Top 12 Awesome Things to do in Brittany

I love the lovely region of Brittany. It’s one of the great historic provinces of France, located in the northwest. It’s my most favorite place in France for so many reasons – great diversity and unique with its remarkable history and Celtic heritage, spectacular natural landscape, gorgeous beaches, and excellent cuisine. To me, even the most idyllic postcard perfect picture of Brittany does not do justice to the place.

Brittany

Typical flower in Brittany

There are so many activities for visitors to enjoy during a stay in Finisterre – meander through the countryside or organize a tour of any of the region’s historic place. Brittany is all about living the good life – nature, heritage, good food and cider, and incredible people. Personally, after a month of stay in Brittany, I found it incredibly difficult to leave.

Love this garden in Roscoff

Since Brittany is a popular location for family holidays in France, here’s my top 12 awesome things to see and do when you visit this impressive region:

1.Wander along Carnac’s long and mysterious rows of standing stones.

The magnificent collection of Standing Stones in Carnac is one of the most extraordinary sites of Brittany. While you can find isolated manmade standing stones scattered throughout the whole region, Carnac features miles and miles of aligned standing stone. It has been protected by UNESCO World Heritage since 1996. We went there with our friends to see the exceptional 6000 years old Neolithic sites and the largest megalithic sites in the world.

Carnac

Carnac

2. Visit the 2nd oldest manmade  monument in the world.

The great Cairn de Barnenez is truly amazing – big pile of stones (75m long, 28m wide, 8m high) and very old (about 7,000 years old) as it was built between 4,800 and 4,000 B.C on a hill overlooking the Bay of Morlaix. It is known as the oldest and largest megalithic burial chamber in Europe, and the second oldest manmade monument in the world.
Did you know? It is about 2,000 years older than the first step pyramid of Egypt and it is much bigger than Stonehenge in the UK.

Cairn de Barnenez

Cairn de Barnenez

3. Explore the beautiful castles.

If you are tired of laying in the sunshine, there are quite a few beautiful castles in Brittany to explore and enjoy. We have visited the following: The Château de Brest (Castle of Brest), which has about 1700 years of history, and considered as the oldest castle in the world still in use. The Château du Taureau (Castle of the Bull), a 16th century defensive castle (about 500 year old castle) which has a messy past but also had lots of different uses in its history. The 16th century Château de Kerjean (Castle of Kerjean), which was originally built as a home for the Barbier family. It was open to the public in 2005 after being restored in the early 21st century.

The Castle of Brest

The Castle of the Bull

The Castle of Kerjean

4. Discover the amazing churches and abbeys.

In Brittany, I love the ancient, massive and elaborately embellished Catholic parish churches. We have visited at least 6 parishes: The Le Folgoet Notre Dame Basilica of the Virgin Mary is a gem of Gothic Flamboyant architecture as it has stunning beautiful Gothic style towers and stunning stained glasses. The Saint Thegonnec Church is famous for its funerary chapel and triumphal arch. The Guimiliau church in the village of Guimiliau is populary known for having the largest calvaries in the region, which are sculpted with about 200 figures. The Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle in the little town of Locronan is one of the 12 stages along the pilgrimage route called Grande Troménie. The 16th century Notre Dame de Croaz Batz in Roscoff is well-known for its unique elegant Renaissance style bell tower.  The Cathedrale of St Corentin in Quimper is lauded to be the most beautiful gothic building in Brittany with its majestic stained glass windows.

Le Folgoet Notre Dame Basilica of the Virgin Mary

Saint Thegonnec Church

Chapelle Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle

Notre Dame de Croaz Batz

Cathedrale of St Corentin

5. Amble in the medieval towns.

There are so many medieval towns scattered everywhere in Brittany. Walking through the narrow, winding medieval lanes is all part and parcel of Brittany’s charms. In fact, we had a beautiful walk in the famous town of Locronan which has been listed as a Historic Monument in 1924 and has been awarded the title of most beautiful village in France. Landerneau is another gorgeous medieval town known for its remarkable architectural heritage most specifically the Rohan Bridge, built in the 16th century and inhabited for more than 500 years.
Did you know? Rohan Bridge is the only bridge in Europe that has still people living on it up to these days.

