Is Brittany a good place to live?
Travel report: Brittany round trip along the coast in the north
Brittany holidays: France's north coast from its most beautiful side
If you like the sea, you will love Brittany. The sea is always there on the Breton coast. Because no place is more than 60 km away from the 2500 km long coast. Steeply sloping cliffs, a mostly rugged coast and in between, Caribbean white sandy beaches with palm trees. When the sun shines, the sea shines turquoise and now and then you can see dolphins and seals.
Brittany is known for its heavy surf with the impressive tidal range on the north coast. This ensures beaches of almost limitless width at low tide, when the sea retreats far.
For people who enjoy it, Brittany is the perfect travel destination, because nowhere do oysters and mussels taste fresher and better than here.
The Breton region is also ideal for a round trip for camping fans. There are great campsites along the northwest of France. There are holiday homes as well as small boutique hotels. There is the right accommodation for everyone.
At my Brittany round trip with Susi (Black Dots White Spots) I have them North coast of Brittany of Rennes to Finistère traveled with a rental car. We marveled at the many lighthouses, visited small coastal towns, explored the rough nature and enjoyed the Breton hospitality.
My first impression is overwhelming. I will come back. Then with my campervan and more time!
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Why go to Brittany?
I'll be honest: I've had enough of the country - or rather my exchange student - since a student exchange in the south of France. It all went wrong. I was appalled by the French arrogance and ignorance of other cultures and languages. In German lessons, for example, 80% spoken French, hardly any German.
In general, I found the country there, where I had spent such great vacations in my childhood, no longer great.
25 years have passed since then. I've traveled the world but avoided France.
But Brittany managed to overcome my (completely exaggerated) trauma within a day.
After I get home I wonder how I could have been so stupid. I know for sure that I want to go back to Brittany and France soon.
I'm already planning to do another road trip because some places like Quimper, Concarneau, Carnac and Ile-de Vilaine we had to leave out.
We didn't have enough time.
On some days the weather was just too bad, so we couldn't do some activities. But the diversity always has alternatives for us.
Vacation in Brittany? Sure, of course!
Did you know that Brittany is that second most popular travel destination in France after the French Riviera is? Now i know why!
Brittany is different. The Bretons have always had a special position in our neighboring country. They are semi-autonomous and they are said to be very stubborn. Just like the original Bretons Asterix and Obelix. I like that.
The real meaning of this stubbornness is felt when the motorway to Brittany suddenly ends. Since the Bretons simply refuse to charge tolls, the expressway will not be expanded. But that doesn't matter at all and I think it's great! Decelerated travel is appropriate here anyway, because the landscape is far too picturesque to just “rush through”.
You will love the coast just as much as the small towns with the wonderful stone houses and flowers in front of them.
The bright blue sea as well as the rough climate and the ever-present wind. Add to that the enormous tidal range when the sea retreats for kilometers at low tide with a height difference of up to 14 meters and reveals seemingly endless sandy beaches!
The fishing boats lying on dry land that lean to one side as if they were sleeping. Or the granite coast, on which huge boulders are piled up impressively.
Brittany offers unique scenic contrasts. Rugged and steep rocky coasts on one side and turquoise water and white sandy beaches like in the Caribbean on the other.
The "end of the world" (finis terrae) - Finistére. For Bretons it is the "beginning of the world" and one of the most beautiful regions in Europe. We think so too.
Route of my Brittany road trip
The five-day road trip through Brittany was short but great to get a first impression. We have covered a total of around 760 km.
The five-day road trip through Brittany was short but great to get a first impression. We have covered a total of around 760 km.
