Bretagne – a roadtrip through France’s far west

When arriving years ago in France, some utterly kind and beloved people took me on a little road trip through Normandy and Brittany. (or Bretagne in french, not to confound with Great Britain, same roots but on the other site of the channel). In less than 48h we visited Mont St. Michel, Saint Maló, and Cap Frehel. I am still stunned about the amount of kilometres we drove in such a short time but even more about the beauty I’ve seen. Ever since I dreamt of returning to Bretagne. 10 years later it was finally happening: We took a 2 weeks family road trip through Bretagne, once around 🙂

our roadtrip itinerary through Bretagne/Brittany

our roadtrip itinerary through Bretagne/Brittany, 1300 km in 2 weeks

 

We spent the first week travelling and the 2nd week in a little fisherman house by the sea. Initially we planned to move around for the entire duration of our trip but it turned out to be a pain in the ass to plan a little more complicated than anticipated to find accommodation for a) less than a week and b) within our budget.

Tipp: if you are travelling in high season (July and August) be prepared to find many rentals only available for entire weeks 

In the following I’ll share locations we have been to, those that we liked and warmly can recommend, and where we potentially have some tips for. This is of cause not a complete list of must-see-Brittany-locations; we travelled 2 weeks – not 2 months – and I am sure that we could spent easily another 2 weeks and visit an entirely different set of spots and be as enchanted.

Carnac – The Brittany kick off

Carnac has one of the most extensive Menhir collection of Bretagne in it’s repertoire that you simply cannot skip. There are fields of ancient standing stones that are literally welcoming you, no way of getting around them, of not seeing them, of not being impressed. (we did not skip the beautiful beach or the awesome seafood neither though). Carnac has its own version of an Hop On/Hop Off tour, a little train (keep in mind that we did a family vacation with rather small children, normally we are obviously too cool for little trains) that stops amongst others at the harbour of Carnac, the neighbour village La Trinité-sur-Mer and several relevant sites to check out the Dolmen and Menhirs

Tipp: check out the Plage de Légenèse, it’s smaller and less touristic than the Grande Plage

Carnac, Dolmen in Brittany

Carnac, Dolmen in Brittany

Golf of Morbihan – the mediterranean of Bretagne

The little Sea” is a unique place. In an almost mediterranean setting with lays a natural harbour with around 40-60 islands – depending on the tides. It’s perfect for walks along the shore, to have a cold wine in the evening sun and simply enjoy your self 🙂 It was on my must-do-list and I got not disappointed. It is a bit posh and I am not sure if I would like to hang out there for a week (nah, not really) but for an afternoon excursion, it was really cool.

Golf of Morbihan - some of the plenty sailing boats

Golf of Morbihan – some of the plenty sailing boats

Guérande

Guérande is off the bucket list as well (it actually really was on!) and purchasing our body weight in Fleur de Sel with it.  This was actually quite an interesting trip even though visiting salt fields does not sound as the most exciting thing to do. We booked a little tour organised by Terre de Sel (available in different languages and as well tailored for kids) and I will never forget that Sel de Guerande comes from the ocean, NOT the sea. ffs.

Les Salines de Guérande - the salt fields with a typical wheelbarrow

Les Salines de Guérande – the salt fields with a typical wheelbarrow

Douarnenez and La Port Musée

Compared to the sleepy villages and  impressive shores and beaches of Bretagne, Douarnenez appeared big, rough and the opposite of laid back. Well, it’s a city (compared to Carnac, not to Paris though) but how wrong we were!. We really had a blast there! The beach is awesome, the rather big fishing port super interesting and very accessible (the kids loved it!) and we can only recommend to visit the boat museum (not only for the kids).

One of the beaches of Douarnenez - Tréboul Plage

One of the beaches of Douarnenez – Tréboul Plage

Houses at the Port of Douarnenez - and favorite place of Commissaire Dupin, the hero in Jean-Luc Bannalec's books

Houses at the Port of Douarnenez – and favorite place of Commissaire Dupin, the hero in Jean-Luc Bannalec’s books

Douarnenez - view from the bridge

Douarnenez – view from the bridge

 

When visiting Douarnenez you will cross on one point the quite high Pont Neuf. Inevitably notice hundreds of sailing boats laying lazily left and right down in Port Rhu, one of the 3 harbors of Douarnenez. It´s known for it´s boat cemetery (you will undoubted see wrecks here and there) and the outdoor section of Port Musée. The fishing vessels that are belonging to the museum are up to 100 years old. They can be completely explored, even the engine rooms are accessible.
The second section of the Port Musée is just across the street and is a modern museum with exhibits on the sea, fishery, navigation and the history of sardine fishing in Douarnenez.
Tipp: Plan in a bit time; we had only 2h and it was a bit short.

