Best things to do in Brittany
Ready to discover the best places to visit in Brittany, France? Let’s get started!
1. Rochefort-en-Terre, one of the most beautiful villages
To begin our journey through the best of Brittany, let’s start with Rochefort-en-Terre. This charming little village is considered one of the most beautiful in France. It’s a must-see place on your trip to Brittany. Being a very small town (with just a few streets and hundreds of inhabitants), you can explore it in its entirety. However, don’t be fooled by its size; Rochefort-en-Terre hides many picturesque hidden gems worth photographing.
Begin visiting this town by strolling along the main avenue and exploring the streets that branch off from it. You won’t be able to help but admire the ancient houses found here. Follow the path until you reach the Place du Puits, one of the places you can’t miss in Rochefort-en-Terre. Also, be sure to visit the Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchaye Church.
After enjoying some crêpes (the village is full of crêperies everywhere), visit the Rochefort-en-Terre Castle. It’s well worth walking through its gardens and entering the small chapel of Saint-Jean.
2. Visiting Josselin, one of the best things to do in Brittany
Another town that should not be missing from your list of best places to visit in Brittany is Josselin. This locality stands out for its impressive castle, which dates back to the 11th century when one of the counts of Rennes built the first castle. To enjoy some great views of it, I recommend strolling along the canal.
Once you are done admiring this imposing fortress, venture into the heart of the village to explore its charming streets. Don’t miss the Basilica of Our Lady of Roncier and the timber-framed houses painted in different colors located nearby.
3. Vannes, one of the most beautiful cities in Brittany
Although we didn’t spend much time in Vannes, it was enough to grasp the beauty of this French city. It’s a walled municipality with cobbled streets. The place that surprised me the most and that I highly recommend visiting is Place Henri IV, a square surrounded by vibrantly colored half-timbered houses. It’s a true gem!
Other sites in Vannes that you should not miss include the Remparts of Vannes (a fortress with medieval towers and gates) and its gardens, the Basilica Cathedral of Saint Peter, the Hermine Castle, and the Saint Vincent Gate. Be sure to take a stroll around Vannes Harbor and enjoy a drink on one of the lively streets nearby.
Around a 20-minute drive from Vannes lies the Gulf of Morbihan. Instead of having dinner in Vannes, we opted for a local seafood restaurant named Captain Marée. Situated by the gulf, you can indulge in oysters while relishing an idyllic landscape. I highly recommend it!
4. Carnac Stones: a unique place to visit in Brittany, France
A peculiar site to see in Brittany, France, is the Carnac Alignments. This is a collection of rocks of varying sizes, aligned in rows across a meadow. It is known to have been erected between the 5th and 3rd millennia BC, though the exact purpose remains unknown. Naturally, various theories have arisen regarding its significance.
These megalithic alignments constitute the world’s most extensive prehistoric monument. At the site, you will find an information center called Maison des Mégalithes, where you can learn all that is known about this monument. Admission is free.
5. The petite maison of Saint-Cado
One of the most charming places in French Brittany is the Petite Maison of Saint-Cado. To see this picturesque little house, you first need to reach the charming village of Saint-Cado, located by the Etel River. Part of the village is situated on a small islet that is connected to the mainland via the Saint Cado Bridge.
One of the most captivating spots in this village is a tiny house positioned on a small piece of land in the middle of the bay, known as the Petite Maison of Saint-Cado. It was built in 1894 and used to be the home of the oyster farm’s watchman. Can you imagine what it would be like to sleep in such a place?
During our visit here, we took the opportunity to dine at a restaurant called Les Algues Marines. The establishment, situated by the river, boasts a small terrace, allowing you to enjoy a very cozy meal. Here, we had our first moules frites of the trip. Everything was absolutely delicious!
