With its deeply rooted Celtic and prehistoric cultural influences, Brittany is one of France’s most fascinating regions. If it lacks the obvious glamour of destinations such as Paris or the French Riviera, it offers natural riches and opportunities for cultural adventure that more intrepid luxury travelers will relish in. Read on for some of the most exceptional, authentic and luxurious things to do in Brittany, all in coveted and not-to-miss destinations around the region.
Brittany, with its distinctive Celtic culture, is a remarkable French region where luxury and adventure can easily meet. Let us show you how..
What many first-time visitors to la Bretagne don’t know is that it counts some fantastic islands well worth visiting, including some with microclimates that are quasi-tropical. Any high-end trip to the region should include some time exploring, and potentially staying, on one or more of these remarkable islands.
The island of Brehat is one of the most beautiful, and wild, places in Brittany. Located off the coast of Paimpoil, it’s just a short boat or ferry ride to an island whose unique microclimate has endowed it with azure waters that are much warmer than elsewhere in the area, as well as incredibly biodiversity– a stunning array of colourful flowers and plants and wild birds inhabit the island. It’s also a blissfully quiet place, since cars are banned here. For moments of peace and true commune with nature, try exploring this idyllic corner of France.
If it’s craggy, wave-beaten coastline studded with iconic lighthouse that you’re after, the sublime island of Ouessant is calling your name. Charter a private boat from Brest or a ferry from Le Conquet and roam out to the wild island, which is situated at the edge of the Atlantic ocean, giving it its sea-battered ambience. Home to hundreds of species of wild plants and animals, this is an ideal place to head out on a walking or bike tour. Old windmills, fascinating rock formations, and the western town of Lampaul with its hundreds year-old lighthouses and churches are among the sights awaiting those intrepid enough to visit one of the farthest edges of western France.
Finally, Belle Ile is Brittany’s largest and most-visited island-– but this doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile stop on your personal luxury itinerary. Celebrated for its gorgeous landscapes– from stark, dramatic cliffs plunging to the sea to charming, bucolic hamlets– the island was appreciated and painted by artists including Claude Monet and Henri Matisse. In the main town and port of Le Palais, take in the dramatic old citadel of Vauban from the sea, and enjoy an excellent variety of restaurants serving regional Breton specialities, from seafood to ciders and galettes (savoury buckwheat crepes, both healthy and delicious).
One lovely and luxurious place to stay on Belle Ile is the 4-star Hotel Castel Clara, offering stunning views of the sea and a thalassic (seawater) spa. The onsite gastronomic restaurant will also allow you to sample regional Breton cuisine in a breathtaking setting, opening your palate as you take in the spectacular maritime views.
To guarantee that your island exploration is a success, it’s highly recommended that you hire a private local guide to show you the most beautiful corners of the region of Brittany. Rather than going it alone, leave it to the experts to chart a perfect, and entirely personalised, luxury getaway to the islands.
For oyster and fresh shellfish lovers, Brittany is an essential destination. Saint Malo, Dinard and Cancale are particularly renowned for their ultra-fresh, delicious oysters, and all three cities boast a number of Michelin-starred gastronomic restaurants that source their shellfish from outstanding farms nearby.
In Cancale, a famous fishing port and resort situated on the mythical Baie du Mont St-Michel and right on the edge of Normandy, oysters are serious business. You can observe the enormous oyster beds located at the northern end of the town, and even buy them fresh from one of eight producers with stalls situated right on the jetty. Enjoy them with a glass of white wine as you take in the mythical views of the bay, no matter the time of day or night.
If you want to learn in-depth about the art of oyster fishing and farming, a trip to the fascinating Ferme Marine, a working oyster farm, will show you firsthand the remarkable traditions and practices that have been observed in this region for generations. Enjoy a guided tour of the workshop and onsite tastings to awaken your palate.
Also in Cancale, La Table de Breizh Cafe is a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant with an extraordinary seasonal menu melding the traditions of Normandy and Japan. Chef Fumio Kudaka creates gourmet dishes such as the Cancalaise Oyster Plate, featuring fresh Cancale oysters, apple purée with Tosazu vinegar, pink onion flan and langoustine bisque. A remarkable gastronomic destination that foodies with an adventurous spirit will not want to miss. Meanwhile, Le Coquillage is another prestigious Michelin-starred restaurant in close reach of the port city, helmed by chefs Hugo and Olivier Roellinger and situated in a breathtaking Belle Epoque mansion. The restaurant’s menu features innovative and classic dishes centred around oysters and shellfish, and their wine list is exceptional. A stay at the onsite luxury hotel, Les Maison de Bricourt, offers sweeping sea views and genuine elegance, and might represent an ideal place to perch during your stay in the region.
The nearby cities of Saint Malo, with its breathtaking fortifications, and Dinard, with its elegant Belle-Epoque villas, seafront and charming port, are well worth exploring and also offer numerous gastronomic delights. In Saint Malo, be sure to reserve some time for an indulgent session of thalassotherapy (seawater spa treatments) at the Thermes Marins de Saint Malo, one of the region’s best spas. Packages are available for one or several days, offering a true opportunity for relaxation and luxury.
Near Dinard, the art-deco stye Castelbrac Hotel offers true maritime opulence: a narrow, heated stone pool with sweeping sea views, spa, solarium and even access to yachts.
