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Help with Brittany itinerary

Spending 3 weeks for the first time in Brittany. While hotels are set, any advice on places not to miss or restaurants to visit on the below itinerary would be greatly appreciated. We live on the ocean, so our general plan is to travel along the coast from South to North, bypassing cities and spending time in smaller places.
Thanks in advance

Morbihan—3 nights in Trinite sur Mer. Visits to Carnac, Quiberon, Auray and Vannes.

Visit Pont-Aven on way to

South Finistere—4 nights St Guenole/Penmarch. Visits to Pointe du Raz and Crozon peninsulas and their many seaside towns, Concarneau, Quimper.
Z
Cotes-D’Armor—3 nights Ploumanac’h. Visit various towns in this area ( suggestions?), Paimpol and Ile De Brehat.

Travel from St Brieuc along coast road thru Cap Frehel to

3 nights—Dinard. Visits to St Malo and Dinan

Thanks for your help and suggestions.

Posted by
3060 posts

We were there last summer for 5 nights. We stayed in a small hotel which was not fancy, but was inexpensive - Hotel Les Voyageurs, Pleneour-Langvin. We had our anniversary dinner there, and it was quite nice, while not being hugely expensive. The breakfasts were very nice. It is close to Quimper - perhaps 20 KM E N E.

We visited Concarneau. It is a charming walled town, which is quite touristic. There is a wonderful band which plays music at the gate, and has done so for many years - Micamac. Buy a CD or 2 - charming Celtic music - the region shares the Celtic heritage with Ireland and Scotland.

We also went to many of the other towns, and spent a little time in Quimper. It is a wonderful region. We have a friend there, which made it better for us, as she was able to show us things others would miss.

The drink of the region is hard cider, served in coffee cups from an earthenware pitcher. The cuisine typique is the galette - a buckwheat crepe with either savory (ham and eggs) or sweet fillings.

http://www.hotelrestaurant-lesvoyageurs.com/

Posted by
5963 posts

One of my favorite little towns in France is near Quimper, Locronan. Locronan is much smaller than Quimper, its buildings are a gray brick and come alive with flowers. I first tasted kouign amann in Locronan. It's a Brittany pastry with lots of sugar and butter and very delicious. Also near Quimper is the seaside town of Douarnenez. The beach/coast is breathtaking.

Posted by
543 posts

Skip,

I second Jules advice. You don't say when you are going, but if you can you should visit the evening market in Locronan. I don't know if it was kouign amann but while we were at the market we bought some cookies. My son was joking that the first three ingredients listed on the package were "butter, butter and butter".

Also recommend the cider, but stay away from the Andouille it is not like the stuff in the U.S.

Posted by
5963 posts

I think the meat that dlinstrom referred to is andouillette. We tried it only because it came on a plate with other meats and we couldn't tell which was which. It was apparent after tasting. We did not like andouilette either! Andouille is a smoked sausage often used for creole cooking. Kouign Amman is more of a pastry and perhaps it's similar to puff pastry. They did have amazing cookies and other goodies. We were there in late September/October and there wasn't a market in Locranon, it was very quiet with a couple hotels and restaurants open. For us, that was perfect, we enjoyed the quiet and the scenery.

Posted by
14167 posts

I hope you will see the megaliths at Locmariaquer which are located near the Alignments at Carnac. The Visitor Center has a good video about the site.

Depending on when you visit Carnac you may or may not be allowed inside the fence to the stones. Do some checking on the dates. When the stones are closed there are English tours once a day, I think.

Posted by
703 posts

last year we spent time touring around Brittany. ( after spending a number of weeks in numerous other european countries)
one absolute highlight of the trip was our visit to ile de Brehat. it was delightful, different and every turn was a picture post card opportunity. We would return in a flash.
we got on the island early ( by ferry- which is nice) and hired electric bikes, which was a good option for getting to most of the island in a limited time. ( cars etc are not allowed on the island)

hope this helps.

Posted by
211 posts

Thanks so much for the suggestions. We will be there in October and look forward to visiting these places.

Posted by
7502 posts

This sounds like a great trip. You don't mention MSM, which most people would include on this route.

Note that driving can be pleasant but time-consuming. You're subject to approximate GPS data for example, leading to bad navigation. (This happens in the U.S. as well. You have to think critically about the directions you're getting to remote places.) There is time involved getting from main roads to destinations. Things like the menhir by Dol De Bretagne are swell, but take a lot of time to get to - and I wouldn't even use the word "remote" for that part of Brittany!

Having slept in Dinard, I would expect to find some seasonal businesses closed in October. (Perhaps you won't miss touristy things like the steam-train ride near Paimpol.) Note that Dinard and St. Malo are on separate peninsulas. That means an extra ten minutes in and out of each town, just to negotiate the geography. Then you have to look for a parking place.

Posted by
211 posts

Thanks Tim.
Have no worries, MSM is on for when we leave Dinard and head to Bayeux. Oysters in Cancale for lunch then to MSM. (Realize it is crowded then, but don’t want to miss Cancale for lunch).

We live on an island and love boats, so planning ferry from Dinard to St Malo. Isn’t that the easy way to visit from Dinard since the ferry leaves about 2 minutes from our hotel and lands right next to the walled portion of St Malo?

Any suggestions for restaurants you enjoyed in Dinard, St Malo or Dinan greatly appreciated.

