The first time we came to Brittany was in 2017 for a fair in Saint-Malo. We had planned to use this event as an opportunity to visit the region for a week or two… and as a result, we loved Brittany so much that we stayed there for 5 weeks! (and still, we had to go back lol).
Since then, we came back there twice more: when we were writing Beer hiking in France and more recently when writing our future book Beer hiking in Brittany (which will be released in May 2022). Moreover, for the writing of this last one, we travelled all over Brittany with our van during 2 complete months.
In other words, we’ve been around Brittany for a while now and one thing that surprised us was the amount of beautiful towns and villages we discovered there. So we thought today that we would share with you in this blog post our favorite towns and villages in Brittany sorted by department. We hope you’ll enjoy this!
Note: Obviously we did not visit all the villages of Brittany and this selection was made among those we visited. If you have other recommendations, don’t hesitate to leave a comment at the end of the article to share them with everyone 😉 .
- Our favorite villages (and towns) in Ille-et-Vilaine
- Our favorite villages (and towns) in Morbihan
- Our favorite villages (and towns) in Finistère
- Our favorite villages (and towns) in the côtes d’Armor
- Map of our favourite villages in Brittany
Our favorite villages (and towns) in Ille-et-Vilaine
Let’s start with the city where it all began: Saint-Malo! When you visit the old city center for the first time, it is impossible to imagine that it was in fact almost completely destroyed during the 2nd world war (only the walls were left). A big effort was made to rebuild it in a similar style and we must say that it was quite successful. It is really nice to stroll in the cobbled streets and to walk around the city on the walls. And then there is also the show of the high tides which is really impressive for the Swiss people that we are 😉
One of the reasons we’ve come back to Brittany so many times is also our love for beautiful hikes and craft beer.
In 2022, we published a new book called “Randos Bière en Bretagne”, a hiking guide that offers 40 itineraries through Brittany and with the particularity of always ending with a local, craft beer.
Thanks to this guide you will be able to discover the rich diversity of Brittany’s landscapes but also of its brewing scene.
The book is not translated into English (only available in French), but if you speak a little French, it may give you some ideas!
You can find the book in most bookshops in Brittany as well as on the following websites
We had never heard of the small medieval town of Fougères and yet it was one of our most exciting discoveries during our last trip to Brittany. Its impressive castle is the largest medieval fortress in Europe! ( you didn’t know it either hey? 😉 ). We really felt like we were transported back to the Middle Ages while walking on the city walls and in front of the beautiful half-timbered houses of the medieval quarter. It is in our opinion a stop not to be missed ideally located at the entry of Brittany.
The village of Paimpont is located in the heart of the Broceliande forest, along a beautiful pond. With its pretty sandstone houses typical of Brittany and its abbey dating back to the 7th century, the village of Paimpont does not lack charm. But more than the village itself, it is the surrounding forest which is full of secrets. Don’t hesitate to wander through it and who knows, maybe you will meet fairies, elves, goblins or other Korrigans who fuel the tales and legends of Brittany.
Our favorite villages (and towns) in Morbihan
We change department to arrive in Morbihan, on the pretty little town of Malestroit. Nestled at the confluence of the Nantes to Brest canal and the Oust river, we really enjoyed walking on the towpath, from lock to lock along the canal. We also enjoyed sitting on a terrace of the Bouffay square to admire the beautiful granite or wood-framed houses. And if you like craft beer, don’t miss the delicious hoppy beverages of “La Barque” at the Belle Écope (without any doubt one of our favorite breweries in Brittany)
This village was not elected most beautiful village of France in 2016 for nothing! It is a real pleasure to walk in its paved streets, at the foot of its numerous classified houses, each one more beautiful than the other. At the top of the hill which dominates the Geuzon valley is the Rochefort castle, which was magnificently renovated by the painter Alfred Klots. It was also Klots who had the idea of launching a competition for flowered windows here, a competition that has become the well-known “village fleuri” label. We would also suggest you to come here out of the summer season and to take the time to go hiking on the surrounding trails (pond of the Moulin Neuf, slate quarries of Pluherlin).
We really appreciated the city of Vannes, capital of Morbihan. This city has many interesting facets such as its port in the heart of the city, its old medieval center, its natural surroundings towards the peninsula of Conleau and its walls surrounded by gardens. Of course you will find all the attractions of a city (many bars-restaurants, cultural activities) with an ideal location in the heart of the Morbihan Gulf. we warmly recommend it!
Sauzon is a charming little port located on the island of Belle-île-en-mer, south of the Quiberon peninsula. Situated on the left bank of a small estuary, its colorful houses and sunny terraces will invite you to a contemplative break in front of the port. If you have time, we recommend you to follow the coastal path to go on the right bank of the estuary, preserved from any construction. From there you will have a magnificent view of the docks, a perspective that has inspired many painters.
Port-Louis and Gâvres
The town of Port-Louis and the peninsula of Gâvres are located at the entrance of the Lorient bay. The citadel of Port-Louis was in fact the place chosen at the time as a site for the East India Company and today it houses a museum that traces its history. From Port-Louis you can take a small boat (5 minutes crossing) to reach the peninsula of Gâvres and the Grande Plage, a huge arc of sand that extends to Quiberon.
