Superb seafood, huge sandy beaches, culture and cuisine, Brittany is the perfect choice for a family holiday in France.
The beautiful headland of Ploumanac’h, near Perros-Guirec on the north coast of Brittany is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Known as the Pink Granite Coast after the coloured stone found there. Be prepared for stunning rock formations up to 20 metres tall, shaped by the wind and sea along a coastal path that stretches some 12 miles or try the shorter round walk of 4 miles. Look out for Napoleon’s Hat, the witch and the rabbit along the route, you’ll also pass pretty beaches, islands and natural harbours where you can stop and enjoy the sun and sea for a while.
What we would do…
Brittany has the most amazing coastline, just get down to the sea nearest to your villa and explore the bays, coves, creeks and rivers to find your favourite spots. There are water sports for all, sailing centres, windsurfing, kayaks and canoes, or try your hand at surfing on Atlantic rollers. Hike coastal trails to hidden coves you can’t find from the comfort of your car, take a picnic and enjoy a swim when you need one, or hire bikes to see even more of the stunning coast and countryside.
Brittany is surrounded by the sea so get out on it, lots of excursions depart from ports around the coast to showcase the coastline or visit unspoilt islands. There’s lots to see, always a chance to swim and somewhere nice for lunch.
A visit to the walled city of Concarneau is great any time of day but in the evening it’s just magical as darkness closes in and the medieval city comes to life. Do a bit of shopping, break for an authentic cider or glass of wine then choose a restaurant for authentic Breton cuisine, seafood or perhaps feast on Crepes, sweet or savoury.
The town of Brest holds a warm welcome for all visitors and it particularly enjoys a party, head down to the Yacht Marina on Thursdays during summer for a fun time, there are plenty of fun bars open til late like Chez Arnold and L’Arizona whilst the Dubliner has a particularly good choice of beers, don’t forget to designate a driver!
WHAT WE THINK
Brittany is the most popular destination in France for holidaymakers from the UK and deservedly so, it’s very scenic, the people friendly and welcoming, the food is good and it’s famous for its fabulous beaches, particularly in the areas where we have selected our villas. It’s an ideal destination for those that are new to French holidays and for families that don’t want to travel too far.
It also widens your travel options; as well as flights into several convenient airports including Dinard and Brest, with limited flights into Quimper and even Nantes isn’t too far, there are also a choice of channel crossings to France, which enable you to pack everything (and everyone) into the car and make your way to your holiday at your own pace. The longer sailings direct into Brittany also give you time to relax and enjoy the journey, with restaurants and comfortable bars, you’re free to move around and enjoy your time at sea, with the prospect of a short drive to your holiday villa once you land in France.
EAT AND DRINK
Restaurants in Brittany cater for all tastes, families are made welcome and you’ll notice that prices are reasonable, compared with other popular parts of France. Seafood is very important and much is made of the abundant fresh fish and shell fish including locally farmed oysters and good quality seafood restaurants are easy to find. Other specialities of the region include crepes, delicious with either savoury and sweet fillings and always a hit with the children and of course cider, or is that cidre?
We’ve recommended a few restaurants in each centre to get you started
ON THE GROUND
Roscoff, located in the north of the region and also handy because it has a ferry port, gateway to delightful countryside and stunning coastline. Take a day trip to the Ile de Batz, a delightful car free island, explore the sub tropical gardens at Roc Hievec or discover life beneath the waves at the aquarium.
Restaurants - L’Ecumes des Jours, Le Surcouf and Creperie la Poste
Brest is the largest city in Western Brittany with a large yacht marina, it’s a friendly town, always ready for a party with a regular Thursday evening event at the marina in summer; the St Martin area is also well known for it’s lively fun atmosphere. As well as its seaport, Brest is home to Oceanopolis, a unique marine science and technology centre.
Restaurants - L’Atelier Gourmand, Creperie du Roi Gradlon, Les Freres de la Cote
Douarnenez is a bustling city and sea port, “Le Port Musee”, where you can admire the boats and old rigs moored in this famous harbour. Set in the bay that bears its name, there are sandy beaches to enjoy and a stunning coastline to explore, out towards the wilder western coast the beaches are popular with surfers.
