Review of our 2 months roadtrip in Brittany during the fall of 2021. Itinerary ideas and budget for a van trip
French Brittany: top travel tips to explore the area
Welcome to our page dedicated to beautiful French Brittany! We came here for the first time in 2017, and have since returned several times. In total, we have spent almost 4 months traveling through the different departments that make up the region. Our last road trip was in the fall of 2021: we stayed 2 months in Brittany to write a new book combining hiking and Breton craft beer (but we'll tell you more about it as soon as the book will be available in bookstores) ;)
Throughout our different experiences in Brittany we have published many articles on the blog. In 2021, we decided to update all these contents and to gather them on this page. You'll find as well our detailed budget for our latest 2-months roadtrip.
- Map of our blog posts on Brittany
- French Brittany in short
- When to come to Brittany? What is the best season to travel there?
- What to do in Brittany? Our favorites by region
- Where to stay in Brittany
- Do not leave Brittany without having tasted these specialties
- Useful resources to prepare your stay in Brittany
- Our blog posts about Brittany
Our blog posts about Brittany
At the end of this page you will find all the articles we have written about Brittany (a lot of hikes, ideas for visits but also a lot of advice for road trips). But if you would rather see our articles according to regions (and not in chronological order), we let you click on the button below to display the map of all our blog posts about Brittany.
French Brittany in short
The region of Brittany is the westernmost part of France and consists of 4 departments: Ill-et-Vilaine, Morbihan, Côtes-d'Armor and Finistère. In all, the region has a population of just over 3 million people. Strong of its history, this region cultivates a strong identity. It's funny because when we were on a world tour, every time we met travelers, we wondered where we came from. Most people tend to answer this question by mentioning their country, but the Bretons were usually the first to say "Bretagne" and not France ;)
For us being from the Swiss mountains, Brittany is above all a region where the change of scenery is almost daily! The whole region is turned towards the sea, and every single time we go there it surprises us by its beauty! Within a few kilometers, we can go from white sandy beaches and turquoise waters to dramatic landscapes with large cliffs and rocks sculpted by the rain and the wind. But the center also conceals many incredible place... The lake of Guerlédan, Huelgoat, the forest of Brocéliande or the charming villages are as many assets which make us leave the coast every single time we visit.
When to come to Brittany? What is the best season to travel there?
Ahh the big question of the "best" time to travel ;) Brittany has a reputation of destination where the weather would be capricious... When we told our friends that we were going to Brittany for 2 months, I think that the sentences we heard the most were "Take your boots and rain jackets! "Oh aren't you afraid that it might be complicated travelling with the van with all this rain?"
Hmmm... how to put it... 2 full months in Brittany and I think we had 3 rainy days (I mean days where it rained all day). The rest of the time we had a wonderful weather! Of course some showers from time to time, but the sun came out almost every day. By the way, it's funny because if we want to talk about statistics, we notice that:
- In Brest, it rains on average 940mm per year
- In Vannes or Rennes? about 750mm per year
- Paris? 720mm per year
- Bordeaux? 810mm per year
- Nice? 900mm per year
- And Biarritz? 1400mm!!!
In short, you can see that some clichés really tend to stick around for no reason... In Brittany it doesn't rain that much and as the locals would say "anyway here it only rains on the jerks" ;)
Then, if we stay in statistics, July and August are obviously the hottest months and the ones with the least rainy days. Nevertheless, it is important to know that it is also the busiest months! More people, higher prices for accommodation, it's getting more complicated to find a parking spot in tourist areas, etc...
For our part, we always chose to come to Brittany in the "in-between seasons", meaning April-May-June and September-October. Each time we loved it!
From November to March it is more the low season. The weather tends to be wetter and colder (like everywhere else, let's face it). We never came at this period but we think that if we are well equipped (against the cold and the wind especially) it must be very nice too! The prices of the accommodations are at the lowest and we would certainly take advantage of the most touristic spots without too many people.
