Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Highest Mountain

Not long after Understanding Frenchman and I first met, he made me a promise. A few short months had been enough for him to understand how much I love the mountains, and after listening to yet another lyrical description of the Ecrins, the Aravis or the Alpes Maritimes, he told me that one day he would take me to the Monts d'Arrée.

Like most people, my first reaction was, "Mont-what?"

But as soon as he told me that the Monts d'Arrée are a chain of peaks in the Massif Armoricain, which along with the Alps, the Pyrenées, the Jura, the Vosges and the Massif Central is considered one of France's principal mountain ranges, and that one of its summits is the highest point in Brittany, I was determined to go.

And so, after our adventures in the magical forest of Huelgoat, we drove to the foot of the Roc'h Trévézel and began our ascent. As you can see from these pictures, the ridge is rocky and dramatic looking, and we did a bit of scrambling.

... but as this picture shows, the top of it is probably less than 50 m above the car park. Although the Monts d"Arrée reach elevations of 385m, most of the climb is a very gentle slope up from sea level, and the bit that sticks out of the plateau is not very high at all.

Nevertheless, I was pretty excited about being at the highest point in Brittany, and at the top of a major mountain range too. Until, that is, we arrived home and I decided to double check my facts before posting boastful claims and cleverly engineered pictures all over Facebook. Lucky I did (or perhaps not): it turns out that according to the most recent geographical surveys, the highest point in Brittany is actually the neighbouring Roc'h Ruz, and not the Roc'h Trévézel at all.

I actually think we might well have climbed the Roc'h Ruz as well, as we did a second, unidentified, peak just after the first which may have been approximately the right place, but as nobody seems to have considered the Roc'h Ruz to be important until very recently, there's very little information about its location out there and it doesn't seem to be marked on any maps. And whatever the precise heights of the mountains (the differences are a question of a few centimetres), they are definitely worth visiting for the cool rock formations and the beautiful views from the top - you can see fields, lakes and forest stretching out in every direction and dotted with little villages, while on the western horizon is the Rade de Brest and the Atlantic Ocean.

I'm choosing to believe that we did climb the right mountain though, especially as my internet research revealed two other distressing facts: the Monts d'Arrée are the highest in Brittany, but the highest in the whole massif is actually in the Mayenne department in the Pays de la Loire, and worst of all, there are two peaks in Normandy that beat their Breton neighbours by about 30 metres!


  1. I had never heard of it! What a shame... I want to visit now. Your French man tiens ses promesses, good pick ;-)

  2. i like nature so i always want to explore different things check Top 10 highest mountains in the world - funklist these are in my hit list