Restaurants - Creperie Tout le Monde, L’Armor and Al Soledo Pizza, , try the pub Pourquois Pas?
Guingamp Located in the department of Cotes d’Armor, famous for its beautiful countryside and rich architectural history, it’s a bustling town with good shopping, restaurants and cafes. The coast and pretty beaches near St Brieuc and around the bay are within easy reach and will not disappoint. At low tide the sea retreats 7km at St Brieux nature reserve making it the place for scallop fishing.
Restaurants - Restaurant L’Express, Pizza 8000, Creperie Saint Yves
Quimper in the south, is the capital of the Finistere region. With a picturesque medieval old town, a maze of narrow streets and half-timbered houses, it has the ambience of a much smaller town with an almost rustic charm. Spanning the river L’Odet, there are great views from the many bridges and it’s only 15 minutes from the coast and fabulous beaches.
Restaurants - Creperie de la Gare, La Tour d’Auvergne and La Bottega
Quimperle to the south east spans three rivers and it appears to be built above the water. Famous for its Friday market, there’s also a daily fish market, it’s a fantastic town to explore with meandering medieval streets where you’ll discover charming cafes and restaurants. Lots of walks in the surrounding countryside and beside the rivers, which are also good for kayak or canoe tours.
Restaurants - Bistro de la Tour, L’Assiette de i’Isole, Le Relais du Roch and Pizzaria Dom Morice.
Close by is the delightful resort town of Moelan sur Mer, in spite of its name, the town is not actually on the sea but close to several stunning beaches, creeks and river inlets with oyster beds. Walking trails, mountain bike trails, fishing, boating and sea cruises. Good selection of restaurants and shops, a bustling market on Tuesdays, nearby Port Belon has fresh fish sales from the quayside each day.
Restaurants - Pizzeria Odyssee, La Creperie du Garzon, and Le Raphael in the hotel Les Moulins du Duc.
Concarneau is a busy fishing port and a hub for pleasure boats and sailing, it’s also one of the most visited places in Brittany, discovering the boutiques, galleries, cafes and restaurants of the old walled city is a must. Hosts a folklore festival in August, beautiful beaches close by and excursions from the port to the island of Glenan.
Restaurants - Chez Armande, L’Ancre and La Croisiere
THE BEST BEACHES
With 300 miles of coastline and so many fantastic sandy beaches, it’s a tough call actually selecting a list but here goes…
Brignogan lies on the ‘Coast of Legends’ populated with ‘monstrous’ animal-shaped rocks dotted with rock pools and long white sandy beaches. Of the 10 beaches in Brignogan, Plage des Crapauds has fine white sand, there’s plenty to do here for all the family with a wide range of water sports and several places for refreshments if you forget the picnic.
The Plage de la Baie des Trepasses is the most westerly beach in Brittany, white sand and usually reliable waves for fun in the water and surfing. Closer to the town of Douarnenez and in the shelter of the bay is Plage de Kervel, another long stunning beach backed by low cliffs.
Within easy reach of the major centres of Fousnant, Quimper and Quimperle are a series of stunning white sand beaches at Beg Meil, Cap Coz and Mousterlin. Further east towards Moelan are smaller, more intimate coves; Kerfany and Trenez have rock pools to explore at low tide and Plage du Kerou at Clohars Carnoet has reliable waves making it popular with surfers. You can enjoy refreshments and good restaurants within easy reach of the sands.
COTES D’ ARMOR
Lovely beaches around Saint Quay Portrieux and the resort of Goelo has five beaches to choose from as well as a beautiful coastal path around the coves. Head to Saint Brieuc and enjoy over 30 miles of coastline with some wonderful beaches. Binic just to the north has one of the longest, broadest stretches of sand, Plage de la Banche, even at high tide there’s plenty of space on the sand for volley ball courts, beach football pitches and kid’s holiday clubs.
COASTLINE AND WATERSPORTS
The warm waters of the Gulf stream make the climate mild in winter, pleasantly warm in summer and cleans the countless beaches around the stunning coastline twice per day. It’s generally pleasant to swim or play in the sea from the pretty coves and most beaches shelve gently, making them ideal for families with young children.