What to do in Brittany? Our favorites by region
North Brittany: wild coasts, sculpted rocks, high tides
In the north of Brittany there are 3 departments: Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d'Armor and Finistère. This coast faces the English Channel and is known to be the ultimate place to observe the phenomenon of high tides. Indeed, since the water is narrower here, the Channel coast is the place in Europe with the highest tidal range. The latter can reach 13 meters! (understand by this the difference between the low and high sea level)
Our favorites on the north coast of Brittany? Oh dear, it is difficult to make an exhaustive list, but spontaneously we would like to tell you that you should not miss: The bay of Mont Saint-Michel (on the Breton side of course ;)), the magnificent fortified city of Saint-Malo, the unmissable Dinan, the Cap Fréhel, the Pink granite coast, Kerlouan and the côte des légendes, le pays des abers and the pointe Saint-Mathieu.
On the blog you will find all our travel tips on the north coast in 3 articles:
Southern Brittany: Beaches, cliffs and beautiful towns
On the south coast of Brittany there are 2 departments: Finistère and Morbihan. The weather tends to be a little warmer in this part of the region and there are perhaps a few more beaches (even though I would not even be sure about this one...). Personally, we had a crush on the Gulf of Morbihan region, Quiberon and the South Finistère in general. And of course Crozon... Although "technically" not on the south coast (it's facing west) it is generally accepted that the peninsula falls under the definition of South Finistère. But in reality, no matter where you put Crozon, it is in our opinion a must-see. In 2017 we had followed the GR34 during 5 days to go around the peninsula; this hike remains one of our best memories of hiking in Brittany! See our article about the Crozon peninsula tour on foot.
If you read us from time to time, you will surely have already noticed that cities are generally not our favorite. But we will admit that in the south of Brittany, several cities surprised us very pleasantly. We really enjoyed visiting Vannes, Concarneau, Audierne, Quimperlé or Quimper.
Central Brittany: Places to discover in the Kreizh Breizh
Brittany is certainly known for its magnificent coasts but in our eyes, it is impossible to come to Brittany without making some forays into the Kreizh Breizh. Central Brittany is full of magnificent natural landscapes and cultivates its traditions assiduously. Broceliande, the Monts d'Arrée or Huelgoat are closely linked to many Celtic tales and legends. And there is no doubt that if there are korrigan and fairies, they are hidden somewhere in these enchanted forests or behind a rock sculpted by the rain.
In central Brittany there is no need to go far to be away from the crowds. Less touristy, this region also offers much more affordable accommodation than on the coast. In our opinion, this is a great advantage if you want to base yourself somewhere and travel both north and south (of course Brittany is not tiny, but being centrally located you can easily reach the coast). For example, from Huelgoat it takes less than an hous to reach the Côte des Légendes, Crozon or Quimper (and Huelgoat also happens to be a really pretty place).
If you want to find all our advices and good addresses in the center of Brittany, take a look at this blog post. We talk about the forest of Broceliande, Guerlédan, the Monts d'Arrée, Huelgoat and many other little gems away from the coast.
The Breton islands
In all, Brittany has nearly 750 islands and islets, so it is almost impossible to visit them all... Nevertheless, planning a trip to a Breton island is in our opinion one of the best ways to discover a new facet of this region. Some of them are inhabited and offer many possibilities of accommodation, others are virgin and it is therefore only possible to go there for a day. But there are more and more islands in Brittany where old lighthouses and small houses are transformed into lodgings and it is possible to spend the night there.
To date, here are the islands we have already visited in Brittany: Groix, Belle île en Mer, Callot Island and the Glénans.
Villages and towns to see in Brittany
In addition to the different regions, there is also one things you should not miss in Brittany: it's the amazing little villages and beautiful towns! Be it from an architectural, historical or cultural perspective, there are so many beautiful places to discover.
To help you pick places to explore, we compiled our favorite towns and villages into one blog post. Read it here.
Where to stay in Brittany?
