25 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Brittany
Bounded by the sea and defined by its traditional character, Brittany is a beautiful region in northeastern France. Quaint fishing villages are nestled in bays along the Atlantic coastline, while the verdant countryside is dotted with picturesque medieval villages and fairy-tale castles. The landscape varies from peaceful moors and pristine forests to secluded sandy beaches and dramatic seaside scenery. From its rocky promontories, the craggy northern coastline offers sweeping ocean views.
Brittany is also a land of myths, legends, and fascinating history. The region has a Celtic influence with a dialect related to Gaelic, and the local cuisine is delicious. Crêperies serve "galettes" (savory buckwheat crepes) and dessert crepes with toppings such as caramel, chocolate sauce, and fresh seasonal strawberries. Bretons take pride in celebrating the ancient custom of "pardons," a special type of pilgrimage when townspeople (dressed in period costumes) ask for forgiveness for their sins and attend a special mass and festival. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Normandy.
The quintessential Breton port of Saint-Malo is a former island near the mainland. Surrounded by ramparts, Saint-Malo has retained the elements of a medieval fortified coastal town. During the Second World War, the historic center (Vieille Ville) of Saint-Malo was largely destroyed, except for the old walls; the château that dates to the 14th and 15th centuries; and the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent, which was founded in the 12th century. The town was rebuilt after the war in its original style, with narrow little streets and tall granite houses. It's worth exploring the area within the city's ancient walls to discover stately old buildings; atmospheric cobblestone streets; and elegant public squares such as the Place Châteaubriand, close to the Porte Saint-Vincent. On this square is a luxury hotel, the Hôtel France et Châteaubriand, in a 19th-century Neoclassical building.
Near the Place Châteaubriand are steps leading up to the ramparts, which date back to the 12th century. A walk around the complete circuit takes about an hour. From the projecting bastions are spectacular vistas of the town, the estuary (with the town of Dinard on the opposite bank), the sea, and the offshore islands. Below the west side of the ramparts is Plage de Bon Secours, a sandy beach with fantastic facilities, including a sea-water swimming pool, showers, restrooms and a café. The beach also has a view of the Saint-Malo Bay and the town of Dinard in the distance.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Saint-Malo
On the banks of the Odet River, Quimper is a picture-postcard historic town with sweet pastel-painted half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and pedestrian footbridges decorated with potted flowers. In the center of the town is the Place Saint-Corentin, named after the first bishop of Quimper. In this square is Quimper's awe-inspiring Gothic Cathedral, the Cathédrale Saint-Corentin, built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Between the cathedral's two high towers, the legendary figure of King Gradion watches over the town. The sanctuary is illuminated by stained-glass windows from the 15th century.
Across from the cathedral, the Musée des Beaux-Arts displays a wonderful fine arts collection in an impressive Neoclassical building. Highlights are the works by French, Italian, Flemish, and Dutch painters, as well as pictures by Max Jacob and the Impressionist painters of Pont-Aven (the Ecole de Pont-Aven). South of the cathedral, in the former Bishop's Palace, is the Musée Départemental Breton (Breton Museum) with a collection of archaeological objects, folk costumes, ceramics, and artworks, which reveal Brittany's rich cultural heritage. Visitors should be sure to check out the museum's collection of landscape paintings that depict Brittany's Finistère region.
Quimper was the capital of the Duchy of Cornouaille during the early medieval period and now is the chief town of the département of Finistère in southwestern Brittany. One of the attractions of visiting Quimper is the surrounding countryside of Cornouaille. This stunning, rugged landscape is characterized by its rocky peninsulas and sensational sea views. There are also many seaside resorts in the area, including Tréboul and the fishing port of Douarnenez. The Pointe du Raz is the most westerly point in Brittany and offers an amazing panoramic outlook from the tip of the promontory.
At the junction of the Erdre and Loire Rivers, the old Breton port of Nantes has played an important role in history. Nantes was the capital of the Duchy of Brittany during the Middle Ages, and it was here in 1598 that Henry IV signed the Edict of Nantes, which granted freedom of religious belief to Protestants. Thanks to its advantageous port location, Nantes became a prosperous commercial town from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Nantes has also been a university town since the 15th century. Today, Nantes is still a thriving center of higher education, as well as France's sixth largest city.
