Although it doesn’t rank among the most exhilarating destinations, Brittany is one of those places that enchant us from the moment we set foot there. Whether it’s for its arid scenery that could be attributed toIreland, its thousand and one crêperies that you can’t get enough of, its verdant mountains that tumble into crystal-clear waters, this region – whose rainy skies don’t earn it the best reputation – leaves no one indifferent. A look at 17 places to head for on your next road trip in Brittany.
Brittany - From Lorient to the Pointe du Raz
With a thirst for wide open spaces and a change of scenery, Lorient was not on my Breton itinerary. I preferred to face the ocean rather than anchor myself in the region’s cities. If you’re looking to put down roots in a festive city with a mix of wide open spaces, art de vivre, culture and good places to eat, don’t hesitate to add Lorient to your itinerary. The beating heart of the Compagnie des Indes, the city cultivates the spirit of great epics.
At the gateway to Finistère lies a modest village which, although rarely mentioned on classic Breton tourist itineraries, is a real must-see: Doëlan. Small coastal fishing boats, green lighthouse, white houses… Nestled in its ria, a tidal river that empties and fills twice a day, between the oyster-farming sites of the Bélon and the Laïta river, Doëlan is one of the best-kept secrets of the South Brittany. A secret discovered by writer Benoîte Groulx, who had a second home here until her death in 2016.
Penmarc’h promises to seduce wave lovers. Plage de la Torche, in the north of the commune, is a long, sandy beach with strong waves all year round. With no rocks, beginners and experts alike can surf without worry.
Not keen on the idea of spending hours on a board? Put on your hiking boots and head for the Eckmühl lighthouse, surrounded by picturesque protected marshes and three marinas.
Nestled between green hills and an intimate cove, Lesven is a beach on a human scale. Even in the heart of August, Brittany’s high season, you can spend sweet moments of solitude here, with the only melody being that of the waves breaking on the rocks. And don’t forget your water shoes, as there are plenty of pebbles.
Active types will love the hilly paths of the GR 34, which can be followed from the beach. Whether you head east or west, you’ll come across a multitude of coves, beaches and cliffs.
Baie des Trépassés
Baie des Trépassés is one of Finistère’s most famous landmarks, and it’s easy to see why. Framed by the Pointe du Raz and the Pointe du Van, this famous beach is renowned for its crystal-clear water, tireless swell and the thousand and one caves and cliffs you can discover at low tide.
Despite its name, which naturally invites legends, and a face that’s the antithesis of what its appellation suggests, this little coastal Eden – with its sumptuous panoramic views over the Atlantic – is painted in soft shades of blue and green all year round, encouraging us to daydream.
Pointe du Raz
From Baie des Trépassés, head southwest to Pointe du Raz, home to Notre-Dame des Naufragés and sumptuous vantage points from which to contemplate the infinity of the Atlantic. In this setting of high cliffs covered with moorland, the hike to the Pointe du Raz – although exposed to the waves and winds – is one of the most exhilarating. Allow just under two hours and bring a waterproof coat. Here, the weather remains truly unpredictable.
Brittany - The Crozon peninsula
Forming a gigantic cross in the Iroise Sea, the Crozon peninsula – a condensed version of Brittany – was a real favorite on my road trip. From the banks of the Aulne maritime to the Pointe de Pen-Hir, via the green creeks of the Rade de Brest, the peninsula offers a wild, authentic and, above all, unforgettable panorama. The landscape alternates between spectacular cliffs, heather moors, turquoise waters and gentle beaches. I would gladly have stayed for more than a weekend.
As it occupies a central position, this small, picturesque commune of 8,000 inhabitants gave its name to the Crozon peninsula. With its shops, beautiful church and countless markets, Crozon is not to be missed on a road trip in Brittany.
If you prefer the sea, head for Camaret-sur-Mer or Morgat, where the lively harbours are packed with restaurants, bars and cafés. These seaside resorts are ideal for a short stroll by the sea.
Ile Vierge Beach
Nestled in a sandstone cliff overhung by heather and umbrella pines lies an idyllic cove lined with white pebbles and lapped by turquoise water: the beach of Ile Vierge. This little gem, however, can only be admired from afar. Since 2020, the beach, a victim of its success as Europe’s most beautiful beach, has been closed to the public to protect it from the crowds.
Today, it can be seen from a small, steep path, where a fence and several yellow signs indicate that access to the beach is strictly forbidden, both by land and by sea.
Pen Hat Beach
Although you can’t swim here because of the bay, a short detour to Pen Hat is a must, if only to enjoy a picnic in front of the sunset on a clear-sky evening. Because nowhere else on my Brittany road trip have I contemplated such a sumptuous sunset as sitting on the steep cliffs that frame the wide beach.
Beaches of Goulien, Lostmarc'h and La Palue
The Crozon peninsula abounds in long, sandy beaches. Our favorites? The beaches of Goulien, Lostmarc’h and La Palue. With their sometimes wild, sometimes pristine scenery, these beaches – although particularly popular – are so vast that you never feel cramped. And as all three face the Atlantic Ocean, the sunsets here are also absolutely majestic.
Brittany - North Finistère
For a road trip in Brittany off the beaten track, head for northern Finistère and the Côte des Légendes, where 34 kilometers of coastline between Guissény and Plounéour-Trez promise farniente and discovery.
Ménez Ham Beach
Bordered by dunes and sometimes extravagantly shaped granite rocks, this pretty beach with its white sand is as fine as it gets in French Polynesia, and invites instant relaxation. Nestled close to a small fishing port and a reconstructed old fishing village, you can relax here during the day, before landing at the Bistrot des légendes Meneham in the evening, the ideal place to indulge in tasty local galettes or seafood.
