The jagged coastline, azure waves, and a salty breeze constantly whistles through Brittany, an area on the very North-Western edge of France. The region is full of cute little villages, ancient cities and historical sites that are well worth a visit. Here are 10 beautiful towns in Brittany that you won’t want to miss!
As the capital of the Brittany region, the charming city of Rennes is a great place to start when it comes to exploring the region. All timber-framed houses and grand gardens, you could easily spend a week getting lost along its cobbled lanes. The Grand Cathedral in the city centre is also well worth a visit, and dates all the way back to the early 1800s.
Walled, medieval and full of cobbled lanes, Dinan is one of the most magical towns that all of France, if not Europe has to offer. The well-preserved fortifications that surround the town date all the way back to the middle ages (well before the region of Brittany was even incorporated into the French empire).
If there’s one ‘must-see Dinan attraction’ you must visit, make it Rue du Jerzual. After all, the main high street which winds its way through the middle of the town and hasn’t changed all that much in centuries. Whilst here, make sure to try a ‘Kouignn-Amann,’ a local speciality primarily made using butter and sugar- heaven!
Located in the Morbihan region of Brittany (also home to sites like the Presqu’Île de Quiberon), Vannes is an ancient city which is famed for its iconic cobbled lanes, narrow streets, and walled fortifications. The city is also known locally for its great food scene.
While here, make sure to sample crêpes, local cider (a Breton speciality), and some seafood- if you’re a fish eater. Otherwise, some of the top things to do in Vannes include wandering thro the stunning Saint-Peter Gothic cathedral and admiring the art of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Vannes.
The charming walled town of Saint-Malo features heavily both in local myth and modern literature. And once you’ve visited, you can easily see why. The town’s heavily armed defences and location at the very edge of the land cut a striking picture in the landscape. The town was founded as early as the 1st Century CE and soon after became a prominent Roman fort.
Since then, the town has gone from strength to strength, even playing a key role in establishing the city of Quebec in Canada. Today, you can still wander along the town’s ramparts, explore the ancient churches and discover the history of this ancient city for yourself. For more ideas of Saint-Malo’s top attractions, check out this guide to the best things to do in Saint-Malo.
Although best known for its ferry links to the UK, no list of the most beautiful towns in Brittany would be complete without at least a gentle nod to the charming town of Roscoff. Located in the Finistère region of Brittany, the town is known as being a ‘town of character’.
Today, thanks in part to the botanical gardens and 16th-century church, Roscoff attracts crowds of tourists all year round. Other highlights of the pretty Brittany town include the historical botanical garden of Georges Delaselle Garden and the heritage museum of Maison des Johnnies et de l’Oignon de Roscoff.
Carnac is a small, charming town on the fringes of the coastline. But what makes it so famous the world over are its strange alignments of Neolithic stones, situated a little outside of the settlement. In actual fact, the Carnac Stones together form the largest collection of Neolithic monuments in the world.
Altogether there are upwards of 3000 stones. These collections include dolmens (a single chamber neolithic room), menhirs (a single standing stone), and tumuli (a grave mound). Truly an amazing historical site to witness with your own eyes, if you make it your mission to see just one thing in Brittany, make it the Carnac stones!
The picture-perfect town of Quimper is all gothic architecture and ancient walkways. Located alongside the Odet river, the town is the capital of the Finistère department of Brittany (the region of Brittany is divided into four departments).
Originally settled during Roman times, Quimper is the Celtic capital of the region, and as a result, you’ll find many Celtic influences throughout the settlement. The architecture of the town is characterised by small footbridges over the many streams punctuating the town, as well as Gothic architecture which dates back to the 13th-16th-Centuries.
Situated by the sea, Quiberon lies at the end of Presqu’Île de Quiberon, an almost island at the edges of the sea. Quiberon may be nice, but what really draws you to the area is the wild landscape, rugged cliff faces, and sparkling water. Much of the coastal area alongside Quiberon is now a designated nature reserve.
The Quiberon peninsula is the kind of place you never get to hear about in guide books, but probably should do! Some of the best things to do in Quiberon include sampling the local cuisine (thanks to its position along the seaside, you’ll find plenty of seafood-inspired menus in this Brittany town), enjoying the many nearby beaches, and exploring the Côte Sauvage (Wild Coast) peninsula.
Perhaps the prettiest village in all of Brittany, Rochefort-en-Terre really is a throwback to a bygone era, where horses were used instead of cars, and where you collected every item of grocery in a different shop. Wander along the award-winning ancient streets (the town has previously been listed as one of the most beautiful villages in all of France), and check out the town’s medieval Château.
Situated seaside, the quaint port town of Auray is well worth a visit if only to catch a glimpse of the rugged coastline that makes the region so iconic. Much of the town dates back to the 1600s and 1700s when the port was a major trading hub for international sales.
The port even welcomed Benjamin Franklin when he visited l’Hexagone to support the French Revolution. Today, the town is little changed and a visit to this, one of the most beautiful towns in Brittany, truly feels akin to stepping back in time. Think small restaurants, chic boutiques and plenty of picturesque views. Otherwise, be sure to explore the many abbeys, chapels, and churches which litter the surrounding region.