Visitors may begin a tour of Nantes in the historic center at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany), founded in the 15th century by Francois II, one of the last Breton rulers. Surrounded by parkland, this enormous fortress has all the essentials of a medieval caste: a moat filled with water, seven imposing towers, and sturdy granite defensive walls. The château houses the Musee d'Histoire de Nantes (History Museum of Nantes) on display in the opulent Flamboyant Gothic reception rooms. The diverse collection includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, model ships, and scientific instruments. The museum requires an entry fee, while the castle's courtyard, gardens, and rampart walk are open to the public for free. The Château des Ducs also has a gift shop and a café-restaurant with an outdoor patio that is pleasant on warm days.
After touring the château, visitors should continue west of the castle to the historic quarter of Nantes known as the Bouffay district. In this medieval quarter of half-timbered houses, tourists may wander through the maze of winding streets and shop at the enticing boutiques. In the center of Nantes is the Place Royale, an elegant 18th-century square. Nearby (within a 10-minute walk) is the busy thoroughfare of Rue Crébillon with many shops and restaurants and the Cours Cambronne square that has a small tree-lined green space with park benches.
The old capital of Brittany, Rennes is still the region's economic and cultural center, as well as a university town. After a fire in 1720, much of the town had to be rebuilt, and more reconstruction was necessary after WWII. Rennes is now a modern city with streets laid out at right angles. Visitors can begin a walking tour at the Place de la Mairie to admire the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), built in 1734. West of the Place de la Mairie is the Eglise Saint-Sauveur, a lovely church built from the 17th to the 18th centuries. East of the Town Hall is the Place du Parlement de Bretagne encircled by 18th-century houses. Farther northeast, the Romanesque abbey church of Notre-Dame en Saint-Melaine dazzles visitors with its elaborately sculpted facade and the cloister. Several blocks away is the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre with an interesting blend of architectural styles. Tourists should also take time to stroll the narrow cobblestone lanes around the cathedral where there are perfectly preserved historic houses such as the Hôtel de Blossac at 6 Rue du Chapitre.
Belle-Île-en-Mer is the largest of the Breton islands but is still only 17 kilometers long and ten kilometers wide. The island's name translates to "Beautiful Island in the Sea," fitting of its dazzling natural setting on the Quiberon Bay of Brittany's southwest coast. The island has four villages. The village of Bangor, on the wildest part of the island, was founded in the 6th century by British monks. Locmaria is a rural township on the highest part of the island surrounded by farmland; the town's church dates back to the 11th century. Sauzon is a little fishing village with narrow streets and a thriving marina in its well-sheltered harbor.
The main hub of activity on Belle-Île-en-Mer is the village of Le Palais. Above the village's harbor is a citadel, built in 1549, which now houses a museum focused on the history of Belle-Île-en-Mer. From Le Palais, there is a route running southwest across the island to the rugged Côte Sauvage coastline. Southeast of Le Palais is the Plage des Grands Sables, the island's most beautiful beach. To arrive at Belle-Île-en-Mer, tourists can take a ferry boat (available year-round) from Quiberon, the nearest port on the Brittany mainland, and the tour takes less than an hour. From April through October, ferries run from Port Navalo (about 50 minutes) and from Vannes (about two hours). Private taxi boats run year-round from Quiberon to Belle-Île-en-Mer, and the ride takes about 30 minutes.
6. Morbihan Megalithic Sites
A peaceful, protected bay in southern Brittany, the Golfe du Morbihan is connected with the Atlantic Ocean only by a narrow channel. The bay is filled with numerous small islands; the two largest islands Île aux Moines and Île d'Arz are popular summer vacation destinations (many tourists take a boat trip from Vannes). The Île aux Moines (Monks' Island) once belonged to a monastery and offers an unspoiled natural setting, with many areas for scenic walks.
