Life’s a beach… Never has a saying been more apt than when referring to Brittany. With around 2,730 km of varied coastline, Brittany, and its cluster of islands, enjoys around a third of the total shoreline of France. It’s no wonder that seaside activities and attractions abound in this wonderful region. We take a look at some of the most beautiful beaches in Brittany.
Old school charm – Brittany’s seaside resorts
With their distinctive old world atmosphere, many of Brittany’s resorts have retained all the charm of the Belle Epoque. Known for their beaches, lively markets and the elegance of their villas, they are the ideal places to enjoy an ice-cream or pre-dinner drink on the terrace. Take Dinard for example which, with its Belle Epoque villas and stripy beach tents. It’s like taking a trip back to the 19th century. Made popular by British and American visitors, Dinard was once France’s top summer resort until the French Riviera took over that mantle in the 1930s. Nearby, Saint-Briac and Saint-Lunaire are well worth a visit as are Saint-Cast-le Guildo and Saint-Jacut.
Every Autumn, Dinard hosts Le Festival du Film Britannique or The Festival of British Cinema. No sub-titles are needed as all the films shown are in English. This popular festival started in 1990 and sees some of the biggest names in British and French cinema coming into town. A little known fact, it is rumoured that the Bates Mansion in the film Pyscho is based on a villa in Dinard.
Home to privateers and to Chateaubriand
St Malo is one of Brittany’s favourite towns. It was founded by the Welsh monk St Maclou. It is perhaps better known however as a breeding ground of France’s pirates who based themselves in the St Servan district. With several districts, the most popular is “intra euros” or “inside the walls”. The tall granite buildings, most of which were restored after being bombed during WW2, house an interesting mix of cosy hotels, restaurants and shops. Take a tour on the little train to get your bearings or enjoy a bracing walk along the ramparts.
Opposite the town are two little islands that can be reached at low tide. The Vauban-built Fort National is on one. The other hosts the tomb of the writer and politician Chateaubriand, born in St Malo in 1768.
There’s a Canada connection too. Go eastwards from the old town to the district of Rothéneuf and you’ll find the former house of one of St Malo’s most famous sons, Jacques Cartier, who discovered Canada. The 15th century Manor de Limoëlou houses a fascinating museum dedicated to the explorer.
Take a walk on the wild side on the GR34
Walk France’s recently-voted for favourite long-distance footpath. Walk or hike the GR34. It’s also known as the Custom Officer’s path (Sentier des Douaniers). It is an extraordinary route that takes in the whole of the Breton coastline. From here you’ll discover picture postcard views of sea-sprayed landscapes. Highlights include:
The Crozon Peninsula
From the Cap de la Chèvre, enjoy a 180-degree view over the sea and the Bay of Douarnenez as far as the Pointe du Raz.
The Pink Granite Coast
Enjoy amazing silhouettes of rocks with a beautiful coppery pink glow as they are lit by the dying rays of the sun – especially along the Ploumanac’h pathway which looks out onto a string of islands and islets.
The wild coast of Quiberon (the Côte Sauvage)
For a bracing walk, hike along Port Blanc Beach to see the beautiful arc formed by the ocean with a distant view of the Pointe du Percho and the outline of a former customs post.
The cliffs of Cap Fréhel
From here you’ll have some of the finest views in Brittany. Throughout this walk along the Goëlo Coast as far as the medieval fortress of Fort La Latte, the Cap Fréhel is an unmissable landmark.
Thanks to Gillian Green, Gillian Green PR for these great tips for visiting Brittany’s beautiful beaches.