Having spent three months in a small town on the edge of Bretagne (technically in Loire-Atlantique but who’s checking?) as part of my languages year abroad, I had the chance for some awesome day trips to some of the nearby towns and villages (before a second French lockdown cut my plans short). Bretagne or Brittany as we Brits call it is an absolutely beautiful yet sometimes forgotten region. There’s so much to see and do there I know I’ve only scratched the surface but here are some spots I think you should check out!
Known as the town of a thousand flowers and famous for being the home of Yves Rocher, this picturesque town is definitely worth a visit. As well as being a cute little town full of arts and crafts shops and adorable local businesses; this town is home to France’s largest outdoor photographic festival for 4 months of the year. Over the summer, from June to September the town is filled with photographic exhibits from a variety of themes and artists! It’s totally free to wander round and such a fascinating way to explore photography at the same time as exploring a physical place.
This year’s theme was Viva Latina so above you can see a small selection of the images from this year. This includes people, landscapes, animals and really gives you a sense of life in Latin America. You can find out more about this year’s exhibition on the website here.
Despite the fact it poured with rain for the entire time we were there, Vannes was still a charming old city. There’s so much to see and do in this city, as well as plenty of delicious crêperies to visit.
Picking up a map from the tourist office led us around all the key spots of the city including the carving of Vannes and his wife, the Château de l’Hermine with the photo exhibition, Place Henri IV, the historic centre, the cathedral and the ramparts. This is a city you could easily spend a day wandering around (and that’s only the walled city). Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see it all but the architecture was beautiful and I know the old town is only the beginning of what Vannes has to offer. The town has a port and not far away at all is the Golfe du Morhiban, with boats to travel in and beaches to relax on, if it’s a nicer day that I had.
Rennes is a city that is a strange yet enjoyable mix of the old and the new – from ancient buildings to high tech museums and gorgeous parks. We had plenty to visit as well as some classic Breton crepes and cider to enjoy.
I’d definitely recommend checking out the Parc du Thabor – a beautiful oasis of calm in the city full of beautiful plants and scenery. You should also visit The Parliament de Bretagne and the Cathedral St Pierre as well as the delicious crêperie opposite. La Place des Lices also has a great market on a Saturday morning as well as showing off some nice Breton architecture. There’s also the super modern Champs Libres which includes Rennes central library, the Brittany museum and a science centre with a planetarium.
Guerande, whilst a small town, is very worth a visit and is described as the Carcassonne of the North. It’s a little walled town with winding streets full of cute little shops and restaurants to explore. Since it’s a town full of history I’d definitely recommend you visit the town museum that gives you a brief overview and allows you up onto the ramparts to see out over the town. It’s actually one of the rare walled cities to have all of ramparts preserved.
Guerande is also famous for its salt marshes that I didn’t have the chance to visit but are definitely worth checking out! I did however pick up some salt from one of the hundreds of little tourist shops selling it! It’s almost impossible to leave Guerande without buying at least some salt.
Mont St Michel
Mont St Michel is probably the most well known of my list since it is a UNESCO world heritage site after all. There’s plenty to see and do and it’s definitely worth visiting. Make you wear some comfy shoes and are prepared for plenty of walking as the shuttle often has quite the queue so it’s faster to walk and you’ll need to climb plenty of steps to get to the abbey. It’s worthwhile paying the 10 or so euro to get into the abbey as there’s definitely plenty to see and admire. There are also lots of places to eat and shops to admire and browse in, so despite Mont St Michel only being little, it’s easy to spend a day there!
All in all, I’d definitely recommend spending a week in Bretagne, France and visiting some of these beautiful towns and cities in the region.
Have you visited any of these spots before?
Where else in Brittany would you recommend visiting?
Which spot would you most like to visit?