The little town of Locronan

Behind me is the Rohan Bridge in Landerneau.

6. Stroll in Foret de Huelgoat.

I love the stunning landscape and enchanting views in Foret de Huelgoat. It is a charming place to visit for an easy good walk or a picnic. Just time it right with the weather and stroll around the forest for a wonderfully enchanting excursion. In there you can find a great “chaos”, a large collection of huge boulders left after a glacier has melted.

Huelgoat

Huelgoat

7. Hill walking in the Moors of Cragou.

Are you fed up with seaside views but still up for a walk? In a beautiful area in Brittany, not far away from the ocean and with a fabulous climate, lies the wild Moors of Cragou. It is a Reserve area and serves as a haven for the wildlife so that the animals and plants can reproduce. In this area, people are forbidden to build houses, buildings or roads. The rocks stand 282 m above the sea level and remain untouched by mankind, with the exception of a few brave hill-walkers.

Moors of Cragou

Moors of Cragou

8. Day trip to Brittany’s islands.

Apart from its quaint villages, historic towns and breathtaking countryside, Brittany is also known for its pretty islands where you can have a perfect and peaceful break. While we were in Brittany, we hopped to Ile de Batz, one of its beautiful islands. We had a fantastic time there and one of the activities that I would never forget was when we leisurely walked around the whole island while enjoying its superb landscape. Indeed, it’s an exotic gem.

The island of Batz

The island of Batz

The island of Batz

9. Enjoy the magnificent coastal scenery.

Who wouldn’t love wonderful coastal scenery with rich flora and fauna, solitary lighthouses, pretty harbors, dramatic cliffs, amazing rock formations sculpted by the waves? There, the Channel sea meets the Atlantic ocean. The coastal area around Pointe Saint Mathieu provides a splendid views of the coast and a walking area for those who are nature lovers. The extraordinary coastal hamlet of Meneham is notable for its 17th century coastguard’s cottage with a stone roof surrounded by great boulders that are also scattered along the Kerlouan coastline. I am sure you’ll be bewitched by the serene landscapes because everywhere you turn the view is beautiful.

Pointe Saint Mathieu

Kerlouan

Hamlet of Meneham

10. Laze at Brittany’s lovely beaches.

Brittany has loads of great sandy beaches. I noticed that they are rarely really crowded because the water is so cold. Personally, I love the beach, though! We usually go to the Pontusval and Keremma. In Pontusval you can see a lighthouse, the water is very clear and many rocks that have formed intriguing shapes are scattered everywhere, while in Keremma there’s a 6km line of sand dunes (slowly disappearing though L) and translucent water. There are many seaside activities and watersports to enjoy – sunbathing, swimming, fishing, shellfish gathering, diving, sailing, kayaking, etc. The beaches in Brittany are simply a must see!

Pontusval Beach

Pontusval

Keremma Beach

Kerlouan Beach

11. Smack Breton luscious food.

Another thing that you should not miss when you are in Brittany is to try their delicious food – oysters, crepe, Breton butter cake and many more. If you are an oyster lover you can find great oysters in Cancale, a small town in Brittany. Crepe is a traditional Breton food. There are sweet crepes which are made with wheat flour and savory crepes made with buckwheat flour. The Breton butter cake (Kouign Amann) is a rich, mouth-watering dessert made of dough, butter and sugar.

Crêpe Flambée

Breton butter cake (Kouign Amann)

12. Don’t forget to taste Cider.

Even though Brittany does not produce wine, it produces Cider which is considered as Breton’s traditional drink. It is usually drank from clay cups to bring out the earthy flavor of the cider.

France: Château du Taureau

France is renowned for its magnificent castles – from defensive castles to residential castles. In fact, all regions in France have castles open for visit with their own fascinating story to tell.

Château du Taureau also known as the Castle of the Bull. :-)

Château du Taureau also known as the Castle of the Bull. 🙂

One of the beautiful pictures we captured while we were on the boat.

One of the beautiful pictures we captured while we were on the boat.