Point du Raz

Before heading to the  north of Bretagne, we made a unexpected big detour to visit the Pointe du Raz. After driving already longer than planned, we took the trail that was indicated with “20mn by feet until the Pointe”. Yeah, right. It was quite far, rather 40 min if not more, it was windy, it was hot, it was wild, it was great and stunning.

Tipp:  don’t get tricked by thinking: ah we will walk til the cap and and head back, easy peasy. Consider it rather as a relaxed day trip than a quick stop by

This view was so worth the effort; you even can see the Ile de Sein at the horizon

This view was so worth the effort; you even can see the Ile de Sein at the horizon

Pont Aven

Pont Aven.. (can you guess who inspired me when planning that trip? (except Dournenez, that was a coincidence)). Pont Aven.. well.. Pont Aven.. it´s different. Pretty without a doubt and charming. But.. it’s not by the sea and you can feel that very well, which is ok.. but ..do you know this feeling when you think you’re in a fake environment? like in a Truman Show? Mont St. Michel, Montmartre, Disneyland… I would still recommend to visit if you are around. It’s kinda fascinating how a region so close by the sea can change simply because it’s catered by fresh instead of marine waters.

boats in the river L'Aven, even quite inland and not the sea, it's affected by the tides

boats in the river L’Aven, even quite inland and not the sea, it’s affected by the tides

Guimiliau

A hideout in the middle of now where. Fields and cows and actually the first time, that we could relax, for real. Our only activity there was a visit of Menez-Meur. Located in the middle of the Amorique Regional Parc it offers scenic views, wildlife (they have wolfs!), and shows off with everything breton flora and fauna can come up with.

Morlaix

As we are crazy and were not charged enough already, we had to stop by Morlaix before reaching the final destination of our roadtrip. Just for a bit, just for a walk, just to have lunch, just to see the bridge. Just to add more things on our agenda and just not to miss anything. But to be honest, it was the good call. The viaduct is worth getting up the stairs for and on a side note: it smelled comforting like Paris Metro. But the view over the roofs of Morlaix is lovely and we were lucky to drop by on market day. It was the nicest! I would probably not suggest to spent a weekend there but do step by if you are around. We spent an amazing time. Really.

the Viaduct of Morlaix .. and a pretty view over town. Plus: blue skies

the Viaduct of Morlaix .. and a pretty view over town. Plus: blue skies

St. Jacut de la Mer

St. Jacut is a peninsula in northern Brittany. With less than 3km² and not even 1000 permanent inhabitants it’s one of the lesser known areas within the Côtes-d’Armors. Compared to their dominant neighbors Dinard and St. Malò, it remains rather invisible for greater tourism approaches, too many people wouldn’t fit on anyway.

Happy in St.Jacut de la Mer <3

Happy in St.Jacut de la Mer <3

To be honest with you, there is not much you can do at St.Jacut de la Mer. If you want to go out, have drinks, socialize or shop; don’t go there. Really, you will get bored fairly quick and you will populate this beautiful place on earth for nothing.

It’s the perfect place to do nothing though. To lazily let the day pass. Wait for the tides to get low and to have a long walk through the tidelands. Explore the newly revealed lands; the sandbanks, crabs, oyster fields, shells, flotsam, and walk over to the islands that are reachable only by boat half of the times. Do you feel that could be a place for you? Check out our blog post about St. Jacut to get more info about this little paradise.

We initially planned to visit the Mont St. Michel on our way back but I caught a nasty cold and we had to scrap this last adventure. But postponed isn’t cancelled – we’ll be back!

and for the foodies: What to eat in Brittany?

Seafood Plattern: a plate full of freshly caught oysters, mussels, clams, scallops, winkles, crab and prawns, with mayonnaise, bread, butter. There are obviously plenty of restaurants around that are offering this speciality, however, we had a nice plattern at Vents et Marées in Saint-Enogat/Dinard.

Crêpes: sweet super thin pancakes .. best with butter!

Galettes savory super thin pancakes.. best with no matter what!

Kouign Amann –  THE best! A puff pastry with butter. and sugar. and a bit more butter. It has it’s origin in Douarnenez and can be bought in every bakery and on the market

… and everything else that is butter, contains butter or can be topped with butter 🙂

 Check out our Bretagne Gallery! 

p class=”p4″>get the best ideas for a family road through Brittany, France

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18 Responses

  1. July 2, 2017

    […] day and leaves me toying with the idea to simply stay at home. This year we will spent our summer vacation in northern Italy, at the Garda Lake. It’s rather unusual for me to write a pre-vacation […]

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