A world of sea meets land in North Western France: Brittany is a magical place with oodles of history and even its own language. Head there if you want to experience life out of Paris, visit some beautiful medieval villages and experience some local delicacies you can’t try anywhere else in L’Hexagon. Here’s how to spend three days in Brittany!
Day one: Fortifications and the Sea
Day one snakes along the jagged coastline of the region, in search of the fortified towns and historic castles in the area. It’s the perfect itinerary for those travelling with friends, as well as family. To get the best out of your day, I highly recommend packing a picnic as food prices in Saint-Malo have definitely recently risen to match the increase in tourism!
Fort du Guesclin
The imposing and ancient tidal island of Fort du Guesclin juts out to sea and is cut off from mainland France twice a day, every day. Although the island itself is sadly private, you can still stroll along the beach, paddle in the sea (or swim if you’re feeling brave) and enjoy the Breton coastline for yourself.
Read more: Fort du Guesclin
The historic settlement of Saint-Malo is located on the very fringes of the ocean on its own peninsula and was founded by the Gauls as early as the First Century CE. An ancient port town, this walled city was once famous for its ‘privateering’ (fancy word for pirate) escapades throughout the middle ages.
Today, Saint-Malo is filled with quirky buildings, cobbled lanes and small museums. Saint-Malo is also the town where Jacques Cartier, the man who claimed Canada for France came from meaning that the town has strong ties with Quebec.
Read more: A quick guide to Saint-Malo
Soak up nature at Le Pointe du Grouin
Pretty and wild, especially during the golden hours of the day, Le Pointe du Grouin should definitely not be missed on your trip to Brittany. Head here with friends and a picnic to get the most out of this little piece of Wilderness in Western France.
Situated on the very edges of the bay of Mont Saint Michel, this rocky outcrop is perfect for bird spotting (nearby Île des Landes is now a designated bird sanctuary) and is the Northern most tip of Cancale, meaning that here you’ll get some of the very best views out onto the sea. On a clear day, if you look out to sea clearly enough, you’ll see the towering spires and conical shape on Mont Saint Michel in the distance.
Day two: Historic Houses and Medieval Towns
Day two of your three days in Brittany itinerary will take you to some of the more historic and medieval towns in the region where people really lived. Whereas Saint-Malo was fortified and known for its independence streak, the towns and villages you’ll see today are traditional Breton villages and typical of the medieval era and beyond.
Enjoy the flowers at Domaine Montmarin
Located not far from Saint-Malo, the magical gardens and château at Domaine Montmarin are open to the public and the grounds can be explored for a fee. Head here to see tropical flowers, the beautiful façade of an 18th-Century French Château, and admire magnificent views of the Rance estuary. Also make sure to take a trip to the Domaine if you love hydrangeas; I’ve never seen them in such abundance before!
Take a trip to the historic town of Dinan
Magical, medieval and inviting, the historic town of Dinan is like something straight out of a storybook. That is, if your novel is a fairytale from the middle ages! Head here to see one of the best-preserved examples of a French medieval town in France today.
Wander along the fortified ramparts, walk down the ancient high street and see the historic port that was once so important to the town’s trade. While in Dinan, make sure to also sample a Kouign-Amann. This regional specialty consists of a third sugar, a third butter and is deliciously sweet!
Visit the beautiful village of Saint Suliac
Often named as one of the most beautiful villages in all of France, Saint Suliac is truly stunning. And between increasing tourism in the area and the modernisation of much of France, it’s one of those rare gems that’s definitely becoming harder and harder to come by. Head here to sit by the sea, wander the cobbled lanes and soak up some history in the 12th-Century church; all without too many tourists!
Day three: The sea rules the land in this part of the world
Your third and final day of your three days in Brittany guide takes you into the wilder parts of the region, as well as to a historical and mythical site of Mont Saint Michel. Though you’ll be leaving the region today, the experiences will likely stay with you for a while (I still remember all my trips to the magical French coastline like it was yesterday haha!)
Wander along the coastline
Brittany lies right along the coastline, meaning that it’s filled with secret coves, sandy beaches, and breathtaking coastal walks. After spending the past two days exploring all the small towns and villages that the region has to offer, head to the coastline to hike right beside the sea and spend some time in nature.
Take a trip to Mont Saint Michel
First up (because I know this will be pointed out to me otherwise): Mont Saint Michel is not in Brittany, Instead it is located in Normandy, though the two regions have been arguing for its inclusion in their own part of France for centuries. It should also be noted that a large chunk of Brittany is located in the Bay of Mont Saint Michel (including the pretty and wild tip of Pointe du Grouin).
For those who have never heard of UNESCO world heritage site Mont Saint Michel before, it is a tidal island that gets cut off from the rest of mainland France twice a day by the sea. Located around a kilometre from the rest of the land, the island has been fortified for millennia and has been the location for a monastery since at least the 8th Century. Head here if you want to learn about ecclesiastical history, or simply if you want to see the stunning location and its structures for yourself.