We took a boat to visit the Château du Taureau (Castle of the Bull), a 16th century island fortress redesigned by Vauban (famous French military architect during the 16th/early 17th century) while we were in Brittany. It is certainly a surprising place, situated in one of the loveliest bays of Brittany in the north-west of France, that was built on a rock in the Bay of Morlaix and welcomes you with open arms.

At the top level of the castle.

At the top level of the castle.

Excited to get into the castle.

Excited to get into the castle.

The boat that took us to the castle.

The boat that took us to the castle.

This 500 year old castle has a messy past and has had many different uses in its history – defensive building against the English raiders at first, then used as a prison where some of the first French Revolutionaries were locked away, then a residence in the 1930s, then it was occupied by the German forces during World War II, then recently a sailing school till 1980 and finally now a museum.

At the first level of the castle.

At the first level of the castle.

At the terrace.

At the terrace.

The tour started with a beautiful commentary by our guide while we were on a boat. One of the amazing things I have learned from our guide was about a black species of bird that thrives in the Bay (I can’t remember the exact name of the bird), which is able to dive 30 meters deep into the sea and stay there for about 3 minutes. In addition, our guide gave us information about the islands surrounding the area. On top of it, the views were great from the boat.

Beautiful view of the port from our boat.

Beautiful view of the port from our boat.

The view of the other side of the port.

The view of the other side of the port.

After a 45 minutes boat trip from Le Diben port, we reached this wonderful fortress. It is beautifully restored and has been renovated over the years as some parts were destroyed during the revolution. As soon as we arrived in the fort, the guide gave us a very clear picture of the history of fortress and then we were free to wander around for about an hour and let our imaginations wonder. The rooms are mostly empty except for activities such as chess, domino, etc. While roaming around, I could imagine what life would have been like for a prisoner of soldier inside this building.

When our guide told us the brief history of the castle.

When our guide told us the brief history of the castle.

One of the rooms in the castle.

One of the rooms in the castle.

Inside the castle.

Inside the castle.

In another room.

In another room.

To me, exploring the Château du Taureau is more than just another visit, this is a journey into the heart of History itself, and a tribute to the memories of the Bay area whose natural treasures are still intact. We meandered around the place, explored the bunkers on the terrace area, strolled along the passageways and had a look at the drawbridge. There are lots of rooms for wonderful panoramic views and stunning 360 degrees views from the terrace.

The view from the terrace.

The view from the terrace.

The view from the boat.

The view from the boat.

Another view from the terrace.

Another view from the terrace.

Our tour at the castle of the Bull was very nice and it was an excellent historical visit. The castle is rooted in local history and it was explained and presented well by our guide who knew how to tell it with passion. It was an experience to discover and it’s pretty rare to see a strong open sea.

One of the windows in the castle where the canon was used to be placed.

One of the windows in the castle where the canon was used to be placed.

If you wish to go there, there are many kinds of visits and many ways to feel the magic of a place such as – a guided tour, a theatrical encounter, a singing or a storytelling experience. In addition, this year, the Château du Taureau has offered new things to do including picnic spots, historic visits and “pirates for little ones” activities.

On the boat and our way to visit the Castle of the Bull.

On the boat and our way to visit the Castle of the Bull.

An island near the castle that people can rent.

An island near the castle that people can rent.

At Le Diben Port.

At Le Diben Port.

Trivia: the Castle of the Bull, because of its location, remains a fairly isolated place. The German army had a garrison there during the Second World War. When Germany capitulated, the garrison at the Castle of the Bull was so isolated that they did not hear about it. The U.S. army had to send a battalion to the castle to inform the surprised German occupants that they had lost the war about a month ago. The US officer in charge of this battalion returned as a tourist to visit the castle in the 1970s.

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • You need to book the trip in advance because the tides do not allow access by boat throughout the whole day.
  • It is not accessible by wheelchair, as there are steps from the boat to the entrance, and in between all levels of the building.
  • A great castle to visit for kids (at any age) and adults alike.
  • All visitors are free to roam around the three levels of the building.
  • There was no toilet in the fort for the public, but there were two on our boat.
  • There is a small gift shop in the fort.
  • When the bells ring, you have to say goodbye to the castle and return to the ship.
  • There is an island near the castle that people can rent.

Have you visited the Château du Taureau? What’s your favourite experience?