Dreaming of a road trip by the sea? With its stunning 1,700-mile coastline of turquoise bays, dramatic swells, secluded coves and pastel-shuttered fishing villages, Brittany feels a world away – and yet is just a few hours’ crossing from the UK with Brittany Ferries, arriving at St-Malo or Roscoff. It’s a place to dose up on adrenaline, and also a place to slow down and savour real life. Simply pack up the car (bikes and camping gear optional) and set sail for an adventure.
An arrival into Roscoff gives you immediate access to the wilds of Finistère , with facilities aplenty for kayaking, surfing and windsurfing. It’s also where you’ll find La Pointe du Raz , France’s most westerly point. You may not know that Brittany’s coastline has the greatest concentration of lighthouses in the world, with Finistère chalking up the highest score! Following a lighthouse trail is a great way to string together the coastal landmarks, and some of them provide great visual rewards for a hefty climb, such as the Ile Vierge lighthouse in Plouguerneau with its 365 steps. The Stiff lighthouse on the Isle of Ushant, designed by military architect Vauban, has been in service since 1700 and is the oldest working lighthouse in Brittany. When it comes to watching sunsets, the top of the 56-metre Eckmühl lighthouse makes a breathtaking vantage point.
Driving is an easy way to get around, but if you want to get out in that fresh sea air, spend some time enjoying Brittany by bike . The region offers over 1,200 miles of cycle paths, many of which are voies vertes, created from abandoned railway tracks and therefore car-free. Some of the prettiest routes follow the coast, including one green route starting from Maison des Polders in Roz-sur-Couësnon and heading towards the Normandy border. Another must is the coastal route 5: Quiberon Bay – the views of turquoise waters and sandy beaches along this seaside trail are spectacular. If you cycle the entire 20km you may want to hitch a ride on the ‘Tire-Bouchon’ train on your return, running between Auray and Quiberon daily from the end of June to the end of August.
Of course, you don’t have to limit your cycling to the mainland; Brittany’s amazing islands are also heaven for cyclists. Two of the islands off Finistère, Ouessant and Batz, have cycle paths and are great fun to explore by bike. Île de Groix, off Lorient, is another favourite with miles of trails to discover – make sure you follow a path leading out to one of the beautiful sandy beaches that hug the island’s eastern shore. Another island worth visiting is Ile aux Moines. It’s the largest of the 42 islands in the Gulf of Morbihan and was once home to the monks of Redon Abbey, hence its name, ‘Monks’ Island’. If you haven’t brought your own, you can hire bikes at the jetty and explore the Bois d’Amour woods and mysterious megaliths before arriving at a wide-open stretch of sand.
Time to get back out on the water now: whether you’re a fan of short boards, long boards, windsurfing or kitesurfing, there’s something for every ability from north to south. In St-Malo, instructor Hélène runs the Hina Surf school and is a French former champion, successfully raising the profile of women in this male-led sport. Dossen beach in Santec, Finistère, is a favourite for windsurfers. The Pointe de la Torche headland in Audierne Bay is used for the trendy eco-friendly ‘surf camps’ , one of which is women-only and includes yoga. Brittany also has plenty of surfer-friendly accommodation right next to the beach, such as La Torche campsite with a rinsing area for surf gear, and La Plage de Goulien campsite on the Crozon peninsula, offering tuition and board hire in partnership with the nearby surf school. Whether you’re on your own or with friends, you can also opt for a surf lodge or surf hostel.
When it’s time to rest and refuel, Brittany’s coastal villages offer the perfect gentle antidote to all that salty swell – in the form of traditional sweet treats like Kouign-amann and crêpes, getting lost along cobbled streets, or simply sitting with your feet in the water and soaking up the views. Some villages have inspired chefs and artists, such as oyster hub Riec-sur-Bélon, while others in the north, such as Perros-Guirec, cling to pink granite cliffs that will take your breath away.
From travel to the port to exploring when you get there, taking your own car to Brittany offers the freedom and reassurance you need. Sailing with Brittany Ferries is a hassle-free experience, with various ticket types allowing you to choose the level of flexibility you need. The company is constantly reviewing and updating its health-related procedures to ensure that everyone travels safely. Fresh sea air is supplied in all public spaces – including cabins – and there’s plenty of space to roam around, wherever you are on board. We can’t wait to welcome you back to France again.