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 🙂
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 – Our Bretagne Road Trip 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, or 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
Accomodation: We stayed in the Résidence Goélia Bleue Océane. The location was really good, very close to the center and even closer to the beach. However, I honestly would not recommend to stay there with kids – the room was tiny – it was literally only one room for 4 people with the kids sleeping in bunk beds in the entrance hall.
The apartments Mer et Soleil and Les Marines are retrospectively a way better option. Apart from being spacious, they are both close to the beach. Carnac is pretty small and walkable and the center is quickly reached. For longer distances or with kids that are not too fond of walking, you can still take your car. We had no problem finding a parking place in town and I would now choose size over location.
Prepare yourself for a journey to the sea! A yellow rain coat shoudn’t be missing; don’t get dazzled by the sun, it literally can start to rain in a wink at all times
Golf of Morbihan – the mediterranean of Bretagne
“The little Sea” is a unique place. In an almost mediterranean setting 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. Just know that 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 or a short trip, it’s great!
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.
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 nautical museum (not only for the kids).
Prep your kids for their Bretagne holidays!
Accomodation we stayed in a an Airbnb -that is unfortunately not available anymore for rentals – and we really enjoyed the space we had. However, it was in a bit off. If we return to Douarnenez, we’ll try to get a family room in DOMITYS Les Gréements d’Or. The perspective of having a heated indoor pool is just too tempting, especially considering the quickly changing weathers in Bretagne. (psst.. it also has a Sauna) However, the biggest plus of this hotel is clearly the proximity to the old town of Douarnenez: close to shopping options, restaurants and the fishing port. Check here to see if they are still available on your travel dates.
Tip; If you plan to visit a restaurant with your family, check out The Fork for restaurants in Douarnenez and book easily online
Pointe 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. Also protect yourself against the weather: it’s really windy – take sun protection if it’s warm and sunny and an extra layer and a raincoat if it’s not.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! Until then, have a look at gobeyondbounds Mont St.Michel adventure!
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 🙂
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