Brittany- Bretagne in French - is a peaceful region in the northwest of France. This large peninsula features a rugged coastline bordered by the English Channel to the north, and the Celtic Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the west. With over 2,860 km of coastline, including around 800 islands and islets, Brittany is quite a popular seaside holiday destination.
Away from the shore, Brittany is a rugged, hilly area. It features several ancient woodlands, including the famous Arthurian Broceliande Forest. Check out our pick of the best things to do in Brittany, from natural wonders to manmade sights, and from delectable specialities to historic edifices.
Ploumanac'h Natural SiteTake a breathtaking stroll on the Pink Granite Coast
Located 3 km northwest of Perros-Guirec, Ploumanac’h Natural Site is one of the most popular places to see the Pink Granite Coast of Brittany. Head first to Mean Ruz Lighthouse to get a breathtaking view on the Seven Islands Natural Reserve that lies some 5 km off the coast. Follow the GR34 path that starts at Trestraou Beach and goes all around the cape to find a series of iconic, weather-shaped rocks including Napoleon’s Hat. It gets quite windy here, but it’s worth it for the wild beauty.
- Location: Perros-Guirec, Côtes-d'Armor department, France
Oyster MarketShuck oysters on the spot in Cancale
Seafood can easily be found all around Brittany, but it’s in the small fishing village of Cancale, about 13 km east of Saint-Malo, that you should head to if you’re an oyster lover. The Oyster Market is held daily at La Houle Harbour. Here, a few stalls sell fresh oysters at producer prices. They are served in a plate with a piece of lemon, so just sit on the quay and shuck your own extra-fresh oysters while enjoying the sea view. They go down nicely with some wine, bread and butter, but you’ll have to bring your own for the refined picnic lunch experience.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
- Location: Right under La Houle Lighthouse in Cancale, France
Saint-Malo RampartsWalk on the walls of a historic port city
Walk in the footsteps of the 18th-century privateers by taking a stroll on the ramparts that surround this quaint seaside city. Originally built in the 12th century, then upgraded in the early 18th century, the Saint-Malo ramparts are a masterpiece of military architecture. Covering a total distance of about 2 km, the walk around Saint-Malo’s old town permits gives views of the splendid houses of bygone shipowners and privateers, the marina, Bon-Secours Beach and many other interesting places. After your walk, go roam the cobbled streets of the walled city to lunch on a buckwheat pancake or a seafood dish. Get there before 10am if you want to avoid the crowd.
- Location: Saint-Malo, Brittany, France
Historic Centre of DinanStep back into the Middle Ages in this well-preserved walled town
Dinan is a medieval walled town located between Rennes and Saint-Malo, in the north-western part of Brittany. Walk through the cobbled streets of the historic centre, spot the half-timber houses along Rue du Petit-Fort, find the Clock Tower on Rue de l’Horloge and climb up it to take in a great view of the old town. The 13th–century castle is the main departure point for the 2.5 km walk of the ramparts that surround Dinan. At lunch time, go to the Rue du Quai and you’ll find a good choice of restaurants on the Durance riverside.
- Location: 50 km northwest of Rennes, France
Paimpont ForestHunt for the Graal in the Broceliande Forest
Surrounding the village of Paimpont, from which it takes its name, Paimpont Forest is what remains of the vast ancient forest. It is perhaps better known as Broceliande, as it is called in the legends of King Arthur. The best place to start your visit is at the Château de Comper, which houses a museum dedicated to Arthurian romance. Get an Arthurian trail map and go explore the forest. It hides the Fountain of Eternal Youth, the Valley of No Return, the stone in which Merlin was imprisoned by Viviane, and many other places of interest. Do not miss the Chapelle du Graal in Tréhorenteuc, as it features stained glass windows that illustrate several scenes from the legends of King Arthur.
- Location: 30 km west of Rennes, France
Batz IslandGo island hopping in Brittany
This tiny island is a pristine and serene day trip destination. Besides the splendid rocky coast and the unspoilt beaches, the most notable attractions of the island are the Exotic Garden Georges Delaselle, the ruins of the 11th-century chapel, and the 19th-century lighthouse. Open to the public from June to September, you can get to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy a fantastic 360º view. There are no car on the island, so walking and cycling are the only ways to get around. The best time to go to Batz Island is spring, when the weather is usually fine and the flowers are in bloom. If you want to avoid the crowd in summer, try to catch the first ferry there from Roscoff at 8am.
- Location: 15-minute ferry ride from Roscoff, Brittany, France
Carnac AlignmentsWalk through mysterious Neolithic stone formations
Carnac is a quaint fishing village, which is famous for its many megalith sites, containing 3,000 standing stones and dolmens. These stones make for great photos, especially early in morning and just before sunset. There’s currently no clear explanation of why these stones were set this way 5,000 years ago: earthquake detector? Astronomy? Homage to ancestors? It all adds to the mystery and offers a cool conversation topic. Try to find the Géant du Manio, a tall stone hidden in a small wood a short distance from Equestrian Centre Les Menhirs. It is believed to help with fertility.
- Location: The main Carnac Alignment site is off the D196 Road, 1 km north of the village centre
Pointe de Pen-HirEnjoy the show of the mighty natural elements
The Pointe de Pen-Hir is a rocky headland that juts out from the Crozon Peninsula 20 km south of Brest. A visit here gives you the opportunity to face the mighty force of nature: strong winds lashing the heathland and huge waves splashing onto the rocks, especially in winter. A WWII memorial and a museum are located right at the entrance of the site. You’ll also find many trails starting from Pointe de Pen-Hir, including the path to a mysterious Green Grotto.
- Location: 3 km southwest of Camaret-sur-Mer, France
Cidre, galettes and crêpes in QuimperFeast on Brittany’s most famous food
Crêpes and galettes are 2 traditional dishes of Brittany, though they’re basically the same. The first is a pancake made of wheat flour while the other is made of buckwheat. Usually served accompanied by a bolée (ceramic bowl) of apple cider, they can be sampled all around the region. Arguably the best come from Quimper, the capital city of the Finistère department of Brittany. You’ll find many excellent crêperies in the old town, especially on Rue du Sallé and Place au Beurre. A must-try is the galette-saucisse, or buckwheat pancake with sausage. It’s the traditional street food of Brittany.
- Location: Old Quimper Town, France
Zoo and Botanical Garden of BranféréClimb among the trees for a unique perspective
The Zoo and Botanical Garden of Branféré was established in Le Guerno in 1965 by animal lovers Paul Jourde and Hélène Castori. Covering an area of 35 hectares, it’s home to over 1,000 animals from about 150 species. Unlike most zoos, the great point at Branféré is that the majority of the animals can roam the park and interact with visitors. There are 5 restaurants and coffee-shops in the compound. Try out Parcabout: 17,000 sq m of netting up in the trees, which gives you the opportunity to see things from a different angle.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 1pm to 6pm
- Location: Le Guerno, 30 km east of Vannes
- Tel: +33 (0)2 97 42 94 66