Inhabited since prehistoric times, Morbihan is filled with fascinating megalithic sites, unique stone structures that are the most ancient found anywhere in the world. These monuments are evidence of a prehistoric culture of which almost nothing is known. A numerous collection of megaliths is in Locmariaquer, which has several amazing sacred sites. "Le Grand Menhir" was the largest stone monument ever erected in prehistoric Europe; this 20-meter-long, 280-ton stone structure was created around 4,500 BC. Other monuments in Locmariaquer include the "Table des Marchands," a 140-meter-long stone burial chamber with enigmatic engravings, and the "Tumulus d'Er-Grah," a Neolithic monument from 5000 BC that was constructed in the form of a trapezoidal cave.
On the Île de Gavrinis is one of Brittany's most impressive megalithic sites, the "Cairn de Gavrinis," a Neolithic stone burial chamber. Built around 3500 BC, the pyramid-shaped chamber is intricately decorated and covered with a grassy mound of earth. Engravings depict patterns and symbols such as swirl designs, axe heads, and horned animals. To arrive at the Island of Gavrinis, visitors may take a ferry boat from Larmor-Baden. Visits to the "Cairn de Gavrinis" are available by guided tours only.
Carnac, just outside of Morbihan Bay on the Quiberon Bay (13 kilometers from Locmariaquer), has an extraordinary amount of megalithic monuments from the Neolithic period around 3500 BC. The name of the town comes from the Celtic word "carn," meaning a stone monument. The "Circuit des Alignements" begins on the west side of Carnac. This circuit includes the mysterious monuments of Ménec, Kermario, and Kerlescan -freestanding circles and rows of stones up to six meters high. Some of the rows include hundreds of stones and extend for 200 to 300 meters in length. The Tumulus Saint-Michel megalithic monument contains a number of tomb chambers and is topped by a small chapel. Carnac also has a Musée de la Prehistoire with a collection of material illustrating the development of humans from 450,000 BC through the Paleolithic Period (Stone Age) and up until the Gallo-Roman era.
7. Château de Josselin
With its picturesque canals and pretty half-timbered houses, the medieval village of Josselin is a must-see tourist attraction in the Morbihan area of Brittany. Apart from the town's old-world charm, the highlight of Josselin is the Château de Josselin, which is a perfect example of feudal architecture. The castle was built in the 11th century and has been inhabited throughout the centuries by generations of the Rohan family. The town of Josselin takes its name from the son of the Viscount who built the château. On the banks of the Oust River, this majestic castle dominates the landscape with its soaring walls and turreted towers. The sumptuous facade exemplifies the Flamboyant Gothic style of the Breton Renaissance.
Tourists may take a guided tour of Château de Josselin to admire the lavish interior. The sitting and dining rooms feature monumental fireplaces, and the library contains more than 3,000 antique books. Formal French gardens surround the château. Visitors will delight in wandering the perfectly manicured tree-lined lawns and rose garden with 40 different heirloom varieties. The château also has a Doll Museum, which displays dolls dating back to the 17th century.
East of Rennes on the left bank of the Vilaine River, the town of Vitré has a magical old-world ambience complete with ancient town walls and towers. In 1999, Vitré was awarded France's title of "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire" ("Town of Art and History") because it is one of the few medieval towns in Europe that has remained so well intact. The prettiest street is Rue de la Baudrairie, once the quarter of the "baudroyeurs" (saddlers). The town's Gothic church, the Eglise Notre-Dame, was built in the 15th and 16th centuries. The interior features an intricate triptych consisting of 32 panels of Limoges enamel.
To get a sense of the town's importance during the Middle Ages, tourists must visit the Château de Vitré. This grandiose multi-towered and fortified castle was built around 1080 by the Baron of Vitré and renovated during the Middle Ages. Crowning the spur of a rocky outcrop, the Château de Vitré is one of the most magnificent fortresses in Brittany. The castle is open to the public and houses a museum of medieval history; guided tours are available. At the foot of the castle is the old town with its narrow lanes and half-timbered houses. About seven kilometers southeast of Vitré is the Château des Rochers Sévigné, an ancient Breton manor house that was rebuilt in the 16th century. The celebrated letter-writer Madame de Sévigné stayed here between 1644 and 1690, and in 1689, her son commissioned royal gardener Le Nôtre to create the formal French gardens. This château is open to the public for guided tours; visitors will see the chapel; two rooms in the tower; the orangerie (small greenhouse); and the garden, which features many alleys and paths for taking walks.