Vilin Izella Beach and Beg an Fry Cliff
Not necessarily easy to get to, Vilin Izella beach is a real Breton gem. Its turquoise waters, bordered by lush forest and the Beg an Fry cliff, are a veritable Eden. Spend the day alternating between swimming, hiking along the GR 34 customs paths and strolling along the rocks at low tide. An end of the world that looks like a small lost paradise.
Brittany - From the Pink Granite Coast to Saint-Malo
From Bréhat Island to Trébeurden, the Pink Granite Coast unfurls its unusual curves in front of a string of islets, as it winds its way through sandy coves sheltered by pine trees. We skirt it gently, before setting course for Saint-Malo, the final destination of our Brittany road trip.
Pink Granite Coast
The GR 34 is the most popular hiking trail for exploring the Pink Granite Coast. Famous for its poetically shaped rocks, this little corner of paradise sculpts the coastline with its rich mineral formations. Keep your eyes peeled, because you’re not the only one enjoying the colorful spectacle of the Pink Granite Coast. Off the coast of Perros-Guirec, the Sept-Îles national nature reserve is home to one of the world’s largest colonies of seabirds, including puffins, gannets and cormorants.
A pretty little seaside resort not far from the famous village of Ploumanac’h, recognized as the most beautiful village in France, Trégastel invites you to relax on its fine sandy beaches and sometimes surprisingly shaped rocks. For a day of exploration, we head for the Presqu’île Renote, which can be circumnavigated along the famous GR 34. The circuit offers breathtaking views of the 7-island archipelago.
Renowned as the birthplace of legendary navigators and privateers such as Robert Surcouf and Jacques Cartier, Saint-Malo needs no introduction. But despite its unrivalled popularity, the corsair city is also brimming with intimate nooks and crannies. You’ll love the ramparts that surround the old town, the national fort, the countless crêperies that adorn the town and its rocky coastline.
Visit Brittany with points
The biggest international airport near Brittany is Nantes Atlantique (NTE). You’ll then be less than 2 hours by car from Lorient.
Air Transat operates the Montreal-Nantes service seasonally, from May to January. In summer, flights are frequent, with 5 connections per week. Round-trip flights in Eco Budget class are around $1,000 in July.
These miles are easy to collect in Canada, as Flying Blue is an exchange partner with the American Express Membership Rewards program. The transfer rate between the two programs is 1:0.75. So to pay for a 30,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip ticket from Montreal to Paris, you’d need 40,000 Membership Rewards points.
Once in Paris, Lorient can be reached by TGV in approximately 3 hours.
However, if you’re on a traditional road trip and need accommodation, or want a more luxurious night’s sleep than you’d get in your home on wheels, there are plenty of independent hotels to choose from.
Once again, flexible travel points will be your best ally in reducing this expense. You can use your credit card reward points to book a hotel stay via platforms such as Expedia, Agoda or Booking.com.
Once you’ve made your reservation, you can then redeem your reward points for a credit on your account. Several programs offer this flexibility, such as :
Brittany, considered by some to be the end of the world, is indeed reminiscent of a lost, untouched corner of paradise. Vast, long beaches, forests of umbrella pines and cliffs that plunge fearlessly into the ocean with its breaking swells combine to create a setting that is sometimes paradisiacal, sometimes melancholy. Although I was only there for a week, I can’t wait to go back and expand my itinerary and discover new favorites. From towns with surprising architecture to pretty beaches and small coves, the region’s jewels are innumerable.
Frequently asked questions about road trips in Brittany
What's the most beautiful place to visit in Brittany?
Brittany is full of beautiful places, so it’s hard to name just one. One of my favorites during my week in Brittany, however, was the Crozon peninsula. This remote corner of paradise, which some might call the end of the world, is ideal for swimming, surfing and walking.
What's the best way to visit Brittany?
The best way to visit Brittany depends on the time you have available and your preferences. If you want to face the ocean, contemplate the sea from sumptuous vantage points, discover finds at low tide and plunge into the heart of arid landscapes, we recommend setting course for Finistère. Our advice? Go at the end of August or in September to avoid the crowds and take advantage of mild weather in the heart of nature.
Where to go and what to see in Brittany in 1 week?
It’s hard to visit Brittany in a week. In fact, with so many beautiful places to visit in the region, it’s impossible to see it all in a single itinerary. Nevertheless, the city of Lorient, the Pointe du Raz, the Crozon peninsula, the GR 34 footpaths, the Pink Granite Coast and Cap Fréhel are all must-sees.
Where to sleep in a converted van during a road trip in Brittany?
It’s easier to sleep in a van in Brittany than in the south of France. However, as the region falls victim to its own popularity, more and more barriers are being installed in towns and parking lots, restricting access to vehicles over two meters high. What’s more, parking is often not free. On the Crozon peninsula in particular, as well as in the town of Lorient, it’s almost impossible to sleep in the parking lots. That’s why it’s important to reserve a camping spot for the night.
Which route should you choose for your road trip: North Brittany or South Brittany?
Although the landscapes of North Brittany and South Brittany differ, they are absolutely heavenly. In the north, you’ll find the Huelgoat forest and numerous small coves with turquoise waters, while in the south, you’ll find pretty little villages lined with half-timbered houses and historic monuments, vast beaches where you can test your sand yachts and numerous cliffs with exceptional views.
Do you like to hit the road when you travel? Read our many guides to van and road trip travel: