It’s easy to fall in love with Brittany. This western corner of France boasts an abundance of breath-taking unspoilt coastline, tranquil inland villages, ancient monuments and fortified towns. The region is fiercely proud of its distinctive Breton language and Celtic lineage. Here we present six magical destinations that will make you want to visit.
The pretty port town of Camaret sur Mer sits on the western tip of Brittany’s Crozon Peninsula, surrounded by powder sand beaches and looming cliffs. The centre of town is a charming hotchpotch of seafood restaurants, crèperies, and galleries showcasing work by local artists. Cafes and cheerfully coloured houses line the bustling harbour. Visit the 17th century chapel, Notre Dame de Rocamadour, adorned with religious offerings of toy boats from generations of fishermen. Hike the scenic coastal path above 70 metre high cliffs at Cap de la Chèvre, past tracts of heather moorland and coastal pine trees. Don’t miss the spectacular viewpoint at Pointe de Pen-Hir, where rock formations jut dramatically from the Atlantic. The town boasts an attractive sandy beach, or check out nearby Morgat and Palud Plage.
The majestic 12th century walled citadel of Saint Malo cuts an imposing figure. Restored to its original glory following extensive bomb damage during WW2, today the 800 year old city is a bustling port and popular tourist destination. Explore the vibrant intramuros or old town, where you’ll find plenty of shops, bars and eateries. For great views, take a walk along the splendid 17th century ramparts. Saint Malo’s expansive stretches of fine sandy beach and its refreshing sea pool attract abundant visitors on hot summer days. History buffs should visit the Musee de la Ville, housed in the stately Chateau de Saint Malo, to explore the city’s colourful past.
Nestled beside the serene Nantes-Brest Canal, the centrepiece of the historic market town of Josselin has to be its regal castle. The stunning Chateau de Josselin (open to the public from April to October) dates back to the 11th century, and has been home to the Rohan family for over 500 years. Relax in the immaculate French and English gardens, and check out the quirky Dolls Museum within the grounds. The mythical ancient Forest of Broceliande is a short drive away.
Ploumanac’h is a tranquil former fishing village on northern Brittany’s idyllic pink granite coast. At low tide the town’s crescent shaped beach extends into a vast sheltered bay, dotted with craggy outcrops and rock pools. Visit the tiny medieval chapel, and the historic shrine to 6th century Welsh monk Saint Guirec, which sits atop a partly submerged rock in the bay.
From Ploumanac’h follow the coastal footpath past the lighthouse. Enjoy spectacular views across a landscape of pink hued stone sculptures. These naturally occurring monuments measuring up to 20 metres high are symbolic of the Granite Coast. Your path leads to the popular market town of Perros Guirec, a water sports hub where you can indulge in fishing, diving, sailing, kayaking and surfing.
This historic medieval walled settlement is a designated art and history town, whose residents include painters, sculptors and craftsmen. Scenically situated on the River Rance, Dinan’s attractive quayside is filled with restaurants and bars. The historic old town is a delightful maze of cobbled streets lined with timber framed houses, galleries, craft shops and cafés. Step back in time amidst the impossibly atmospheric (and rather steep) Rue du Petit Fort and Rue du Jerzual. Don’t miss the medieval 13th century castle, complete with moat and drawbridge. Check out the two mile long ramparts which surround the town, and climb the 158 steps of the 15th century clock tower. You’ll be rewarded with superb views, and on a clear day you may spot Mont St Michel glimmering on the horizon.
Located in Brittany’s Morbihan departement, Carnac is an archaeological must-see, famed for its vast numbers of prehistoric megaliths. Almost 3,000 granite standing stones dominate the town and its outskirts. These lichen clad, ancient dolmens (single stones) and menhirs (multiple stone structures) date back 7,000 years. Wander amongst atmospheric avenues of hulking monuments, venerated by Bretons, Romans and Christians down the ages. Afterwards, chill out on the town’s mile-long white sand beach, fringed by the azure waters of the Quiberon peninsula.