Beautiful Brittany: 12 Adventures Across the Channel

Seeking tranquillity amid lush green landscapes and emerald shores? Make a beeline for Brittany by ferry, uncover its secret spots and enjoy a micro-adventure against the backdrop of breathtaking nature.

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Ticked off the usual French tourist hotspots and seeking a fun alternative? If you're on the hunt for an authentic destination packed with surprises, it's time to bask in the glory of Brittany. It's practically on our doorstep, but can easily fly under the radar. Yet it's an activity-packed destination with seafood joints lining the shores, hidden caves housing crystal-clear waters, plus world-class surf and secret forests.

12 bite-sized adventures in Brittany, France

A sunset over Pissot Cove in Brittany, France
Photo credit: Thibault Poriel

Get lost in Pissot Cove

A heavenly beach where your pedi glistens beneath the clear sea? Count us in. In this (almost) secret paradise, tranquil shores are fringed by lush greenery and you're far from the crowds. Nestled between the port of Dahouët and the large sandy beach of Val-André, this is the under-the-radar place for taking a dip and basking in sunshine, before pottering along the Douaniers path down to the little Dahouët marina to toast a day well spent. Zip across the channel via Brittany Ferries to Saint Malo and embark on a leisurely one-hour drive to this glittering seaside escape.

Photo credit: BestJobers

Coast along the canal

Swap the coast for the canal and venture through 48 locks from the medieval town of Dinan to the tavern-filled Breton capital of Rennes. There's plenty to soak up along the way, including Combourg Castle, where writer Châteaubriand was born, and the photogenic town of Hédé-Bazouges. Hire a bike from lockkeeper's house L'Ille Flottante and pedal along the Ille-et-Rance canal to Bazouges lake.

Photo credit: Bernard Galéron

Meet the makers in Quimper

Packed with history, artisans and movie-star quality, Quimper may well look familiar. The neighbourhood of Locronan has been the setting for more than 30 films thanks to its picture-perfect streets, granite houses and bustling main square - it's little wonder so many craftspeople have settled here. The Locmaria district is a hotspot for creators and makers, from embroiderers to brewers, many of whom will welcome you into their studios. Kick things off in this creative hub with brunch on the quays at Le Sistrot. The restaurant, run by brothers Erwan and Ronan Gire, who returned to their home town following six years in Montréal, is known for its sublime seasonal cuisine and cider.

Immerse yourself in art and craftsmanship

There's plenty of art and culture to enjoy in Brittany, and combining this experience with the great outdoors is a joy. In Piré-Chancé, a 25-minute drive from Rennes, lies Château des Pères - a manor-turned-gallery with delightful gardens to frolic in. A day spent enjoying its sculpture park and grounds is one well spent. You can immerse yourself further by trying a pottery class or dabbling in a spot of woodworking or paper craft. There are even stonework and metalsmith classes on offer. Spend the night in the newly opened tree-shaped on-site hotel, which is an architectural feat in itself. Indulge in the avant garde flavours of the two new restaurants on this magnificent estate to seal the deal on your cultural extravaganza.

Photo credit: Teddy Verneuil

Find an enchanted forest

Channel your own David Attenborough moment at Huelgoat forest in Finistère. Home to Celtic legends and jaw-dropping rock formations, with The Argent river meandering through, it makes for a mystical day out. The nearby village has a cute café-bookshop called Sur La Route and a summer venue for art and culture in the former Girls' School.

Surfing at La Torche, Brittany

Soak up the surf

Fancy a 48-hour surf break? We've got you. Apparently, kitesurfing first kicked off in Douarnenez Bay in the 1980s so boardsports reign strong here. La Torche in South Finistère is a hotspot for surfers: At the foot of Quiberon's Wild Coast, this is where you will unearth a powerful swell and strong waves while in Santec, North Finistère, Dossen beach is a windsurfers' retreat. Grab a bite at the ESB Shop & Café in Plouharnel afterwards. As the sun goes down there is live music at Coota in Erdeven (Morbihan) with its kitesurf-sail decor or Le Café Local in Combrit (Finistère) where all the surfers hang out.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock / Mescioglu

Buckwheat the trend

When it comes to Brittany's signature produce, butter tends to steal the spotlight, but buckwheat is our secret foodie favourite. Not only is it highly nutritious, but super-tasty, too. Head to Fougères and step into La Maison du Sarrasin (the House of Buckwheat) to savour the flavours of organic buckwheat flour. This powerful plant is used to great effect in salted-butter caramel, standout coffee, homemade ice cream, biscuits, pasta and pancakes - all ready to enjoy on the spot or pop in your shopping bag. After getting your buckwheat fix, take a stroll around the town, which is nestled at the foot of the largest fortified château in Europe, to enjoy the charm of the half-timbered houses and cobbled streets.

