FRENCH BRETAGNE - road trip
8 DAYS - 1098 KM
Eight days travelling around the French Bretagne to visit and discover all its hidden and beautiful villages and towns of this region. These are the places we visited:
MAYOR CITIES: Vannes, Quimper, Saint-Brieuc, Saint-Malo, Saint-Michel, Rennes and Nantes.
LITTLE TOWNS: Rochefort en Terre, Locronan, Pont-Aven, Saint-Guirec, Frehel, Dinard, Dinan, Fougères and Vitre.
ROCHEFORT EN TERRE
Rochefort en Terre is a small village on the way to Vannes from Nantes. I recommend you to stop and walk around it. One or two hours is enough to visit it.
It has a main square with creperies and restaurants. The church of the village is called Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye and its history is very interesting. Also, I recommend to visit the Castle Park Rochefort en Terre, and walk around its gardens. From there you can see the view of the village which is nice because you see all the roofs and it feels like you are in another century.
What I like the most about Rochefort was the Chapelle Saint-Michel de la Grêle, that is a small chapel in the middle of nature, beautiful to visit in spring time. It is located at the end of the village, but it's worth walking there.
Chapelle Saint-Michel de la Grêle, Rochefort en Terre
Coming from a small town like Rochefort, you can see that Vannes is a bigger city and busier.
Many people live there and the center has many shops and cafeterias. It is a very nice city because it houses are colourful and different, characterised by its wooden structures.
It also has different castles such as Château-Gaillard or Château de l'Hermine, that have amazing gardens with many flowers during spring time.
To the south is the port, where there are numerous restaurants and boats that cross the Gulf of Morbihan. We had dinner in a place called Moulin du Roy, that I recommend because the food was very nice and the portions were very generous.
PONT-AVEN & LOCRONAN
Pont-Aven is known as the city of the painters, probably due to its landscapes, as nature melts with the small town.
It is located on the way from Vannes to Quimper, so if you are doing this route, I recommend a quick stop and visit it. One or two hours is enough to visit. A walk by the river is very nice. There many galleries that sell paintings from artists that have passed by the little town.
Locronan is located in the north of Quimper, only 20 min driving. It is a "stone" town because most of its buildings are made of stone. It is very very small, so an hour walk or even less it is enough to see the main part of it.
In the main square it has restaurants and the cathedral. We had lunch in a little creperie called Les 3 fées, where the waitress was very nice and gave us some tips about Quimper city, that we were visiting afterwards.
Crêperie in Locronan Pont - Aven river
Quimper can be similar to Vannes, in terms that is bigger and more people live there. It is busier, there are people in the streets and many shops, which is different to little towns like Locronan.
It has a river that crosses the city, the river Odet. It has wooden houses as well, typical from this region of France, and also big buildings made of stone. The cathedral of Saint Corentin de Quimper is very beautiful, mainly from outside where is located in a big square. I recommend to walk around the city and get lost around its streets.
Twenty minutes driving from Quimper, there is a little coast village called Bénodet. We went to explore it and were surprised because it is very nice and it has a beach and a little harbour. We had dinner in a seafood restaurant called La Croisette that is next to the sea and it was very cozy.
Cathedral of Saint Corentin de Quimper & Bénodet
THE PINK COAST
From Quimper, we drove up to Trebeurden, the first town we stopped in the Pink Coast.
The road until there it was beautiful, it crosses a natural park called Parc Naturel Regional d'Armorique. We stopped by to take some pictures and enjoy nature, as the road was surrounded by many colza fields.
The Pink Coast is named like that due to the colour of its rocks, which are pink-red and the shore has this main colour. There we stopped in Trebeurden, Île Grande, Tregastel and Saint - Guirec. The beach I liked the most was Saint-Guirec, however this day the weather was not the best... so we could not really enjoy this amazing area of the Bretagne. I recommend to visit all these little towns if you enjoy nature and sea.
Saint - Guirec Beach
SAINT - BRIEUC
Saint - Brieuc was a bit disappointing for us, maybe because we got there on a Sunday evening and the city looked like a ghost town. The streets were completely empty, the shops closed, and there was not much to see or visit over there. I recommend to skip it and visit other places, but I might be biased due to my experience.
