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Brittany, France Travel Itinerary

Discover the best of Brittany, France, including castles, crêpes, galettes and cider with the itinerary from “Travels with Darley.”

Everything about Brittany is distinctive, from its geography and its granite rocks to its traditions and its language. The region stands apart from the rest of France—literally, with its long peninsula reaching out 186 miles into the Atlantic. Brittany is a popular destination for French travelers and holds many hidden gems for Americans. This is the perfect getaway for in-the-know travelers and especially those that love France.

Located along France’s Northwest coast, across the English Channel from Great Britain, and just a few hours by train from Paris, Brittany has a fascinating history. It’s strong Celtic heritage dates back to the Middle Ages, when immigrants from Ireland, Wales and Southern England established communities on the peninsula, calling it Brittany or Little Britain.

Below is the itinerary I followed filming for “Travels with Darley” in Brittany, France. You could choose to stay just in Saint Malo and in Perros Guirec and easily do this itinerary in a week or even five or six days and if you have less time, condense it further. I definitely wouldn’t miss Saint Malo. Rennes is normally where you would fly or take a high speed train from Paris to start and / or end your trip, so consider visiting Renees on the way in or out of Brittany.

My Trip Itinerary for Brittany, France

Day 1: Perros Guirec

The beauty of the pink rock formations on the Pink Granite Coast around Ploumanac’h, classified as a ‘Grand Site Naturel’, is dazzling.

To Do:

  1. Hike to the Ploumanac’h lighthouse
  2. Go Stand Up Paddleboarding with Alexis Deniel, French Champion of Long Board in 2010 and European Champion in 2014, of Ponant Surf School
  3. Lunch at Perroz Sea Side
Ploumanac’h lighthouse along the Pink Granite Coast in Brittany.

Ploumanac’h lighthouse along the Pink Granite Coast in Brittany.

Stay: Hotel Castle Beau Site and experience the most breathtaking sunsets on the entire coast. This hotel is also a great option for dinner.

The view from my room at Hotel Castel Beau Site in Perros Guirec.

The view from my room at Hotel Castel Beau Site in Perros Guirec.

Day 2: The Forts and Caps

From the famous fishing port of Paimpol to the majestic headlands of Cap Fréhel and Cap d’Erquy, here you’ll discover a land steeped in the good things in life – great food, great beauty, and lots of excitement.

To Do:

1) Fort La Latte

Fort La Latte’s remarkable setting on a rocky headland has led the monument to be used as a location for a number of films. Fort-la-Latte is a 14th century castle, which was later adapted and used as a military fort to protect the coastline. This is one of the coolest castles we’ve visited to date! You’ll cross two drawbridges just to enter.

Just after walking over one of two drawbridges to enter Fort La Latte.

Just after walking over one of two drawbridges to enter Fort La Latte.

2) Cap Fréhel 

Visit the Cap Frehel Lighthouse for views over the Emerald Coast and the Channel Islands and a visit to a seabird reserve. Take  a walk along La ville Berneuf, one of the widest beaches in St-Brieuc’s Bay.

3) Visit to the Château de Bienassis

The Château de Bienassis has a striking façade of pink Erquy sandstone that blends seamlessly into the vast landscape over which this 15th Century castle watches. Pierre Yves Huguet, along with his wife, children, horses, ducks and the family dog, live here. Can you imagine growing up in a castle? His family is the seventh and eighth generation to inhabit this castle. Surrounded by a moat andmighty walls, Bienassis is a registered historical monument,and a fascinating look at historic and modern life in Brittany.

The rose garden at Château de Bienassis.

The rose garden at Château de Bienassis.

Stay at: Hotel de Diane
Located on the vast Sables d’Or beach, one of Brittany’s most beautiful beaches, Brittany’s Deauville came alive during the Roaring Twenties, as did Hotel Diane. At the time, to please the English, an en vogue architect developed an Anglo-Breton style. The Diane Hotel is among the first six hotels constructed in 1925 in this characteristic style that defines its unique personality!

Fabulous meal at Hotel Diane in Brittany, France.

Fabulous meal at Hotel Diane in Brittany, France.

Day 3: Golf, Sailing and the Coast

1) Golf in Val-André

Exceptionally pretty with wonderful views along the coast, Pléneuf-Val-André is a glorious seaside course. More clifftop than traditional links, it is nevertheless extensively bunkered with the greens being particularly well defended. This is a public course with 17 holes on which you can see the sea and there’s also one hole that’s been rated as one of the top 100 in the world.

2) Sailing in Lan

Not into golf? Choose to go sailing with the Nautical Club of Lancieux. I took a lesson in sailing a catamaran, but you can also enjoy sand surfing on the beach.

My lesson in sailing a catamaran with Guillaume Lognone, at the Nautical Club of Lancieux.

My lesson in sailing a catamaran with Guillaume Lognone, at the Nautical Club of Lancieux.