There’s also a wonderfully wide choice of water sports in Brittany; sailing is very popular and there are numerous sailing schools around the coast where you can have fun learning a new skill. The coastal inlets and sheltered bays create perfect conditions for windsurfing and water skiing, whilst surfing is very popular on many south-west facing beaches, whether you take part or just spectate it’s great fun and you’ll find quite a vibrant surf scene.
Holiday Villas in Brittany:
At the Holiday Villa Company, we are particularly pleased to offer this hand-picked selection of villas with private pools to our holiday programme. They are all villas that meet our high standards and offer our guests a certain 'Something Special', we believe no holiday villa in France would be complete without those home-from-home comforts. If you're looking for family holiday villas in Brittany with excellent facilities, then we have a fine selection in and around Josselin, Quimperle, Quimper and Roscoff.
Holiday villas Brittany France - Region overview:
Our Brittany villas are located in the UK's favourite area of France. For generations we Brits have made the short hop over the channel to enjoy Brittany's fabulous beaches, sail the clear seas and savour the freshly caught seafood that is simply prepared and proudly presented. For generations we have enjoyed the unique traditions of Brittany's proud people and appreciated the ancient architecture of its churches and villages.
Holiday villas Brittany France - Brittany coastline:
For those of you who are new to holidays in France, and for families who don't want to travel too far, Brittany is an ideal holiday destination. Brittany's southern coast offers sheltered bays with clean seas and gently sloping sandy beaches; the west coast offers magnificent surfing and dramatic cliffs. Brittany's northern coast is distinct again with the dramatic pink granite formations of the Cote Rose. Inland Brittany is largely unspoiled with gently rolling countryside dotted with charming, sleepy French villages.
Holiday villas Brittany France - Gastronomy:
On holiday in Brittany you will notice people queuing outside fishmongers at particular times on certain days, why? Because they will be waiting to buy the fresh catch and get it home to cook as fresh as possible. You're welcome to join in, the Bretons really want to share their cuisine with visitors. There is an abundance and variety in this area which is unmatched throughout France and this is superbly complemented by the numerous delicious local ciders.
Holiday villas Brittany France - Eating out:
The restaurants in Brittany cater for all tastes, families are made welcome and you will notice that the prices are generally very reasonable. Many coastal Brittany restaurants have stunning sea views and there are characterful restaurants inland that serve local fayre and fresh produce.
If you really want to push the boat out on your villa holiday in Brittany, there are also top quality eateries in the area. But it's the generally relaxed French approach and copious servings that we enjoy most here - and the service is invariably friendly too.
Holiday villas Brittany France - Beaches and watersports:
The sea lapping the Brittany coastline is warmed by the Gulf Stream around Finistere and the Golf du Morbihan. It is generally pleasant to swim in and most Brittany beaches are gently sloping; some set in sheltered coves ideal for family bathing. There are a wide range of watersports in Brittany; sailing is very popular and the numerous coastal inlets create perfect conditions for windsurfing and water skiing.
Holiday villas Brittany France - History and Tradition:
Provincial entertainment is easily found in Brittany, more often than not there will be a village fete or concert in a local town or village close to your Brittany holiday villa. These events invariably finish with everyone joining the dancing. The local music stems mainly from Celtic roots and is similar to Irish or Cornish folk music. Sadly few locals still wear traditional dress but if you're lucky may see ladies still parading in them at local festivals in Brittany. The Bretons are a proud race with their own language and many traditions are still practiced.
The Brittany region is scattered with many fascinating archeological sites, such as the standing stones (menhirs) of Carnac. As well as Brittany's culture and history, the shopping in towns such as Quimper and Vannes is also very good.
Holiday villas Brittany France - Getting here:
One of the main reasons why Brittany is so popular with holidaymakers from the UK is its ease of access by car. The area is served by regular ferries from the UK into Roscoff, St Malo, Caen and Cherbourg. Many of the ferries are fastcraft. There is also an increasing number of low cost flights to Brittany which makes the area increasingly convenient to access.