6. Château de Keriolet, near the village of Concarneau
On the outskirts of a coastal village called Concarneau, which I also recommend visiting, you’ll find the Château of Keriolet, a 13th-century neo-Gothic castle. After passing through various owners, the current proprietors have chosen to open the castle to the public to help maintain it. The entrance fee is €7.50. We simply took a stroll around the castle’s surroundings, which can be done free of charge. It’s well worth it!
After visiting the castle, if you have the time, make your way to the center of Concarneau, a walled seaside village.
7. Locronan, the most beautiful village in Brittany
I don’t know if it’s the most beautiful village in Brittany, but it was definitely my favorite. The moment I set foot in Locronan, I felt like I was in a different era. Wandering through the cobblestone streets of this village while gazing at the ancient stone houses is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Brittany, France. Don’t miss out on the Church of Saint-Ronan, the cemetery, and the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle.
8. Pointe du Raz
Pointe du Raz is a headland located in the Finistère department, at the westernmost tip of Brittany. Here, a series of rugged cliffs meet the Iroise Sea, gifting those who visit a picturesque natural scene. In the distance, amid small islets and waves, the Vieille Lighthouse stands perched on a rock, built in the late 19th century.
It’s a great place to watch the sunset. On clear days, you can see the island of Sein and the Ar Men Lighthouse from here.
9. Point de Dinan, a natural paradise in Brittany
One of the natural outings I enjoyed the most during my time in this French region was Point de Dinan. A series of trails wind through this headland, allowing visitors to enjoy a walk with incredible sea views, cliffs, beaches, and various rock formations, including a small natural cave. It’s possible to do a circular route. I recommend allocating about an hour for it.
10. Petit Minou Lighthouse – What to do in Brittany, France
Did you know that Brittany is filled with beautiful lighthouses? My favorite was the Petit Minou Lighthouse, built in the mid-19th century. This lighthouse stands at a height of 26 meters and is perched atop a series of rocks. It’s connected to the mainland by a charming stone bridge, offering lovely views of the surroundings. At the site, you’ll also find a fort and a spectacular beach.
11. Kermorvan Lighthouse, located in Le Conquet Village
Another lighthouse that I loved was Kermorvan Lighthouse, situated in the Breton town of Le Conquet. It stands at a height of 20 meters and was built in 1849. Perched on rocks at the tip of the Kermorvan Peninsula, it’s connected to the mainland by a granite bridge. To reach it, you’ll need to take a short hike from the parking area. It takes around 15 minutes.
12. Roscoff and the Island of Batz
Another charming Breton village is Roscoff. In the 19th century, this coastal town experienced significant economic prosperity due to maritime trade. Fabrics, salt, wood, and onions were exported to England from here. This affluence is reflected in Roscoff’s infrastructure, particularly in its stately granite houses.
Be sure to take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets of Roscoff’s historic center. Additionally, from this town, you can catch a ferry to the island of Batz. This island is perfect for exploring by foot or bike along its coastal paths. A tranquil ambiance prevails, with breathtaking natural spots to discover. Don’t miss out on the Grève Blanche beach.
13. Pink Granite Coast, a unique landscape of Brittany, France
Another intriguing place to see in Brittany, France, is the renowned Pink Granite Coast. Along the coastline near the town of Lannion, you’ll encounter massive clusters of pink granite rocks. The most popular way to explore this area is by foot, along the customs officer’s path (GR-34). You can also visit by bicycle, or even better, venture into the water with a kayak or paddleboard.
14. Beauport Abbey, discover the ruins of this historic building
This place is not one of the most well-known places in Brittany, but I really enjoyed it. That’s why I recommend making time in your itinerary to visit Beauport Abbey, located in the municipality of Paimpol.
It’s an ancient 13th-century abbey founded by a local count, who handed over the religious building to monks to help it prosper. However, in the second half of the 18th century, it began to decline. Today, it lies in ruins, adding a touch of mysticism and mystery to this enigmatic spot.
An interesting fact about this place is that it used to be the starting point for pilgrims in Brittany heading to Santiago de Compostela.