As we didn't have anything to do in the city, after walking around, we drove down to the sea, which was good because there is a lighthouse, Phare De Saint Laurent De La Mer, at the end of the road that was nice, and also you can see how the river melts in the sea. Go for a walk over there, is very relaxing and the landscape is beautiful.
Phare De Saint Laurent De La Mer, Saint - Brieuc
FREHEL, DINARD, SAINT-MALO & DINAN
This day we did a lot, and it was very nice because we combined many different things. We started the day going to Cap Fréhel. It was a bit cloudy but I can tell you that the area is very nice and there is a huge lighthouse close to the cliffs.
Cap Fréhel view
Once we visited the Cap Fréhel, we drove to Dinard. The sky opened up and it was sunny and warm, which helped us to enjoy Dinard, that is a town with a beautiful seaside walk and lovely houses from past centuries that I recommend you to visit. They are private properties, but you can walk around the streets and see them.
After Dinard, we went to Saint-Malo. Here we could already feel the tourism. The historic area of Saint-Malo is a small village within a fort. I recommend to walk around its streets and visit the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent, it is beautiful.
Also, go to the Bastion de la Hollande, where you can sit and relax with the view of the sea in front of you. And finally, before leaving the city, walk until the end of the village to the Phare Môle des Noires, from where you can see the whole city behind.
Saint - Malo city
Dinan is a little medieval town close to Dinard and Saint-Malo. If you have time, I highly recommend you to visit it. Walking around its streets feels like getting lost in the past. We were lucky and went there for sunset time, it was very good becuase the houses and streets got a very nice golden colour and the village felt very cozy.
Streets of Dinan at sunset time
MONT SAINT - MICHEL
About Saint-Michel there are not many new things that I could say. It is the most known and the main tourist attraction of the area, although is part of Normandy and not of the Bretagne.
So I would just give you few very useful tips:
During the day and common times, it is FULL of tourists, in terms that can be stressful walking around. Thus, I recommend to go after 7pm (in spring/summer time), because it is almost empty, you can visit it quietly.
Also, from 7pm, the parking price is cheaper: 14€ vs. 4,50€.
Truth is that the Abbey won't be open, but during the day is that full of people, that (in my opinion) is not worth to visit it. You cannot enjoy it or visit it properly.
If you like photography, this is also the best time to take pictures without people and calmly. There is a fence in the down part where the buses stop that it is easy to jump, and you can take nice pictures of the landscape from the sea area that must be dry for you to go.
Mont Saint Michel: Afternoon vs. Evening
Important to mention: there are more things to explore in Saint-Michel apart from the mont. Very close and on the way to Saint Michel you can find the Moulin de Moidrey, which is nice to visit and you can see the Milky Way during the night if the sky is clear and there isn't a full moon.
FOUGÈRES & VITRÉ
On the way down from Saint-Michel to Rennes, we stopped in Fougères and Vitré, two little towns that everyone recommended us.
Fougères has a beautiful church on top with gardens (Eglise Saint-Léonard), and from there you can see the rest of the city. Downtown it has a castle (Château de Fougères), that is nice to see from outside, but in my opinion is not worth it getting in. Also, the Église Saint-Sulpice de Fougères is nice to visit it. If you go there at lunch time, having a crêpe in the square in front of the castle can be very nice.
On the other hand, Vitré also has a big castle in a big square: Château de Vitré. The Église Notre-Dame de Vitré and Église Saint-Martin de Vitré are beautiful as well. What I liked the most about Vitré was its colourful-medieval houses, you can see them in along its narrow streets, although the nicest ones are in the Place Saint-Yves.
Houses in Place Saint-Yves, Vitré
Before finishing the post, just two more tips to give you:
TIP I: I recommend to do this trip during spring time, that is when all the little towns and cities look beautiful due to the flowers and trees. And also because the weather is acceptable and the sunset is late.
TIP II: For this trip, is very convenient to rent a car, other wise is hard to reach all the places and towns named here. If you plan to rent a car, try to do it on airports, it is cheaper than renting it in the city.
Thanks for reading. Do not hesitate to ask anything you want :)