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Five of the loveliest towns in Brittany

Carmen McCormack Profile Image

Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

5 min read

Brittany is a land infused with ancient Celtic culture, a place where music, myth and legend are brought to life at each village and town’s annual fest noz - a lively night of music and dancing hosted on the main square. The Breton people are fiercely independent folk who celebrate and champion their culture by keeping local traditions and the Breton language alive. The coast, one of the biggest draws, is packed with pretty harbour towns, white sandy bays and crystal-clear seas. Inland is charming too, with a host of medieval towns and villages, home to dramatic churches, ancient buildings, excellent crêperies and usually a thriving weekly market with local producers selling their excellent wares. Here are a few of our favourites to get stuck into on your holiday to Brittany.

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Bénodet

Tucked on the southern tip of Finistère where the Odet and Pont-l’Abbé rivers embrace the Atlantic, this charming seaside town is an absolute gem. With two lighthouses, four fine sandy beaches, one clear-water lagoon, a coastal river and the calm sea you’ll be happy as a clam here. Meander along the promenade with your artisan ice cream or take a five-minute crossing over the Odet (every half hour in peak season) to the rocky coves and pine groves of Sainte-Marine. Stop for a drink on the waterside terrace, stroll to the lighthouse and Pointe de Combrit for glorious ocean views before nipping back and choosing a waterfront seafood restaurant for a fine meal. 

Locronan 

Locronan is officially a Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’ – an award that promotes small rural villages with a rich cultural heritage), and this one is particularly special. Wander the delightful car-free cobbled streets, gazing at elegant granite houses and, taking centre stage on the ancient square, the atmospheric Saint-Ronan church and Pénity chapel – crazy gargoyles included. A sought-after film location, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time here, and the shops could be part of a set: step into a bakery for a delicious coffee eclair or an ever-so-pretty custard and fruit flan. If you fancy stretching your legs a bit more, climb the Montagne du Prieuré for superb views over glittering Douarnenez bay. 

Dinan

A stunning little medieval town resting beside the banks of the River Rance with 3 kms of handsome ramparts, a 14th-century castle and lovely views over the marina. Stroll over the viaduct and along the cobbled streets lined with half timbered houses and browse independent shops. The town is renowned for its artisan makers: carpenters, glass blowers, potters, painters and sculptors. Near the historic centre, check out the interesting blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture at the basilica of Saint-Sauveur, it’s covered in imaginary beasts, wild and exotic animals, and has an atmospheric cemetery to wander around. Find a shady seat in the Place St Sauveur for a coffee or crêpe.

Camaret-sur-mer

On the western tip of the spellbinding Crozon peninsula, Camaret is a quintessential harbour town. Expect quayside bustle, bobbing boats, fantastic seafood restaurants and a string of brightly painted houses dotting the shorefront that’s lit up magically at night. Stroll through the maze of narrow back street alleyways and discover independent boutiques, art galleries and crafty shops, or follow the jetty around to the Vauban tower, known as the Golden Tower for its warm honey colour. Listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site, it marks the entrance to the Bay of Brest. There are blowy coastal walks around rugged cliffs, wide headlands and gentle sandy beaches, clearly signed towards Morgat. Keen hikers might like to make a few days of it and follow the path to Cap de la Chèvre. 

Quimper 

Quimper is a delight. A bloom-filled town on the Odet River with a stunning Gothic cathedral at its heart. It took three centuries to build Saint-Corentin cathedral with its two towering spires and superb stained-glass windows. The square has an old-fashioned carousel gently whirring around and any number of traditional crêperies serving Breton savoury buckwheat galettes and sweet treats too. Down atmospheric cobbled streets you can browse toy shops, fashion boutiques and traditional pottery stores. Quimper is the birthplace of Breton earthenware, typically adorned by figures in traditional costume and circled by flowers, you can pick up all sorts of pretty household crockery. This is one of the largest Breton towns and you’ll find a Fine Art museum here and the Musée Breton where you can learn all about the region’s heritage. 

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

Carmen is a freelance writer specialising in travel. She once lived in a bus in north Wales, skipped off to study in Barcelona, and now calls Bristol home. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found reading (a lot), lake swimming (a little), and pottering on the allotment with husband and two kiddos. She’s currently dreaming about cold cerveza and torta in Mexico.

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