9. Île d'Ouessant (Ushant Island)
The Île d'Ouessant is a rugged island with incredible scenery, including treacherous cliffs and rocky promontories beaten by wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Only seven kilometers long and four kilometers across, this small island has a foreboding and otherworldly feel. Along the island's coastline is a ring of lighthouses, essential to the boats traveling by the island at nighttime. The Phare de Créac'h lighthouse on the northwest coast is passed by thousands of ships every year. This location marks the entrance to the English Channel. Nature is the main attraction of visiting Île d'Ouessant, especially along the island's coastal paths. Île d'Ouessant is known for its indigenous sheep, and the island also has about 400 different species of birds. The best beaches are around the island's main village, Lampaul. To arrive at Île d'Ouessant, tourists can take a ferry boat (approximately a two-hour trip) from Brest or a shorter (about a one-hour) ferry ride from Le Conquet.
10. Côte d'Emeraude (Emerald Coast)
This gorgeous stretch of coastline runs along the north coast of Brittany from Saint-Malo and Dinard to Cap Fréhel. The Côte d'Emeraude includes many wonderful seaside resorts: Dinard (a stylish beach resort), Paramé, Servan-sur-Mer, Rothéneuf, Saint-Briac, Saint-Lunaire, Lancieux, Saint-Jacut, Saint-Cast, and Cancale (known for its oyster beds), all linked by a coastal road. The most striking feature of the Emerald Coast is the Cap Fréhel, which reaches a height of 72 meters above the sea, offering breathtaking views of the coast. Inland from the coast are the towns of Dinan (a picturesque medieval town); Fougères; and Combourg, which has a château that was the family home of the 19th-century writer and statesman René de Chateaubriand.
11. Côte de Granit Rose (Pink Granite Coast)
Named for the pink color of the rocky coastline, this marvelous seaside route runs between Perros-Guirec and the port of Ploumanac'h. The Côte de Granit Rose is famous for its incredible rock formations, the Rochers de Ploumanac'h. These imposing weather-beaten rock structures are found between the beaches of Trestraou and Saint-Guirec. Some of the formations are as high as 20 meters, and many seem to take on the shape of recognizable figures such as a witch, Napoleon's hat, and a rabbit. One of the highlights of this coastal area is Perros-Guirec, a popular seaside resort in Brittany and favorite destination among Breton families. Perros-Guirec has three sandy beaches with kids' clubs, as well as opportunities for sporting activities during summer. Trébeurden is another seaside resort that attracts many beach lovers in summer. The town of Ploumanac'h also has a natural harbor that is a nice area to take a walk. Bird-watchers will appreciate the Pink Granite Coast because of its diverse avian life. Brittany's largest bird sanctuary lies nearby on the Sept-Îles (Seven Islands) archipelago. Regular boat trips run from Perros-Guirec and from nearby Port-Blanc to Sept-Îles.
Well-known among gourmands for its oysters, Cancale is a tiny fishing village on the Baie de Saint-Michel. The prized shellfish has been collected here since Roman times, but oyster farming is more recent. In the 19th century, Cancalais fisherman began to cultivate oysters here in shallow beds. At low tide, it is possible to see the beds spread out in the bay. Farmers produce more than 25,000 tons of oysters annually. Cancale is known for its culinary specialties made with oysters and other seafood. Tourists can sample the fresh local oysters at Cancale's restaurants; the best restaurants are around La Houle port. For those who would like to learn more about oyster production, one of the best places to visit is the Ferme Marine de Cancale, which offers guided tours and documentation about oyster farming along with an oyster tasting.
Above the port in the old town of Cancale is the 18th-century Eglise Saint- Méen, devoted to the 6th-century Welsh saint. The church houses the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires, with exhibits about the town's history of seafaring and fishing, as well as a collection of traditional local crafts and costumes. To experience the lively local culture first-hand, tourists should plan to visit in mid-August. Every year on August 15th, the town celebrates Les Reposoirs: Fête de l'Assomption de Marie (Festival of the Assumption of the Virgin) to pay tribute to the Virgin Mary, the protector of sailors, and to honor those who have perished while at sea, During this festival, a religious procession takes place through Cancale's streets, which are adorned with decorations for the occasion.
