Actually, this was supposed to be a post about the magnificent mountains in Georgia, but unfortunately I had to cancel this trip due to the travel restrictions. So, my mum (my travel companion for this trip) and I spontaneously decided to grab the car and drive to La Belle France! Coming from the Netherlands, we didn’t want to go all the way to the South, so we decided to go to Brittany which was a really good decision! Brittany is a really beautiful area with lots to do. Only disadvantage: we traveled in August which is in the middle of the high season. Most places were pretty packed, some to a point where it was difficult to actually enjoy the experience.
Despite the mass tourism, I’m still very happy that we went and I can still wholeheartedly recommend Brittany as a travel destination (though probably rather off-season). Fortunately, not all places were equally crowded and we also found ourselves in very pleasant and calm places. Furthermore, we also got to understand why all those people flock to all places: they are beautiful! Especially Brittany has really a lot to offer and in this post I want to share with you the highlights of this wonderful place.
Coming from Normandy we decided to stop on the road at Mont-Saint-Michel. Officially, this part belongs to Normandy, but I still mention it in this post, as it’s on the border and it can easily be included during a trip through Brittany.
I’m more of a nature kind of person, but since we literally passed by, we decided it’s worth taking a quick look. Little did I know how touristy Mont-Saint-Michel really is. We had to leave the car at a parking lot about 3 kilometres from the island. Unfortunately, we had to pay a full-day ticket (€14) even though we stayed only for 2-3 hours, but generally the French are very generous when it comes to parking (many free parking spaces available), so we can’t really complain.
From the parking lot there are free shuttles that can bring you to the site, but obviously you’ll have to wait in line for a bit and the distance is not that big. We did take the shuttle going there, but on the way back the queue was even longer, so we decided to walk back which is really a doable distance. Besides, it gives you the chance to take a picture from the beautiful abbey without the millions of people walking in front of it ;)
The abbey is built on a very small island just off the coast, so when it’s low tide you can walk around it if you like. Inside it looks like a small village, with many small streets. We were poorly prepared and just walked along the walls which gave a nice view not only of the inside, but also of the views outside.
It’s possible to enter the abbey, but there was a long queue and we were short on time, so we instead just read the information about the site and about the archangel Michael in general. Miraculously, there was no one around those information poles, so we took our time to read about how the archangel Michael appeared to the bishop of this particular monastery. So, if you’re looking for a place where you can chill a bit and breath, look for the information poles ;)
Bay of Saint Brieuc
The Bay of Saint Brieuc seems to be a rather quiet part of Brittany. Even though most of the tourists all over Brittany were French, in this part we only met French tourists (or let’s say French-speaking people, there are loads of Belgians around). Obviously, the beaches and the area can’t compete with the Crozon Peninsula, but the fact that it’s not that crowded is definitely a big plus. The area is still beautiful and you can do some nice and easy hikes, so I’d still recommend going to this area, even if it’s just to relax and unwind.
Pointe de Roselier
Short and easy hike, starting from the viewpoint of Pointe de Roselier. The hike leads along the coast and partly through the village of Plérin, along the corn fields and a short part through the forest. The trail is supposed to be marked, but I found the marks not always helpful, so make sure you have maps.me at hand. This counts, by the way, for all hikes we did in France. I’m so used to hiking in Switzerland where everything is perfectly marked, France seems to be more chaotic. But no worries, with maps.me you’ll always find your way ;)
Compared to the previous hike, this is definitely my favourite. Not only were the views better in my opinion, the hike also passes by a pleasant beach (marked as Plage de Port Jehan on maps.me) which was nearly empty when we arrived at 1pm. The beach is somewhere along the hiking trail, you just need to veer off a bit and descend a bit before you reach the beach. Probably because of it’s rather hidden location, it’s not too crowded.
After we relaxed on this wonderful quiet beach, we continued the hike. The hike led further along the coast, until we reached a viewpoint over the city of Binic. The day we did this hike, it was low tide by the time we reached this point and obviously the view was not that spectacular. But we came back another day while it was high tide which offered a much nice view.