Skip

Posted by
14167 posts

Well, if you are looking for something different food-wise, I really enjoyed a meal at Le Penjab 14 rue Sainte Barbe in Saint-Malo. It's pretty small, within the walls and delicious food. I was seated next to the kitchen door and I could here the folks patting out the Naan. Yum!

Posted by
27362 posts

I find it hard to get past the galettes (savory crepes) in that part of France.

Posted by
165 posts

I did a similar trip - the opposite direction - 2 years ago. I agree not to miss Locronan. My only other comment is that it seemed to take forever to get to Point du Raz and I didn't really thing it was worth it. Like you I've lived and spent time around the us coast - this was a nice rocky windy coast - like many in California and Maine. I know you'll enjoy your wonderful trip. sue

Posted by
10306 posts

You should add Tréguier to your list in the Côtes d’Armor.

Andouillette in France is a tripe sausage, an acquired taste not enjoyed by all, and not to be confused with smoked andouille found in Louisiana cooking.

Kouign-amann is a yeast dough—soaked in butter and sprinkled with large sugar grains. The best I ever had was from the bakery in Locronan—so yet another reason to go there.

Posted by
27362 posts

Kouign-amann is indeed wonderful, but you can feel your arteries clogging as you eat it. Unbelievable though it may be, I encountered a small bakery in L'viv this summer that sold kouign-amann. It was a good bakery, but I just couldn't bring myself to try a Breton specialty in Ukraine.

Posted by
5963 posts

Oddly enough Kouign-amann is available in a suburb of St. Paul MN. It is artery clogging and I save that for France!

Posted by
490 posts

Here are some maybe-not-mainstream suggestions.
While visiting Carnac, look for the sign off D196 for Tumulus de Mercado. It's a short drive to a Tumulus you can actually walk in (and on). The simplicity of the site (privately owned) is part of the charm. When we were there a high-school-aged young man sat at a table in an open-sided shed and collected a modest entry fee. Very laid back and unpretentious.
We'd been to Carnac before but this time walked along three alignments (Menec, Kermario and Kerlescan) just to get a sense of their extent. You might not want to devote that much time (45 minutes each way) because there's no stunner to cap it off. It's just the vastness of row upon row of standing stones that's impressive. And its majesty remains despite being torn up for other uses, cut by roads, etc.
Quimper has a great Old Town and a very good indoor market (Les Halles Cornouailles) at the western edge of the Old Town. It's supplemented by street stalls on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.
In both Quimper and Concarneau we attended local festivals and were delighted. Lots of double-cheek air kisses, even exchanged between men, folk dances which involved everyone from the elderly to the very young, and bagpipes galore. I'd really encourage you to check one out.
On the way from St Guenole to Ploumanac'h is Daoulas Abbey, a nice glimpse into monastic self-sufficiency, with a medicinal herb garden and an interesting museum (not geared towards monastic life, just an interesting museum).
Also between St Guenole and Ploumanac'h is Ecomusee des Monts d'Arree, a re-created village and manor house acting out 18th century rural life.
About 20 minutes from Ploumanac'h is a throwback amusement park named Village Gaulois. We went there by accident because the name is similar to a prehistoric village located elsewhere, but it's a unique and ingenious amusement park. Parent-powered merry go rounds and boats squirting water at one another, hand-drawn chariots and barrel trains, games using ropes and pulleys, etc. Never would have gone there if I'd known what it was but I'm glad we did. We watched lots of families having non-electronic fun.
Near Morlaix is the Cairn de Barnenez, one of the largest and oldest passage tombs in Western Europe. The front has been carefully excavated after the rear was accidentally opened in search of building stones.
Just south of St Brieuc is Moncontour, a picturesque town with impossibly high walls and an annual medieval festival.
As you can tell, we love Brittany and I'm sure you will, too.
Bon voyage.

Posted by
12172 posts

I'll second Locronan. It's a small town constructed of dark granite. The town has been used as a backdrop for many films and TV shows because it's both charming and homogeneous. North of there are a number of towns with unique Parish closes. The churches have lots of locally made granite sculptures. They are worth a stop if you're passing through but probably not worth going out of your way to see unless they specifically interest you. I visited three towns to see them Lampaul-Guimiliau, Guimiliau, and Saint-Thegonnec.

Near Vannes is my favorite sight, Cairn de Gavrinis. You reach it by ferry tour from Larmor-Baden. They take about 30 at a time, the tour lasts at least an hour. It's all in French but worth going even if you can't follow French well. The Cairn is a prehistoric passage tomb similar to Newgrange in Ireland. It was only discovered in the 80's. The ferry will also show you a partially submerged stone henge. If the tide is going in or out, you will get a great view of water rushing between the small islands in Morbihan Bay, almost like white water rapids. The small ferry has monster engines so it isn't bothered by the tides.

Up on the coast by Dinard, check out Ft. La Latte. It's a medieval castle built over the ocean cliffs. It's been used for lots of military purposes over the years but now shows off it's medieval charm. You can even climb the dome on top (with a rope) if you're game. There is also a lighthouse on the cliffs near there. I'd recommend that for anyone with a particular interest in seabirds, the cliffs are covered with quite a few species. The ocean views are nice there too.

Finally, oysters in Cancale. They aren't any more expensive than other seafood I've had around France. They are supposed to be the best anywhere. I was skeptical but they lived up to their reputation IMO.

Posted by
211 posts

Thanks for all the thoughtful and helpful replies. We head to Brittany tomorrow for our 13 day adventure and look forward to including many of your collective ideas on our first trip to Brittany