Cancale also offers many opportunities to enjoy nature, especially scenic walks around the coast. The Sentier des Douaniers nature trail is a pedestrian pathway that follows the coastline in two parts. The northern part of the hiking trail runs from l'Anse du Guesclin to la Pointe du Grouin with distinctive northern Breton scenery, and the temperate eastern part runs from the Pointe du Grouin to the Port de La Houle with more Mediterranean vegetation. Along the way, the hiking trail provides views of the Bay of Saint-Michel. Cancale also has pristine sandy beaches that draw many vacationers during the summertime.
At the mouth of the Moros River, Concarneau is France's third largest fishing port. This historic town is a called a "ville close" "closed city" because it was a 14th-century stronghold entirely enclosed by sturdy granite walls and towers. The defenses were enlarged by Vauban in the 17th century. This fortified town transports visitors back in time. While ambling through ancient narrow streets past old stone buildings and houses adorned with colorful geraniums, visitors are immersed in the ambience of a bygone era. However, the town has enough to keep modern travelers happy; there are plenty of bustling restaurants and interesting shops to discover.
During summertime, Concarneau is a popular seaside destination thanks to its sandy beaches. Another attraction in Concarneau is the Musée de la Pêche (Fisheries Museum), which displays exhibits related to fishing and has a documentation center with publications about maritime activities and fisheries. The museum also presents temporary artistic exhibits with a theme of fishing, sailing, or the sea.
In August, Concarneau hosts the Filets Bleus festival. This traditional Breton festival gives town residents a chance to dress up in period costumes and allows tourists to learn about the local culture. The festival includes a parade, dancing, and games that are unique to the region.
About 16 kilometers east of Concarneau, this charming artists' village takes its name from the river running through town. The riverside is lined with shady trees and old mills, inviting visitors to take a leisurely stroll. Pont-Aven was discovered in the 1860s by American painters but is most famous for its association with post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin and the Pont-Aven art movement. Gauguin arrived in Pont-Aven in 1886 and later met artist Émile Bernard. Gauguin and Bernard started a new style of painting focused on color and symbolism, known as the "Ecole de Pont-Aven" (School of Pont-Aven). The village's Musée de Pont-Aven displays many paintings by artists of the Ecole de Pont-Aven. For those who want to take in the scenes that inspired great art, a Painters' Trail map (available at the tourist office) indicates the sites in Pont-Aven and the surroundings that were captured by the School of Pont-Aven painters.
Continuing its artistic heritage, Pont-Aven today has many exhibition spaces and artists' workshops as well known as the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art, a non-profit community that provides academic support to talented emerging artists. Pont-Aven is a delightful place to visit anytime of year, but is especially enjoyable on August 1st to experience the Fête des Fleurs d'Ajonc (Festival of Gorse Flowers). For this summer festival, townspeople dress up in traditional costumes while the streets are animated with music and specialty foods are served.
15. Crozon Peninsula
North of Cornouaille and the Pointe du Raz, the craggy Crozon Peninsula is distinguished by its rocky promontories, which offer some of the most outstanding views in Brittany. The peninsula is dotted with numerous seaside resorts including Camaret, Morgat, and Roscanvel. The most dramatic location, the Pointe de Penhir rises to a height of 70 meters above the sea, boasting exceptional coastal views, particularly of the isolated crags known as the Tas de Pois. Nearby is a memorial to Bretons who fell in the Second World War. To the north is the Pointe des Espagnols, with a view of Brest. Between the Pointe de Penhir and Cap de la Chèvre is the Pointe de Dinan, which offers a stunning view of the monumental rock known as the "Château."