After the viewpoint the trail led us downwards. Here we turned left, back towards Pointe de Pordic. This part leads through a forest again which was surprisingly nice! Parts of the forest were so lush, it almost made us feel like we were in the middle of a jungle!
Once we came out of the forest, we walked through the village. Here, you could either take a short-cut back to Pointe Pordic, or you could hike a little bit longer in order to get a view over the huge Plage de Rosaires. We opted for the latter and enjoyed the last views over the sea before we headed back to our car.
Île-de-Brehat is a tiny 3 km² island off the northern coast of Brittany. It takes only about 10 minutes by ferry to get there, but especially if you’re coming in high season, be aware that you might have to wait in line in order to get the next boat. The ferry officially only comes every half an hour (in high season), according to the website, but they seemed to leave every 15 minutes. The ferry leaves from Pointe de L’Arcouest and you can easily buy return tickets online for € 10.
Obviously, it was crowded on this tiny island which influenced our experience a bit. Therefore, I would only advise to go to the island in the off-season if you really dislike big crowds. The southern part is where the “civilized” part of the island with cute little houses, restaurants, bars etc. The architecture is definitely worth a look, but for me and my mum it was way too crowded, so we made a desperate attempt to flee to the northern part, where there is more nature.
Well, on an island with a surface of 3 km², running from the crowds doesn’t really make a lot of sense, the people were everywhere. We nevertheless managed to find a small “beach” with few people. My mum stayed there and I took some time to explore the area. Due to the low tide I could make my way to a tiny island off the coast. Obviously, on this part there was not a single soul and I just enjoyed jumping from stone to stone, exploring the area and soaking in the tranquility.
Afterwards I walked around the hiking paths a bit. Obviously, the official hiking paths were a lot more crowded, so I ended up rushing through the paths a bit and decided to rather spend some more time with my mum chilling on the quiet beach :)
Ploumanac’h offers a great round tour along the pink granite coast and through the village, passing along several such as an old windmill, a tiny chapel which during high tide is in the water, a lighthouse and obviously a lot of pink granite.
Since it’s a round trip, you can start anywhere. We decided to start at the sculpture park which offers ample parking spaces. From there we did the hike counter clockwise. The parts of the hike through the villages and off the coast were actually very nice and enjoyable. But as soon as we reached the coast it started to become really crowded again. It was even mandatory to wear a mask on this hiking trail, that’s how crowded it was.
Even though some parts of the hike were actually really nice, we rushed through it at the end, fed up with the huge amounts of people. On top of the crowded trails, it was also low tide, so we partly only had a view on some mud. Just like the Île-de-Bréhat, I would recommend to come and visit this part only in the low season and preferably during high tide ;)
This was my very favourite part of Brittany! That’s why I have dedicated an entire post to this part, describing three beautiful hikes you could do on the peninsula. Here, I will just give a short description of the area.
Cap de la Chèvre
This is probably the most famous hike of the area, leading along the Plage de l'Île Vierge, one of the landmarks of the area. The hike leads along wonderful bays with tranquil, crystal clear waters, blooming heather and pine forests on one side.
Once you get to the other side, the scenery changes pretty drastically. Suddenly the forest has disappeared, the heather has extended, the water is much rougher which gives this side of the cape a more dramatic feeling.
We finished off this wonderful day with some relaxation time and a refreshing jump in the water at the Plage de la Palue.
Pointe de Dinan
This short hike basically continues with pretty much the same view: a dramatic coastline and loads of heather in bloom! The highlight is the Pointe de Dinan which is a rock formation with an arch going through it. The views are, just like in the entire area, superb and breathtaking! At the end of this hike we reserved some beach time on the Plage de Goulien.
Pointe Pen-Hir & Plage de Pen Hat
This hike is the shortest of all, but it definitely doesn’t come short in awesome views! It offers even more rock formations and probably the best beach view of the area. The Plage de Pen Hat is by far the most famous beach. Even though it’s officially not allowed to swim (because of the dangerous currents), people still flock to the beach just to watch it from above which is definitely worth it!