Whatever your interests and travel priorities, a private and bespoke itinerary around this charming part of Brittany will guarantee you experience the best it has to offer, from gourmet experiences to culture and nature-focused excursions.
We’ve already encouraged you to explore some of Brittany’s most breathtaking islands, but any truly exceptional itinerary in the maritime region will also include time on the open seas. Fishing, sailing, whale and dolphin watching are among the many activities you should take advantage of– and opting to charter a private cruise with your own dedicated captain is the best way to enjoy the water in peace and luxury. Sailboats, yachts, catamarans and other vessels can be privately chartered for an adventure that’s both authentic and unforgettable.
Why not embark on a half-day adventure aboard a traditional Breton fishing vessel or sailboat, captained by a local seaman and allowing you to enjoy the brisk open seas in both style and authenticity? You might spend time onboard fishing, spotting whales and dolphins jumping on the waves, and enjoying a sunset aperitif of white wine and oysters, cider or other regional fare. Of course, if you’re equipped with a diving license, it’s also entirely possible to arrange private dives off of some of the most beautiful coastal areas in Brittany.
Whether you’re interested in a private cruise in Lorient, Quiberon, Brest, Finistère, the Gulf of Morbihan or around St-Malo, we’ll help you charter a boat with the very best companies in Brittany, guaranteeing that your experience at sea will be superb from beginning to end.
One of the most magical places in the region, the Morbihan Gulf often gets overlooked by visitors who limit their visit of Brittany to the areas nearest to Paris. Yet by heading further southwest and over to the Atlantic coast, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most outstanding natural beauty that the region has to offer, and a distinctive local culture.
Lauded as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, the Gulf of Morbihan is a quasi-lagoon: an area of calm and protected waters that feeds into the much more lively, often stormy Atlantic. Exploring the deep green waters of the gulf aboard a boat or yacht is a definite must: it is home to an astounding number of small and larger islands, including the Ile aux Moines and the Ile d’Arz, its two largest. These both offer walking paths that are very pleasant to explore.
Also make sure to take a guided tour (from Larmor-Baden) over to the island of Gavrinis, probably Brittany’s most astounding and beautiful Neolithic site. It harbours an ancient burial chamber dating to 3,500 BC and decorated with prehistoric carvings; to access the chamber you first have to walk through a long, low passage. During the Winter Solstice, sun hits the back area of the passage in a precise and breathtaking way.
The rectangular burial chamber is built with a single, enormous stone slab decorated with images of bulls and other prehistoric motifs that were left incomplete. Astoundingly, it was constructed from the same stone that can be found at the Table de Marchand in Locmariaquer, another remarkable megalithic site located on the west edge of the Gulf of Morbihan (and also well worth visiting). There, beeline to see the Grand Menhir Brisé, a megalith now disassembled into four parts that originally stood 20 metres high, the tallest Neolithic standing stone ever discovered. Also make sure to see the world-famous Carnac stones in the legendary town that bears their name.
Where to Stay in the Morbihan?
The pretty, walled city of Vannes is the obvious choice for a luxury stay in the area. We especially recommend the Villa Kerasy Hotel Spa, an Indian-themed hotel boasting rooms with opulent colonial-era furniture and statues and a spa with aruyvedic-inspired treatments.
Last but certainly far from least, anyone who wants to encounter the natural wonders of Brittany should reserve some time for the Cote d’Armor, one of the region’ most breathtaking areas. We recommend exploring this Northern area, famous for its stupendous Pink Granite coastline, by foot or bike to take advantage of the invigorating and health-restoring sea air, but scenic drives are also entirely possible.
The lovely town of Perros-Guirec is a traditional resort town with a pleasant beachfront and numerous restaurants; it serves as an excellent hub for exploring the area. Take a scenic, wild maritime hike from Perros-Guirec to the fishing village of Ploumanac’h, and possible continue all the way to the dramatic Pointe de Squewel. For nature lovers, the rewards are immediate: the entire walk takes you along the Pink Granite coast, with its bright rose-colored stone glinting in the sun and reflecting on the sea. This is an area of unusual biodiversity, too: the area harbours countless species of birds, seals and other fauna. If time allows, take a boat out to the Sept Iles islands: here, wild birds are abundant, and sightings of puffins, terns, cormorants and other beautiful species are more than likely. Morlaix Bay is another site that is teeming with wildlife, and also worth a couple of hours.
In the Perros-Guirec-Ploumanac’h area , we recommend a stay at the four-star Castel Beau Site, an opulent seafront hotel and restaurant which will allow you to relax and recuperate after a long day of hiking, cycling and birdwatching along the Pink Granite coast.
See Iconic Brittany in Paimpol
The vibrant port town of Paimpol is another destination on the Cote d’Armor that can offer visitors an ideal balance of authentic local culture and luxury. A historic fisherman’s hub, there remains a lively fish market in the town, and the port, seafront and beaches create a maritime atmosphere that feels iconically Breton. 17th-century stone houses grace the seafront and old town, and excellent opportunities for tasting fresh seafood and shellfish abound in the numerous excellent restaurants situated around the harbour. To stay in Paimpol, lodgings such as the 19th-century Hotel K’Loys offer understated luxury and local authenticity. With its rustic but well-appointed rooms and onsite bistrot serving delicious local fare, this is an unpretentious, charming choice.
As mentioned earlier, from Paimpol you can take a ferry or private vessel to the breathtaking Ile de Brehat, making the town an excellent hub for exploring nearby islands.
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