Much of central Brittany used to be heavily forested – today just patches remain. The existing forest of Paimpont near Rennes is all that remains of the original vast forest that covered ancient inland Brittany, as known as Argoat. Legend has it that the 25 square miles of woodland is also the location of mythical Brocéliande, the forest of King Arthur. And in the Huelgoat forest, you can descend to the ‘Devil's Cave’, clamber to the heights of the ‘Great Trembling Rock’, pass by the ‘Chaos Mill’ and numerous rushing streams.
Brittany’s three natural parks all have close connections with water. The Parc d’Armorique extends across the heart of Brittany, from the Monts d’Arrée, via the Aulne estuary and Crozon Peninsula, to the Molène archipelago. Here, the Parc Marin d’Iroise was the first marine park created off French shores. As for the Parc de Brière down towards the Loire: it’s the second largest marshland area in France.
For a true Breton experience:
Go on a daybreak on the summits of the Monts d'Arrée
Explore the many beautiful sites of the Molène archipelago
Twisting rivers break up Brittany’s agricultural landscapes inland. The Odet, locals claim, is the prettiest river in France. It certainly echoes the typical boulder-strewn Breton waterway, with enchanting wooded banks and the grounds of fine houses sloping elegantly down to the water’s edge. A couple of major canals were created for commerce in the 19th century; they’re now exploited for tourism. Lakes are also dotted around the region.
For a true Breton experience: Go on a walk with songs and stories through the Île aux Pies (Magpie Island) with guide Emmanuel
You’ll be struck by how very contorted the coastline is around Brittany; there’s virtually not a single straight line along the region’s edges. The mix of peninsulas sticking their heads out to sea and of deep gashes in the coast, both in the form of bays and wide estuaries (the latter sometimes known as abers or avens) helps make Brittany’s shores so exceptionally enticing.