2) Cap d’Erquy 

It’s said that way back in Celtic times, the prominent point of the Cap d’Erquy was used as a lookout post along the coast. In fact, traces of a Celtic defensive encampment have been unearthed. The charming port of Erquy is reputed for its scallops and relaxing beaches. Take a walk here and delve into the past. Enjoy lunch or dinner back in Erquy following your walk along Cap d’Erquy.

Stay at: CastelBrac, a magnificent 1930s villa that looks like a Scottish castle overlooking Prieuré bay. This is a boutique hotel and you can easily walk from the hotel to dinner or dine here.

Day 4: Dinard and Cancale with your next nights in Saint Malo

This chic seaside resort of Dinard is all about the glamour of yesteryear with glorious villas, beautiful beaches and excellent restaurants—all the while acting as the gateway to northern Brittany.

To Do:

1) Beaches, Architecture & the Market

Admire the grandiose villas built by visiting British tourists in the 19th century, and follow their lead in sampling the lovely beaches dotting the coastline. It’s the perfect spot to take a relaxed day in the middle of a full itinerary!

There is a daily market each morning in the Halles de la Concorde, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings there is a market in Place Crolard. During the summer (early April to early September) there is also an antiques / vide grenier market in Dinard, all day Sunday at Esplanade de la Halle. Look for kouign-amann in the market and consider purchasing something with Brittany’s signature stripes on it.

2) Oyster farms

Step outside Dinard and explore the little village of Cancale, where oyster farmers sell their salty harvest next to the sea. Check out the oyster farms at low tide. Buy some fresh oysters at the market or dine in one of the many restaurants in Cancale.

Fresh oysters in Cancale.

Fresh oysters in Cancale.

Stay at: Le Grand Be – Modern hotel with great location within the old walls of Saint Malo. You can walk to everything (if you like to walk) from this hotel.

Dinner options: Great organic, vegetarian food at AnnaData.

Splurge with a meal by the sea at Restaurant Le Bénétin, which reminded me of a posh California coast restaurant. Located by the cliffs of Rotheneuf, the coastal views are stunning. You can sit outside if its nice. The salmon was amazing. You’ll need to drive here or have a driver take you.

Go for ice cream at Sanchez L’Artisan Glacier (7 rue de la Vieille Boucherie).

Poached salmon, California-esque views and more great seafood at Restaurant Le Benetin in Saint Malo.

Poached salmon, California-esque views and more great seafood at Restaurant Le Benetin in Saint Malo.

Day 5: Saint Malo

Walking through the cobbled streets of St Malo’s old town feels like you’ve stepped back in time—this popular destination and busy ferry port offers visitors an authentic glimpse into Brittany’s important seafaring past.

To Do:

1) Breizh Café

Mouth watering whether savory or sweet, enjoy the best crêpes of Brittany in Saint Malo at Breizh Cafe, along with lots of choices for cider.

My attempt to make a galette at Breizh Cafe. I think it's best to leave this dish to the professionals!

My attempt to make a galette at Breizh Cafe. I think it’s best to leave this dish to the professionals!

2) Le Beurre Bordier

Across the street from Briezh Cafe, explore the rich wonders of some of the best butter I’ve ever tasted.

3) Maison Galland

Discover the secrets of typically Breton kouign-amann pastries, called the “fattiest pastries in Europe.”

On the left... a savory traditional galette at Briezh Cafe, butter at Le Beurre Bordier and kouign-amann. Try all of these treats in Saint Malo.

On the left… a savory traditional galette at Briezh Cafe, butter at Le Beurre Bordier and kouign-amann. Try all of these treats in Saint Malo.

4) Sailing with Coastal Sensations (Sensations Littoral) with Yann Perraud

Sail out to see 17th century forts and enjoy wine and oysters.

On the beach at low tide in Saint Malo.

On the beach at low tide in Saint Malo.

Stay at: Le Grand Be

Day 6: Rennes

This charming medieval city represents the best of Brittany; with half-timbered houses, galettes, and rolling parks, it’s the best combination of regional and city-living. A large ex-pat population lives here, as well as lots of university students.

To Do:

1) Lices Market 

As one of France’s biggest fresh produce markets, the Place des Lices is alive with chatter and folk as local farmers and market gardeners come to sell their produce. This market has been around since Medieval times.

Wonderful cheese at the Lices market in Rennes.

Wonderful cheese at the Lices market in Rennes.

2) Wander Rennes

Discover the many wonders of this capital city, from the soaring Cathedral to unexpected delights in the stores selling regional goods. I noticed lots of good boutiques with women’s clothing here. I wish I’d had more time to shop!

Half-timbered architecture in Rennes, the capital of Brittany.

Half-timbered architecture in Rennes, the capital of Brittany.

Fly or take a high speed train from Rennes to Paris.

Look for “Travels with Darley: Brittany, France” on your local PBS TV station this winter. Watch our other France episodes on Create TV, your local PBS TV station and Amazon Prime

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Travels with Darley is a travel TV series broadcast on PBS stations and on digital networks, including the AOL On Network. Host Darley Newman of "Equitrekking" fame joins locals to showcase the top food, culture and adventure attractions in the USA and around the globe.

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