My route and places visited:
- Day 1: Renes - La Roche aux Fées - St. Malo
- Day 2: St. Malo - Bréhat Archipelago (Ploubazlanec) - Perros-Guirec (Pink Granite Coast)
- Day 3: Perros Guirec - Roscoff (Ile de Batz) - Saint-Mathieu / Le Conquet - Finistère (Cap de la Chèvre, Pointe de Pen Hir, Morgat)
- Day 4: Le Conquet Iroise Marine Nature Park - Molène Island
- Day 5: Crozon Peninsula - Saint-Mathieu - Finistère
- Day 6: Drive to Brest and return to Germany
Map of the Brittany round trip with our visited places and regions:
Here you will find my visited places and highlights of the Brittany road trip
A trip to Brittany can never be long enough. The diversity of the region is totally underestimated. The choice of activities and locations was therefore not easy. I would visit these places again at any time:
Rennes - capital of the region and student city
As soon as I arrive in Rennes, I take a taxi to get into town. The first port of call is the visitor center, where I get a city map and tips, because I only have half a day to explore.
I turn right into the old town where half-timbered houses are lined up crooked and crooked. I find particularly beautiful specimens in the streets and alleys of Rue Saint-Sauveur, Rue de la Psalette, Rue Saint-Yves and Rue des Dames.
In the center I also find extensive parks and architecturally interesting buildings such as the Breton Parliament or the modern Les Champs Libres
Rennes also has no shortage of small cafes and restaurants. After the Creperie Saint Georges recommended by friends closed in the middle of the historic center, I followed recommendation two: La Kitchenette. Here I got hold of the last free table and treated myself to the Sunday brunch menu. Delicious!
- Tips for Rennes: At the visitor center you can get maps of the city showing tours that can be walked in a few hours. I left the route quickly and just drifted through the city.
- Tips for eating:La Kitchenette, 2 rue Jules Simon
- Travel time from the airport: Depending on the time and traffic situation, approx. 15-20 minutes.
La Roche-aux-Fées in Essé (fairy rocks)
The Roche-aux-Fées, France's largest dolmen, is located in Essé. The structure looks like an avenue, roofed over with massive slabs of slate.
The Roche-aux-Fées is located on a hill in a small forest, hidden by oak and chestnut trees. If you're into legends and stories of fairies and Merlin, this is a must-stop place. The fairy rock is only 40 minutes southeast of Rennes. We are therefore happy to take the detour to visit this magical place.
Because according to legend, it was built overnight by fairies to prove their existence.
Do you know the legend of a happy future as a couple? You and your partner have to go around the dolmen in the opposite direction. Count the stones and come up with the same number. How many stones there really are was unfortunately not revealed to us. The official information on the number of stones is also allegedly incorrect.
Camille gives us a special tip, the guided tours on the Feenfelsen give us: “You absolutely have to come back in winter. At sunrise, the rising sun shines right into the entrance. That looks great!"
At the entrance there is a small visitor center with information for anyone who would like to find out more about dolmens and the region.
We continue straight to St. Malo, where we spend the night at the Hôtel Les Charmettes.
Saint-Malo - old pirate nest of the corsairs
Côte d'Emeraude (Emerald Coast) is the name of the stretch of coast on which the city of Saint-Malo, with around 48,000 inhabitants, is located.
Saint-Malo was once feared by Dutch and English merchant ships, because the city was home to notorious corsairs, especially Robert Surcouf. He was so successful on his forays that he was able to retire at the age of 35.
The old town, surrounded by water on three sides, within the fortress wall (Remparts) is very touristy, but forms the heart of Saint-Malo. This “Ville Close” inspires me. Surrounded by golden sandy beaches and islands that you can visit on foot at low tide, I am fascinated by the alleys.
I keep looking at the sea, shining in shades of green and blue. Then I go to the massive wall and take a walk around the fortress. From here you have the best views of the old town, sea and harbor.
The skull flag is waving everywhere and spreads the charm of the former corsair stronghold. Exactly my thing!
Our accommodation, the Hôtel Les Charmettes, is located outside the tourist center on the long beach (at low tide) and coastal path with sea views. I like it here so much that I would love to stay longer: the location, the view, the food and the decor.
During dinner on the terrace with a sea view, we can experience the most impressive tidal range in Europe up close. Every minute the sea retreats meter by meter. The ebb is coming. Wow, how should the first day be surpassed?
- Tip for an accommodation in Saint-Malo: Hotel Les Charmettes. Great accommodation with a terrace on the beach promenade and breakfast room with a view of the sea. Outside the touristic old town and therefore much quieter and more beautiful (in my eyes). The historic old town can be reached quickly by car.