Photo credit: Alexandre Lamoureux

Go gourmet in Guérande

Guérande and its peninsula is a haven for foodies. We are talking seaweed caviar from Croisic, Breton lobster, kouign-amann (butter cake) with Guérande salt, crispy crêpes… Is your mouth watering yet? Start with a culinary-themed trek through the marshes of Brière and Guérande then saunter to La Baule. This chic beach town is dotted with Belle Epoque villas, cute boutiques and a picturesque embankment next to a long sandy beach. Le Billot and La Table de Saint-Christophe are local dinner favourites.

Photo credit: Alexandre Lamoureux

Seek out the sparkling lighthouse

For a magical maritime micro-adventure, it's all about the Côte des Abers. The dramatic coastline, with its sprawling greenery, will take you back to nature in the most beautiful way. A clifftop walk along the coastline blends rocks, sand dunes and creeks, while majestic lighthouses make the panoramic views sparkle. Looking out onto the waters, dotted with colourful boats and yachts, you'll feel a world away from city life. It's worth the 365 steps to reach the top of the Île Vierge lighthouse; an 82.5m-tall granite tower embellished with opaline glass. You'll be rewarded with the best outlook.

Photo credit: Emmanuel Berthier

Take it slow from Quimper to Bénodet

Relax alongside the peaceful banks of the Odet River whose waterways, from Quimper to Bénodet, are lined with history-rich castles, avant-garde mansions and sun-dappled forests. Earning the moniker of "most beautiful river in France", we recommend hiring a paddleboard to cruise down the estuary. Make sure to stop by the maritime town of Quimper. Situated at the bottom of the estuary and born from its link with the sea, here you'll immerse yourself in the importance of the River Odet. After a day spent splashing around, pitch up at cute-as-a-button guesthouse, 46 Bretagne. Located in the small village of Bénodet, it's an ideal stopover for those seeking a slice of the slow life. The zero-waste bolthole has also earned the coveted European Ecolabel, an accolade that celebrates the hotel's commitment to green initiatives.

Photo credit: Alexandre Lamoureux

Go kayaking in Île-aux-Pies

A mosaic of marshes and islands named after birds awaits at Ile aux Pies, 10km from La Gacilly. Bathed in light with views of the cliffs plunging into the River Oust, this gem on the Nantes-Brest canal is a protected site that packs a punch. It's ideal for rock-climbing and kayak outings so makes a fun spot for holidaying with pals who love the great outdoors. Cycling, canoeing, treetop adventures and a day at the beach are all up for grabs.

Photo credit: Eugenie Ragot

Seek out culture at Saint-Brieuc

Saint-Brieuc offers a winning blend of culture and coast. In the historic town centre, the stone and half-timbered houses surround the fortress cathedral. Narrow streets are kitted out with 30s art deco mosaic facades by Odorico alongside modern-day street art, all set against the backdrop of cliff faces, slipways, dunes and moors. The showstopper is the Saint-Yves Chapel, where cubist forms, intricate mosaics and fresco paintings come together in a magnificent display.

Know before you go

Where to stay: From chic, eco-friendly hotels to slow-travel surf camps, fabulous villas and glamping, there is plenty of characterful accommodation available. For a comprehensive list, browse

When to visit: We recommend straying from the obvious months and heading to Brittany in spring or autumn, when there's a more tranquil ambience and the light is at its best over this glorious coastline.

How to get there: Hop aboard Brittany Ferries for an adventure that starts the moment you set sail. Soak up the views, spot dolphins from the deck, then walk, cycle or drive straight from the ferry into the heart of Brittany to continue your micro-adventure.

The Lowdown

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The half-timbered architecture of Rennes, Brittany
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