During our various stays in Brittany we have tested many forms of accommodation and the least we can say is that there is plenty of choice! In 2017 and 2018 we were by car and alternated between campsites (with our tent), gites and hotels in the cities. In 2021, we traveled with our converted van and so this time we spent more nights at rest stops, campsites and a few nature spots. However, we also rented a few accommodations along the way in order to work a little more comfortably (and do our laundry) ;)
To find lodgings and hotels we usually use the Hotelscombined website or we search directly for small lodgings on the websites of the tourist offices. Alternatively, you can also use the Stay22 map of hotels and rentals. Use the filters at the top of the map to refine your search and zoom in on the area of your choice.
Do not leave Brittany without having tasted these specialties
We are not what you could call "foodies", meaning that we never travel for or based on gastronomy... But it's impossible to come to Brittany and not be tempted by some of their specialties. But I warn you, we are not here to be on a diet... As much as the stories of rain in Brittany are an old myth, as much as the consumption of butter we can confirm that it is 100% verified! It made us laugh a lot, because I think we must have eaten as much butter in 2 months as we have in the last 10 years. And no, I'm not exaggerating, because Benoit and I are among the "weird" people (according to the Breton people) who never have butter in our house. If a recipe implies butter, I can buy a packet but otherwise we cook with olive oil and our bread we eat without butter... haha
Let's start with the sweet Breton specialties if you like:
- Le Kouign Amann: The Breton speciality... At the base there is a bread dough and it is folded many times the whole generously sprinkled with butter and sugar.
- Les palets /sablés bretons: The "classic" butter cookies are found everywhere! It made us laugh to see that almost every place has its own cookie factory...
- Le caramel au beurre salé: As a candy, to spread no matter what form it takes, it is always so good! We admit it, it had become a bit of a drug...
- Les crêpes au froment: What would be Brittany without delicious crêpes? Hmm impossible to tell you how many we ate, but many... our preference? The ones with salted butter caramel of course!
- Le far breton: A surprise in the Breton desserts because... its recipe does not contain butter (or very little depending on the recipe)! :)
In terms of salty, the Breton specialties are:
- Les galettes de sarrasin: The Breton classic, and there is no need to say they always taste different when you eat them in Brittany.
- Le Kig-Ha-Farz: We are not big meat eaters with Benoit, but we had still tasted this dish in 2018. Meat served with vegetables and wheat and buckwheat flour. But the particularity of the dish is surely the sauce served with a ladle on top: the lipig. Its composition? Ohhh 100% butter and onions.
- L'andouille de Guéméné: Typical on the galettes and at the aperitif, this sausage is a real specialty. We admit it, we did not like it at all... but well, it is local and the majority of the Bretons are fond of it.
- Seafood: Since we live almost 500km from any sea, this is something very unusal for us... Cockles, mussels, oysters, razor clams, periwinkles, whelks, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, langoustines or scallops are some of the dishes that we have tasted for the first time in Brittany. When it's fresh like in Brittany, it would be stupid not to taste it, especially since there are many producers where you can go directly to get supplies or go fishing by yourself if you know how to do it (which is obviously not our case).
Useful resources to prepare your stay in Brittany
- In our guide Randos bière en France you will find 5 beer hikes which are 100% Breton. An edition dedicated to Brittany will arrive soon (with 40 new routes). (in French only)
- The Brittany Tourism website is a very good reference for general information and especially to get to the sites of the regional offices.
- If you want to organize a tailor-made trip we advise you to visit the website of Evaneos. Known for their responsible approach, they can be a good option for those who would like to plan a cycling/hiking trip without worrying about logistics or for a discovery program.
- For more unusual stays or activities (such as fly fishing in the Monts d'arrée) we advise you to check the offers on Chilowé
- For day trips (for example a guided tour of Brest or an excursion to the coast of legends) we advise you to have a look at the Civitatis website.
Note: This page contains affiliate links. By going through our links you do not pay anything more but it allows us to get a small commission and to continue to offer you independent and free contents. All our stays in Brittany have been made privately and without partner.