15. Saint-Malo and its walled historic center
The walled old town of Saint-Malo is another of the most beautiful places to visit in Brittany. To begin exploring this city in the best way possible, I recommend taking a stroll along the walls of Saint-Malo. From there, you get a wonderful perspective of the facades and rooftops of the historic center and beautiful views of the sea and beaches.
Once you’ve finished walking on the walls, the best thing you can do is venture into the heart of Saint-Malo and explore as many narrow streets as you can. You can also take a walk by the harbor or, if you’re visiting during the warmer months, bathe on one of the city’s beaches.
16. Cancale: an ideal destination for eating oysters in Brittany
Cancale is a small village popular for its oyster farms, thus offering numerous restaurants and stalls to enjoy oysters. If you want to taste them or even try them for the first time, Cancale is the perfect place to do so. I recommend trying them at the Marché aux Huîtres de Cancale. The village itself is also quite charming. Even if you’re not going to partake in seafood, it’s worth a visit to take a stroll through the streets near the beach.
17. Dinan, a must-see in Brittany
After visiting several towns in Brittany, I thought no other could surprise me. It was upon arriving in Dinan that I realized how mistaken I was. This small medieval city is brimming with hidden gems, each one more beautiful and unique than the last. From the Clock Tower to Dinan Castle, passing through its 13th-century walls and picturesque half-timbered houses, Dinan awaits to astonish you at every step you take.
18. Fougères and Europe’s largest fortress
Fougères is a charming medieval village nestled on the banks of the Nançon River. What will capture your attention as you begin your visit to Fougères is its large castle, adorned with towers and walls, boasting a history of a thousand years. Don’t miss out on the Saint-Sulpice Church, the half-timbered houses, and the public garden.
19. Vitré, a town with over a thousand years of history
Eager to explore more medieval towns? If so, add Vitré to your itinerary in Brittany. This village boasts over a thousand years of history, making you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. The standout feature is the Vitré Castle, constructed in the 11th century. It played a crucial defensive role during the conflicts in Brittany. You’ll also be charmed by its half-timbered houses and ancient alleyways.
20. Rennes, the capital of Brittany (France)
Rennes, the capital of Brittany, is another genuine treasure. It serves as the cultural and economic hub of the region. It also stands out for its art, which dates back to the 1st century BC. Despite its centuries-old history, Rennes maintains a youthful atmosphere as it is a university city. Don’t miss the Palace of Parliament, Thabor Park, Saint Peter’s Cathedral, and the Rennes City Hall.
Where to stay in Brittany
Brittany is a vast region, and the distances between places are quite long. Therefore, to explore it thoroughly, you’ll need to stay in more than one location. In our case, we traveled in a camper and changed campsites every few nights. This allowed us to explore the surroundings of each spot, and during our journeys, we took advantage of the opportunity to visit places situated between our two lodgings.
Below, I provide the number of nights we spent in each location, so you can get an idea:
- Vannes surroundings: 2 nights. Search for hotels in Vannes.
- Douarnenez surroundings: 2 nights. Search for hotels in Douarnenez.
- Roscoff surroundings: 1 night. Search for hotels in Roscoff.
- Saint Malo surroundings: 3 nights. Search for hotels in Saint Malo.
Map of what to do in Brittany, France
On the following map of Brittany, I have marked all the places mentioned in this blog post. You can find them in the order they were mentioned. Additionally, I have highlighted other places to visit in Brittany that, while not included in this top 20, are also worth visiting. Feel free to add them to your itinerary through Brittany if you have enough time.
Mont Saint-Michel is one of the locations marked on the map. Although it belongs to Normandy, it’s located close to the Brittany region and is well worth a visit. It’s one of the most beautiful places to see in France.
Don’t miss my France travel guide for more information about this country.
I hope this blog post about top 20 things to do in Brittany has been very helpful in planning your trip to this beautiful region of France. If you want to share your experience or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me. Until next time!