- Old town of Saint-Malo: If you are visiting at low tide, you can walk to one of the small offshore islands. Fort du Petit Bé or Fort Grand Bé are available. From there you have a great view of the old town located higher up.
Kayak tour in the Bréhat archipelago (Ploubazlanec)
After a 2-hour drive from Saint-Malo, we reach the Pôle Nautique Loguivy de la Mer in Ploubazlanec. After a short briefing, it's off to the beach. Equipped with a kayak and paddle, we start our kayak tour around the small islands of the Bréhat archipelago.
These small islands are often only visible at low tide. The destination is the La Croix lighthouse. Since we start quite late, we have to hurry, because the tide comes quickly and with full force, says Florian our guide.
So let's paddle as much as we can. I tend to be one-sided. The mixture of strong winds, a lot of currents and swell makes me drift in the wrong direction when our always visible destination is.
Despite the effort, I don't forget to take a closer look at the islets and birds flying around. When we arrive at the La Croix lighthouse, we leave the kayaks and pull them up a few meters. Because I also quickly understood that the sea quickly pulls back the land mass when the tide sets in. We go to a platform at the foot of the lighthouse and enjoy the view of the mainland and the Bréhat archipelago. I'm surprised how far the mainland is from here.
In the tower itself there is not much to see other than a nautical map, pictures and the old light. We can't go all the way to the top. But we can't stay too long anyway, because the water is at least two meters higher after just 30 minutes! These forces of nature impress me again and again!
So we slowly paddle back to the starting point. We go around other islands and fight against increasing winds and higher waves. It becomes more and more unpredictable for me and I shrug twice in shock, but somehow I can catch myself and the kayak. I'm not capsizing. Again and again it seems to me as if a long arm is slowly pulling me back to the sea. But after the 3-hour tour I win and reach the beach happy and sweaty!
Guide Florian is proud of our group. What he didn't tell us at the beginning: At least one guest falls out of the kayak on this tour! Lucky!
Côte de Granit Rose (Pink Granite Coast)
The drive from Ploubazlanec to Perros-Guirec takes only an hour. Today's destination is at what is probably the most beautiful place on the Pink Granite Coast. Our accommodation, the Hôtel Saint-Guirec, is located directly on the Plage de Saint-Guirec. With low tide and good weather we could swim and kayak here in the beautiful bay. But it is raining and the wind is noticeably fresh.
Our accommodation is the perfect starting point for a hike along the Rosa Granti Coast. With its gigantic granite rocks, which supposedly glow pink and thus gave the coastline its name.
For me the rocks shine in shades of red and orange and often look like oversized sculptures or marbles that giants have thrown here. You can hike along the coast path GR34 (customs officers' path), which leads around the Breton coast, to the extensive sandy beach in Trestraou in around 1.5 hours.
The section from the beach in Saint-Guirec to the Mean Ruz lighthouse is particularly photogenic - which is a short 15-minute walk. Right on the beach you have a view of the picturesque Costaérès Castle. Once the second home of the German comedian Didi Hallervorden, which you could also rent for a 4-digit amount a day.
On the beach itself there is a small statue that you can only reach with dry feet at low tide. According to a legend, single women are supposed to stick a needle into the statue's nose (it can hardly be seen). If the needle withstands an ebb and flow phase, the woman should marry in the same year and be happy until the end of her life.
- Tip for accommodation in Saint-Guirec:Hotel Saint-Guirec
- Tip for galettes and crepes: Le Mao. Delicious galettes and crepes. Nice garden to sit outside.
- Bathing stalls: I liked it best at Plage de Trestrignel. The Plage de Trestrasou is more suitable for families, more spacious and offers beach activities (catamaran, SUP, ...). The Plage de Saint-Guirec right next to our hotel was small and cozy. There is even childcare with trampolines and swings.
After all, the sea shines turquoise from above:
Île de Batz - idyllic Atlantic island with Caribbean beaches
It is around 1.5 hours by car from Perros-Guirec to Roscoff. The ferries to the island of Île de Batz leave from here. We actually wanted to do another kayak tour here. Unfortunately, due to bad weather and strong winds, this has to be canceled today.
