors and tempests this autumn, relatively fleeting moments, this 20km stretch of coastline came about through the long passage of time. Following a magma eruption about 300 million years ago this was, at the start, only one big block.Then, little by little, century after century, it split, and turned into a granite chaos, with the slow erosion of wind, sea salt, ice and rain – only 3mm a century – leaving us with the boulders we see today.

But don't think the Pink Granite Coast is only about hard rocks and rugged landscapes. There are many coves and bays where trees offer shelter and the sand is fine and golden.

One such beach is at Ploumanac'h, two hours' drive west from St Malo, where the Hotel Saint-Guirec provides the perfect base for exploring the coast path to see the dramatic scenery.

You can walk eastwards along the "customs officers' path" towards Perros-Guirec, the main town which has developed as a popular tourist destination – the Côte de Granit Rose last year attracted more than 1 million visitors.

Many of the more unusually shaped rocks have been given names, like Mushroom, Witch, Pile of Crêpes, and Napolean's Hat, the last of which you can see from the hotel's small bay.

Here, as all along the north Brittany coastline, there are two distinct parts to each morning and as you look out to sea is a totally different world to the one six hours before, or six hours later.

When the tide is out, you see boats lying on the ground, while in summer the sandy beaches are a bather's paradise. When it's in, the water can be pounding against the sea defences, or, as at Hotel Saint-Guirec, lapping gently below just where you're sitting.

The beauty of this area is well known in other countries. While we were staying there, a TV crew from ARD were filming Kommissar Dupin, while the castle on the right of the bay, the Château de Costaérès, is owned by German comedian Dieter Hallervoden.

From Perros-Guirec one dazzlingly sunny morning, we took a boat journey to the Seven Islands, a small archipelago just a few miles out, clearly visible from the coast path.

These islands are a bird-spotters' paradise, with guillemots, gannets, razorbills, shags and puffins – each breed preferring its own island – and grey seals, though you have to be lucky to see these.

We hit the jackpot, as we spotted a dozen seals, some playfully swimming, others sunbathing where they could, and one or two trying, with some difficulty, to clamber up onto a rock.

The right side of Île Rouzic looked different to the other islands as we approached – white, rather than dark. Only as you approach do you understand why... 24,000 pairs of gannets, tightly packed, clinging to ledges on the cliff face, were colouring the rock snow white.

That afternoon, we decided to walk the opposite direction from Saint-Guirec, heading west along the GR34, a coastal path that, in total, stretches from Mont St Michel to near Nantes.

The landscape here was more mellow, but no less interesting, and that evening, dinner at Latitude restaurant, with fabulously fresh fish and seafood, while the sun set out to sea, was memorable.

You can get to the Pink Granite Coast with Brittany Ferries on their Plymouth to Roscoff route, or Portsmouth to St Malo.

And the benefit of going via St Malo is that you can take in more glorious coastal walking, at Cap d'Erquy and Cap Fréhel, and stop over in picturesque Dinan, a short drive inland.

One of the most beautiful medieval towns in Brittany, Dinan has so many fine views and pretty corners, it makes an interesting contrast to the shorelines.

Gazing down from the ramparts nearly 100m above the river Rance to the old port is like looking at a painting.

Perched on a steep-sided bank, and with its defensive towers and ramparts stretching almost 2.5km, it is clear this heavily fortified town felt it had to do everything to protect itself and its people from the enemy.

A stroll down the beautiful Rue du Jerzuel, with its half-timbered houses and art and craft workshops is to be transported back in time.

At the bottom, you arrive opposite L'Atelier Gourmand, a wonderful and not over-expensive restaurant.

Staying overnight in Dinan at the central Hotel Arvor gives you time after a leisurely breakfast to make your way back to St Malo for the crossing back to England.

For a short break, or longer if you want to do more of the GR34, it's hard to beat . . . superb coastal scenery and healthy walking. Yes, you are sometimes tired by the evening. But then how good that French cooking tastes.


Jon and his wife Maria travelled to Brittany as guests of the Brittany Tourism and Brittany Ferries.