The Côte d’Emeraude or Emerald coast stretches from the Mont St Michel round to Dinard offering sandy beaches and rocky outcrops. St Malo’s old town is completely surrounded by ancient granite ramparts and is renowned for its cobbled streets and tall stone houses built by 18th century ship owners. The town’s Aquarium is a good choice for a rainy day. The town looks out over the river Rance to Dinard, a fashionable resort with a fine sheltered beach of golden sand. The bay of Cancale east of St Malo is famous for its succulent oysters and mussels.
Morlaix has a rich history dating back to the Romans and is characterised by half-timbered houses and a massive two-storey railway viaduct, towering 60m over the river below.
Tréguier has a Gothic cathedral and broad river quayside.
Dinan is a magical town protected by 75m high ramparts and by the Château de la Duchesse Anne which overlook the Rance river. Its medieval charm is still evident in the picturesque cobbled streets, particularly the Rue d’Horloge with its belfry and 15th and 16th century houses. The old commercial port has been replaced by a pretty yachting harbour.
Dol-de-Bretagne is a charming market town with quaint streets and shops dominated by an imposing 13th century granite cathedral.
Combourg is a pretty lakeside town with a mighty feudal castle.
Western Brittany where the village churches and chapels have spiky pinnacles is the most typically Breton part of the region. The further west you go, the more rugged the countryside becomes until you reach the dramatic Point du Raz. Between this most westerly point of mainland France and the Baie de Douarnenez are some of the most impressive rocks and cliffs in Brittany. The bay offers plenty of sandy beaches as well as being a major fishing area. The Crozon Peninsula just south of Brest offers a series of imposing landscapes with fabulous views of rugged cliffs and pretty fishing harbours.
Locronan is a small town of historical interest lined with granite stone houses. The rich 16th and 17th century dwellings surrounding the square have frequently been used for French film sets. Many craftsmen have set up their shops inside the old walls of the town.
Quimper the administrative capital of Western Brittany is a focal point of traditional Breton culture. It is famous for its pottery and hosts the annual “Festivale de Cornouaille” during the week preceding the fourth Sunday of July. It is a great town to explore on foot as the quays along the Odet river are dotted with numerous bridges and footbridges. At the centre is the splendid twin-spired St Corentin cathedral and the streets of the old town still keep their medieval names.
Bénodet is a picturesque seaside resort in a wooded setting at the mouth of the Odet river. It has a lively atmosphere, good cafés and bars, with excellent sandy beaches.
Beg Meil, Cap Coz, La Forêt Fouesnant, Mousterlin and Pont l’Abbé are all coastal towns with great beaches and definitely worth a visit in their own right.
Concarneau is famous for its ancient ramparts and is still an important fishing port. The 14th century “Ville Clos” is an island in the middle of the harbour linked by two bridges.
Pont Aven is a delightful old port situated at the mouth of the Aven river known throughout the world as the town of artists. American painters set up studios here in the 1860s and were soon followed by artists of all nationalities including Gauguin and Emile Bernard.
Southern Brittany enjoys a huge stretch of gentle coastline and numerous offshore islands. It offers a mild climate and delightful sandy beaches
La Trinité although still a thriving fishing port is Brittany’s most popular marina and hosts colourful regattas during the summer months. The charming little town has a network of pretty streets. Great views over the harbour and Crac’h river can be enjoyed from the Kérisper bridge.
Carnac famous not just for its beaches but also for its ancient standing stones or “menhirs”, standing 6m – 22m high in rows “alignements” or groups forming circles.
Auray has an attractive harbour and beautiful houses dating from the 15th century. The 14th century château in Josselin with four pepper pot towers is one of the most beautiful in Brittany.
La Baule is completely different from any other resort in Brittany, as its 5km curve of excellent beach is the largest in Europe. Behind the seafront, tree-lined avenues house attractive olde-worlde hotels, once frequented only by the wealthy.
Le Croisic is a busy fishing and sailing harbour and an excellent place to sample locally raised oysters and shellfish.
Guérande on the edge of the Parc Naturel de Brière is a perfectly preserved medieval town with magnificent walls and tiny cobbled streets.
Pénestin, Piriac and La Turballe are all worth a visit and a trip over the Pont St Nazaire spanning the Loire estuary is highly recommended.
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