If you pass by the center of Brittany, you can make a small stop in the medieval village of Guémené-sur-Scorff. In addition to its pretty built heritage, this village is especially known to be the official city of andouille. We’ll admit that we don’t really like the andouille of Guémené (I swear we tasted it… so we’re speaking from experience). But in Brittany the andouille is a very popular product that you will find on the menu of most of the crêperies. In short, if you like it, you will find it all over Guémené, especially if you go to the andouille house 😉
Our favorite villages (and towns) in Finistère
Less known than its almost homonym, Quimperlé is nevertheless a small city which we liked a lot. Located at the entrance of the south Finistère, at the confluence of the Ellé and the Isole rivers which give birth to the Laïta and its 15kms long estuary. We enjoyed getting lost in its medieval streets, eating good local food (and a craft beer) on the terrace of the Wagon-lit, walking along the Laïta river at the rhythm of the tides until the forest of Carnoët. Don’t hesitate to stop there if you are in the area!
Concarneau is of course very famous for its old town which is one of the most visited sites in Brittany (to be visited in the morning or off season preferably). But if you want our opinion, it would be a shame to limit yourself to this small part of the city! We also enjoyed walking to the beach of Sables Blancs and then continuing on the coastal path to the cove of Saint-Jean.
Sainte-Marine is in fact a charming little fishing port located in a small cove just opposite the village of Benodet. These two localities are on the edge of the Odet estuary, just before it reaches the ocean. It is in fact our friend Gégé who made us discover Sainte-Marine, its port and its pretty sunny terraces where it is good to have a meal. Really, we highly recommend it!
It is really nice to stroll in the narrow streets of the old Quimper, capital of Finistère. At each corner you will discover a new half-timbered house more beautiful than the previous one to finish on the place Corentin and its magnificent cathedral. Otherwise in Quimper we recommend you to stop to eat Kouignettes, which are in fact mini kouign amanns (a good excuse to eat more). And if you are looking for an unusual accommodation in Quimper, you can go camping (tent, van…) in the gardens of the Lanniron castle… Really, the setting is not bad for a camping 😉
Located in the Goyen estuary, Audierne is another charming little fishing port that we liked during our visit. If you are interested in a trip to the Ile-de-Sein, you’ll embark from Audiern. And if you are more interested in walking on the mainland, we suggest you to walk on both sides of the Goyen river to the village of Pont-Croix that we are going to present you just below.
As I was telling you, we discovered the village of Pont-Croix while walking from Audierne along the Goyen. It is located on a hillock which overhangs the river and is not lacking in character. We met several people painting in the paved streets or along the Goyen river, and we can easily understand why.
Locronan is perhaps the most touristic village we have visited in Brittany and it is not a coincidence. The old village is composed of magnificent granite houses that surround the imposing Saint-Ronan church. As soon as you enter the village, you are transported back to the 15th century, when Locronan became rich thanks to the weaving of sailcloth. And if you are a fan of artisanal beers, stop by Au Loup Garou Gourmand which has one of the best choices of local craft beers we have seen in Brittany.
Le Faou is a small village located at the heart of the regional natural park of Armorique, at the end of a ria in the bay of Brest. It is notably known for being one of the rare villages to have preserved magnificent houses with slate facades. So if you are on your way to the peninsula of Crozon, don’t hesitate to make a little stop in Le Faou to admire its beautiful buildings.
Le Conquet is a bit like the port “at the end of the world” since it is the most western fishing port in Brittany. In addition to its location around a beautiful estuary and its beautiful built heritage, it is also the ideal base to discover the Pointe Saint-Mathieu and its impressive Abbey. It is also the opportunity to make a nice walk on the coastal path between the village and the Pointe Saint-Matthieu.
Our favorite villages (and towns) in the côtes d’Armor
Ploumanac’h is the only village in Brittany with Rochefort-en-terre to have been elected “favorite village of the French” (in 2015). Well Ploumanac’h has indeed a lot of assets up its sleeve! Located in the heart of the famous pink granite coast, you will be able to walk around and discover these curious chaos of rocks sculpted by millions of years of erosion. In addition, in Ploumanac’h you can also admire what is perhaps the most famous lighthouse in Brittany: the Men Ruz lighthouse (or pink granite lighthouse)
Historical capital of the Trégor region, the small city of Tréguier is built on a hillock surrounded by the Jaudy and the Guindy rivers which join to form the Tréguier estuary. Its magnificently preserved historical center is built around the imposing cathedral of Saint-Tugdual. Walking through the alleys, under the beautiful half-timbered houses, one had again the impression to be transported to the Middle Ages.
If you are a soccer fan, you have certainly already heard of Guingamp for its soccer club l’En avant which has been several years in the French soccer elite (which is quite crazy for a town of this size). But Guingamp has many other assets up its sleeve. The city was built on the banks of the Trieux river already in the 11th century and has a rich historical past. We particularly loved to walk on the new footbridges which overhang the Trieux and to discover the various architectural styles by strolling in the alleys.
Moncontour is a beautiful little medieval village built on a hillock, surrounded by its walls. We really enjoyed walking through its charming streets and tasting the rocks of Moncontour at the village patisserie. If you have time, we also recommend you to walk to the Notre-Dame-Du-Haut chapel along a canal which is still in water (and which used to run a mill at the time) and which will take you to a pretty forest.
Dinan – Léhon
We finish this list in style with the city of Dinan and the small village of Léhon (which is hardly 2kms from Dinan). Dinan is perhaps our favorite city in Brittany because we feel like we are in another time in its alleys! From the beautiful port on the Rance river to the old medieval center through the steep street of Jerzual, it’s a permanent show! And we also recommend you to walk on the towpath along the Rance river to the magnificent abbey of Léhon which is worth a visit (4kms round trip).
Map of our favourite villages in Brittany
To help you visualize better, here are all the localities mentioned in the article on an interactive map:
We hope that you will like this selection and that it will give you some ideas for your next trips in Brittany. Obviously, as I said at the beginning of the article, we don’t pretend to have visited all the cities and villages of Brittany. So if you have other suggestions to make, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below to complete this list. Like that we will have something to do during our next trip in Brittany 😉