Frédéric, scout and expert at La Mine d’Or

Let’s head off now for the beach of 'La Mine d’Or' at Pénestin and (just this once...) we’re going to turn our backs on the ocean: Frédéric wants us to discover this geological site which is unique in Europe.
Visite guidée Site de la Mine d'Or Pénestin
Frédéric, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m in charge of heritage promotion for the town council of Pénestin. My job is to showcase the local heritage through guided tours, educational walks, etc...

What was your impression when you first set eyes on La Mine d’Or?

This can’t be in Brittany! We often think of the granite rocks and dunes of the south of the Finistère. But these yellowish orange cliffs in the light of the setting sun... I almost got the impression I was in Africa !
What makes this site so special?

The cliff is made of sedimentary rocks (grains of sand packed together if you like!), more than 1 million years old. What makes it unique is the nature of the sediments we find stacked here, and the traces that they leave behind on the cliffs.

I’ve heard say that apparently the cliffs once lined a river, is that correct ?

Indeed, if you observe the cliff carefully you’ll notice like sorts of 'wrinkles' in the layers of sediment. These 'wrinkles' are in fact the traces left behind by currents. It was therefore a river which deposited each layer of sediment which today forms the cliffs of La Mine d’Or. It’s very rare today to still be able to observe and search in a paleo valley such as this one. We’ve found chiselled flints here in the cliffs which prove that this site was inhabited by man more than 300 000 years ago !
Visite guidée Site de la Mine d'Or Pénestin
How do you go about raising awareness amongst the visitors concerning the 'fragile' nature of this site ?

The cliffs have really fallen victim to the effects of erosion: not only natural erosion but that which is caused by man. We talk about change, coastal development, agricultural methods.... We also talk about 'seagrasses' or 'zostera' and the various natural 'debris' which the sea deposits on the beach. Often considered as a type of pollution, these seagrasses in fact do the opposite. They actually play an important role in protecting the coastline from erosion and in preserving the ecosystem which lives in this very environment.
Do you have any practical tips you give to the walkers who go along the coastal path ?

To stay on the path, not to trample the plants which protect the area from erosion, to keep a certain distance away from the edge of the cliffs to avoid any possible accidents due to landslides. I also draw to their attention to the fact that bicycles are strictly forbidden along the path. But, last of all, to keep their eyes peeled and to make the most of this magnificent site !