Therefore we take the ferry (duration of the crossing approx. 15 minutes) to the Île de Batz. The jetty to the boat leads far out into the sea. It is hard to believe that when we return it will be almost completely washed over by the tide and that we will be able to moor in the harbor. Here the boats lean against the quay wall as there is no water in the harbor. This tidal range in Brittany fascinates me every day.
Due to the Gulf Stream, the climate on Île de Batz is quite mild all year round. Therefore we find a Mediterranean vegetation with palm trees, cacti, flowering oleanders and hibiscus. I read in a flyer from the island that there are 20 fine sandy beaches here alone. And that on an island only 3.5 km long. Hence, this would be the ideal place for swimming and kayaking.
But instead of turquoise, the water shines dark blue today. The sky is gray and the fine sandy beaches are wet and deserted. It's still idyllic and beautiful. If we didn't have to get a ferry back to the mainland, I could cycle up and down the small alleys here for hours.
A reason for me to come back and explore the island when the weather is nice! You can rent a bike at the island's pier. The small Atlantic island with lighthouse and botanical garden Jardin Georges Delaselle is ideally explored by bike.
The "snake hole" is located on the west coast. This is a very rocky and windy stretch of coast where a dragon is said to have fallen into the sea.
Unfortunately we only made it to the botanical garden. Halfway to the lighthouse we had to turn back due to the increasing rain.
Fifteen minutes crossing and you are in another world! The enchanting island of Batz can be explored via its beautiful coastal paths. The island, which lives from fishing, vegetable growing and tourism, will enchant you with its mild climate and its wonderful tropical garden. Give yourself time to live to the rhythm of the island, enjoying its tranquility and the lush beauty of its vegetation.
The ferries to the island of Batz run several times a day throughout the year.You can find the exact times here.
- To the website with information on the timetable for the ferry from Roscoff to île de Batz
- Go to the website with a tide calendar for Roscoff
- Botanical garden Jardin Georges Delaselle: Open from April to October from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission: 5 euros.
- Kayak tours from Roscoff at Center Nautique Roscoff, Duration approx. 2.5 hours, costs 27 euros
- Rent a bike on the Île de Batz: 1 day € 10, 1 hour € 3, 2 hours € 5
For some, Finistère is the end of the world (lat. "Finis Terrae"), for us it is the western end of Brittany. And that's beautiful!
Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time for the trip here. We would have liked to have stopped much more often. If you have the time and the weather is right, you should take your time and explore the road along the coast. Unfortunately we had fog and rain.
Pointe Saint-Mathieu, Crozon Peninsula
You can get to Saint-Mathieu either via the coastal road (approx. 3 hours) or via the faster inland route, which takes only 1.5 hours. Since it is still raining and very foggy, the arithmetic game is unnecessary and we take the shorter route.
You can visit the lighthouse and its small museum. A great way to start the day and take in the views of the coast and its sheer cliffs.
Le Conquet, Iroise Marine Nature Park, Île Molène
France's first national marine nature park covers 3550 square kilometers and includes a handful of islands in the Mer d‘Iroise, the intersection of the English Channel and the open Atlantic.
The water is very rough, the current treacherous and many wrecks on the sea floor are evidence of this. More than 120 species of fish - mammals such as dolphins and gray seals, some rare seabird species and over 300 species of algae - can be explored here. Therefore, today we take a trip on the blue Zodiac speedboat from Christel and Lucky from Le Conquet on the western tip of Finistère.
For the Romans the end of the world, for us a discovery of turquoise water, fine sandy beaches and endless expanses. Always surrounded by a stiff breeze.
We race over the waves at over 90 km / h! No pleasure when struggling with seasickness. Pure fun for me!
The current in this region is very dangerous and nowhere in the world is the density of lighthouses higher than here! We also get to feel the force of the sea (that's exactly what I like!). But both of them know exactly where the treacherous and dangerous spots are. They tell stories of storms, lighthouse keepers who endure lonely on the high seas and have to abseil if they want to go to the mainland by boat.
