Finistère means ‘end of the earth’, not in any Biblical sense, of course – it derives from the Latin: Finis terra – but until someone points that out, you tend not to pick up on it.
More familiar as a name in the radio weather forecasts from the BBC, Finistère is quite a lovable, quirky, unpretentious department, Celtic in its deep origins and, if you believe what you are told, with simmering undercurrents that would declare UDI from France given half the chance. It has always been apart from French, even Breton, influences, and was the last stronghold of resistance by Druids against insipient Christianity.
Much of the department remains only lightly brushed by tourism, and Breton survives as an everyday language here – check out the bilingual road signs. Tourism is growing, but not at an alarming rate, and the pace of life still befits the out-of-the-way-ness of the region. Finistère has a fabulous, raggedy coastline, like dragon’s teeth, with numerous tiny coves and estuaries set against the craggy headlands of westernmost France. And, in spite of its full frontal aspect to Atlantic south-westerlies, the climate is nowhere near as bad as might be expected...usually.
Comité Régional du Tourisme
1 rue Raoul Ponchon, 35069 RENNES
Tel: 02 99 28 44 30
Comité Départemental du Tourisme
4 rue du 19 mars 1962, 29018 QUIMPER
Tel: 02 98 76 25 64
By car: Quimper is 63 miles (100km) from the Roscoff ferry port; 255 miles (408km) from Ouistreham via the A84 and Rennes; 144 miles (230km) from St Malo. All roads into Brittany are toll free.
By rail: British Rail and French Railways (SNCF) operate a daily service between London (St Pancras, Eurostar) and Paris (Gard du Nord) (3h). The TGV operates from Paris to Quimper (4h) and Brest (4h).
By air: The nearest cities to which flights can be made are Brest and Quimper. A number of companies fly here from Paris, and low cost airlines fly from the UK and Ireland.