In Brittany's picturesque Finistère region, Locronan is one of the most charming towns in Europe. This lovely little town is listed as one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" (Most Beautiful Villages in France) and has also been awarded the "Petite Cité de Caractère" (Small City of Character) title. Distinguished by its medieval architecture, as well as its grand 18th-century houses, the village occupies a spot that has been sacred since the Middle Ages. Because of the spiritual significance of this location, Locronan is a destination for a special type of Breton pardons (pilgrimage festivals) called a "troménie." The Troménie de Locronan (also called the Grande Troménie) pardon is held here in July every six years. Similar to a pilgrimage, the Troménie de Locronan is a 12-kilometer religious procession with thousands of believers participating (many wearing traditional costumes) in walking prayer. A smaller troménie is held every year.
Near Locronan, just eight kilometers away, is another pilgrimage destination, the Chapelle Sainte-Anne-la-Palud. The chapel boasts a painted granite statue in veneration of Saint Anne, who was executed in 1548. Just outside the village of Sainte-Anne-la-Palud is a well-sheltered sandy beach known for its breathtaking sunsets.
Perched on a hill above the Rance River's left bank (between Dinard and Saint-Malo), Dinan is one of the prettiest towns in Brittany. Still surrounded by its old walls, Dinan's old town boasts handsome late-medieval to Early Renaissance houses (particularly on the Rue du Jerzual) and the Château de Dinan (Palais des Ducs de Bretagne). This castle, with its 14th-century dungeon, impenetrable 15th-century fortifications, and 34-meter-high tower, recalls the austereness of the Middle Ages. The castle is open to the public from March to September and offers guided tours. In July, the Château hosts Les Soirées (evening events) with actors in historical costumes bringing to life the world of the Duke of Brittany. Another must-see attraction in Dinan is the Eglise Saint-Sauveur, a church built between the 12th and 16th centuries, which gracefully blends various architectural styles. For an interesting excursion from Dinan, travelers can take a boat trip down the Rance River to Dinard or Saint-Malo.
Dinard enjoys a splendid natural setting (across from Saint-Malo) along the Rance estuary. Mimosas and camellias flourish here under the influence of the Gulf Stream. An old fishing village that was transformed into a prestigious seaside resort in the 19th century, Dinard retains its nostalgic charm - seen in the Belle Epoque seaside villas, striped beach huts, and stylish yacht clubs. Today Dinard is still considered one of the best beach destinations in France. Dinard has four beaches, which are all supervised by lifeguards during the high season (July and August). Just north of the old town is the Plage de l'Ecluse, also called the Grande Plage ("Large Beach"), an expansive beach with a fine sand shoreline, and the Plage de Saint-Enogat in the Quarter Saint-Enogat, a good place for water sports; both of these beaches have lounge chairs and cabanas for rent. Near a public camp site, the Plage du Port-Blanc offers wild natural scenery and opportunities for water sports such as sailing, canoeing, and windsurfing. Tucked away in a sheltered bay, the Plage due Prieré across from the Port Breton park offers beautiful scenery and coastal paths. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Dinard is take a leisurely walk by the sea or along the palm-fringed waterfront Promenade du Clair-de-Lune (Moonlight Promenade), which overlooks the Baie de Prieré. The promenade is illuminated in the evenings during July and August.
Besides the beach, Dinard also has gourmet restaurants and many cultural offerings. The Musée de la Mer (Museum of the Sea) on the Avenue George V features an aquarium with an old-fashioned design and hundreds of fish species in 25 basins. The museum also has a chic restaurant with a glitzy, retro style. In October, the town hosts the Festival du Film Britannique (British Film Festival), with five days of film screenings at five different cinema venues throughout the town.
19. La Baule
La Baule is one of France's top Atlantic Coast beach destinations, with a more modern feel than Brittany's 19th-century seaside resorts. Hugging a bay on the estuary of the Loire River between Nantes and Belle-Île island, La Baule has several miles of fine sandy beaches and a seafront boulevard lined with large hotels, which are packed during the high season. Apart from sunbathing and swimming, the area is popular for sailing and wind surfing. Near La Baule is the smaller seaside resort of La Baule-les-Pins, and to the east is the Parc des Dryades botanical garden.
An interesting sight about six kilometers away from La Baule is Guérande, a walled medieval town entirely enclosed by 1,434-meter-long ramparts. Guérande has a 13th-century Collegiate Church with Romanesque-era pillars, but the town is best known for its salt marshes. Local artisans harvest the salt by hand, and it is sold all over the world. The Musée des Marais Salants (Museum of the Salt Marshes) explains the history and techniques of harvesting sea salt.