We see the lighthouse at Pointe Saint-Malo from the sea and the old abbey where our hotel is located.
We pass small islands that disappear at high tide. We discover on one of them Gray seals. Curiously they swim towards the boat and watch exactly what we are doing. Babies lie on the craggy rocks next to their massive mothers. So cute!
We drive on and pass the algae fishermen who “harvest” algae from the sea. This is possible thanks to a special crane. It looks really fun.
Lunch break with galettes on the Île Molène
At noon we anchor on the small island of Molène, which we explore on our own. You don't need bicycles here, because you can see the small island on foot. Around 150 people live here. There are small alleys and bays with a beach. But we got a tip from Christel for a small creperie, where we of course order galettes.
Then we drive to a lighthouse that stands on a ledge on the sea floor. The pull it creates and the towering waves are difficult to describe. You have to see it. It's incredibly fascinating - but also very dangerous. How is a boat supposed to dock at the lighthouse here? For me an impossibility.
Looking for dolphins
Christel and Lucky got it into their heads today that they absolutely want to show us dolphins and really do their best. We drive on and comb through the rough sea. The sun is also gracious and can finally be seen. We discover sandy beaches with the finest white shining sand on small islands. Wow, this is what the Caribbean looks like, and this is what Brittany looks like!
Unfortunately we have no luck even after another 1.5 hours. With a heavy heart we drive back to the port in Le Conquet. Christel apologizes for not finding anything despite working overtime. But let's be honest: this is life, we are not in the zoo! Sad and a shame for us, but that's the way it is. Incidentally, on 95% of the tours you can see the dolphins. We were the only tour in the last 6 weeks that didn't see any dolphins.
After returning, we stop for delicious seafood in Le Conquet. We really deserved it after this long and exciting day.
Crozon, Morgat, Cap de la Chevre, Pointe de Pen-Hir
We will end our road trip in the south of Brittany. The drive from Le Conquet to Crozon takes around 1.5 hours. In Telgruc-sur-mer we make a coffee stop and enjoy the wide white sandy beach. The campsite in particular has a great location here!
In Crozon let's eat galettes before we go after Cap de la Chèvre go on. We stop on the sloping coastal path and look at the turquoise water and the purple-shining heather. Finally the sun is shining and making the colors shine even more intensely.
At the Pointe de Pen-Hir I find another highlight of this trip: I climb the rocks along the coast on a path. To my left is a wide bay with a beautiful sandy beach, clear water and an anchored sailboat. I want to stay here!
But our time is running out. I continue along the path and come to steep cliffs, two people who climb them equipped with climbing equipment (I want to!) And a view that is just amazing! Brittany, I love you! Unfortunately we have to go, because we have a date:
A sailing trip by catamaran at sunset with lots of seafood
What is better on the last evening than a sailing tour with the catamaran at sunset? That's right, a sailing trip and the best food from Brittany: oysters, crabs, mussels, king prawns, shrimps, spider crabs and everything the sea has to offer! It doesn't get any fresher! We drink cool white wine with it.
Erwan is our skipper. He made his dream come true and bought this luxury catamaran. When he's not traveling with friends and family, he runs sunset tours. A dream!
We cast off in the port of Morgat and sail for about 1.5 hours along the coast towards Cap de la Chèvre. Halfway through the time, Erwan unpacks the platter with the finest seafood. The other guests (all French) explain to us how we crack all the animals or their shells and which are the best pieces of them. Because I have spider crab e.g. never eaten. I am also new to snail clams. The tool for it too. After all, I've known how to open oysters since Australia. Delicious!
At sunset we pull out the cameras and enjoy every moment in this beautiful place.
Drive to Brest and return
The next morning we only have the drive to Brest to start our journey home via Paris to Germany. What a shame, because I would have loved to have stayed much longer! So my tip to everyone: Plan at least 7-10 days for the north coast of Brittany!
Culinary highlights in Brittany
For lovers of pleasure there is nowhere better or fresher from the sea. If you don't normally like oysters, you have to strike here. They taste better and less like the "sea". Mussels in white wine sauce or shrimp also taste divine here!
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