20. Le Folgoët
The medieval village of Le Folgoët is worth visiting to admire the Basilique Notre-Dame du Folgoët, a pilgrimage church that dates to the 14th century and still is an important spiritual destination. Every day, many visitors come to pay tribute to the Notre-Dame de le Folgoët statue and to say prayers in front of the Virgin Mary. The church features an exquisite Flamboyant Gothic style and an ornate north tower, which is considered one of the finest in Brittany.
A fairy-tale castle presides over the charming town of Fougères (50 kilometers northeast of Rennes), which is surrounded by a tranquil landscape of forests and agricultural land. The impressive château, built between the 11th and 15th century, has 13 towers around a circuit of protective walls. The medieval atmosphere continues in the walled old town, an enchanting, enclosed world of quaint half-timbered houses (with lovely examples around the Place du Marchix).
Other historic attractions in Fougères include the 15th- and 16th-century Eglise Saint-Sulpice (Church of Saint-Sulpice), which has a Flamboyant Gothic interior, and the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), which dates from the 14th century. In a characteristic half-timbered house next to the Town Hall is the Musée Emmanuel de la Villéon, which displays the work of the Impressionist painter who was born in Fougères. The town of Fougères is also a center of shoe manufacturing and has a Musée des Metiers de la Chaussure (Shoe Museum).
22. Ile de Bréhat
The Île de Bréhat is a tiny island, only three-and-a-half kilometers long. Completely free of cars, this idyllic island is appreciated for its temperate climate and beautiful natural scenery, including many wildflowers and striking red granite cliffs. The main hub of activity is the village of Le Bourg, which has many cafés, restaurants, and hotels. To arrive at Bréhat island, visitors may take a ferry boat from the Pointe de l'Arcouest in Paimpol on the Pink Granite Coastline. Ferries run regularly from Paimpol, and the journey takes only 10 minutes.
On the Gulf of Morbihan, the historic town of Vannes is halfway between Nantes (115 kilometers away) and Brest (119 kilometers away). The old town grew up within the ancient walls and around the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre. Dating back to the 13th century, the cathedral has an Italian Renaissance-style rotunda-shaped chapel, which contains exceptional 17th-century tapestries and a valuable treasury. From the Promenade de la Garenne, there is a fabulous view of the cathedral and the Tour du Connétable, a tower built in the 14th and 15th centuries. The 15th-century Château Gaillard now houses the Musée d'Histoire de Vannes, a museum focused on the heritage of Vannes, with a collection of archaeological finds, paintings, and objects d'art.
The village of Rochefort-en-Terre (35 kilometers away from Vannes) is listed as one of France's "Plus Beaux Villages" (Most Beautiful Villages) as well as a "Village Fleuris" ("Flowering Village") because of the vibrant flowers that decorate the town. Tourists should take time to wander around the village through the atmospheric, narrow streets. There are many artists' ateliers, as well as attractive half-timbered and old stone houses featuring window sills bursting with bright geraniums. Potted flowers also adorn the squares and hidden corners of the town.
Surrounded by a tree-shaded parkland, the Château de Rochefort-en-Terre has all the elements of a medieval castle. However, it's actually a 17th-century horse stables that was updated in the 20th century. (The ruins of the original château are found on the grounds.) In 1907, the property was purchased by Alfred Klotz, the American painter who invested a fortune to renovate the building. Visitors can admire the exterior of the château while wandering through the park, which is open to the public from 10am to 6:30pm daily. The interior of the castle is not open for visits.
25. Roscoff and Île de Batz
Roscoff has the most typically British character of Brittany's ports. Located on a scenic peninsula, the village delights visitors with its lovely harbor, historic shipowners' houses, and an exquisitely decorated Gothic church. Across from Roscoff is the Île de Batz, a tiny Breton island with a mild climate and serene environment, perfect for relaxation. Visitors will enjoy the picturesque coastline, sandy beaches, and lush exotic garden on the Île de Batz. During the summertime, ferries run regularly from Roscoff to the Île de Batz.