What better place to enjoy the great outdoors than in France’s beautiful Brittany? Just a short hop across the Channel, you’re spoilt for choice of summertime attractions in this coastal region, including vibrant medieval festivals, chic glamping and hiking – all unfolding the minute you arrive in port.
Summer is the perfect time to stay in Brittany. The region’s gentle countryside is charming, filled with picturesque villages and small market towns, parks and gardens, elegant châteaux and some very special and unusual places to stay. Why not spend the night in a lighthouse? Just off Port-Louis, the Kerbel lighthouse stands at the heady height of 25 metres with 120 steps to reach your bedroom – well worth it for the panoramic views. If you’re keen on the idea of an eco holiday, recharge your batteries in a top-of-the-range tent or cabin at the heart of nature, with organic meals and groceries supplied – Camping Le Ty Nadan and the Cabanes des Legendes are two of our favourites.
More information about 7 ideas for something different in Brittany
To make the most of the scenery in the waking hours, try a waterborne activity on one of Brittany’s lakes or along its stunning coastline. Wakeboarding at West Wake Park or BZH Wakepark is an adventurous challenge for all ages: a mix of waterskiing, snowboarding and surfing. Or step aboard one of Brittany’s traditional sailing boats to play pirates for the day. Cruise the Gulf of Morbihan on a ‘sinagot’ (a traditional sailing boat from Séné), cross the Baie des Corsaires aboard the ‘Etoile du Roy’, watch seals, puffins and gannets from the Sept îles on a former lobster boat.
More information about family friendly activities in Brittany to try this summer
Another way to enjoy the coastline is by hiking the GR34 long-distance footpath or Customs Officer’s path (‘Sentier des Douaniers’), an extraordinary route that was recently voted France’s favourite long-distance footpath. Feast your eyes on the sheer cliffs and turquoise water around the Crozon Peninsula; venture out to Callot Island at low tide; or admire the Pink Granite Coast with its elegant silhouettes and coppery glow. If you have the kids in tow, Brittany boasts numerous family-friendly resorts and blue-flag beaches for safe swimming.
For more outdoor pleasures this summer, consider getting to know a section of the Nantes-Brest canal, snaking through the Breton countryside and delightful petites cités de caractère (small character towns) such as Malestroit and Rohan. Active visitors will get through the winding, 236-lock circuit in a week – but you may prefer a more leisurely pace with pauses at the many hotels, stopover gîtes and B&Bs scattered along the way.
Take your pick from major festivals across Brittany this summer: La Gacilly Photo Festival (1 June-30 September), Festival de Cornouailles in Quimper (23-28 July) and Festival Interceltique in Lorient (2-11 August) are three of the most renowned.
Also look out for ‘Art in the Chapels’ from July to September, as well as two festivals celebrating the sea: Festival Lyrique en Mer (30 July-16 August) and Festival du Chant Marin (2-4 August).
Weary from the celebrations? Traditional Breton cooking is simple and wholesome, with the humble pancake and several delicious pastries as specialities. Salted butter is everywhere and the caramels made with it are irrestistible; don’t forget to take some home! Seafood lovers are in their element in Brittany – in fact, its 2,800km of coastline accounts for almost 80% of France’s total seafood production, which you can buy straight from the fishing boats in some small harbours. As for the local cider… consider staying a night at the Cider House B&B in Jugon-les-Lacs, or visit the Cidrerie de la Baie in Planguenoual, where you can learn the step-by-step cider-making process and enjoy a tasting. And if you fancy a stroll as you taste produce, alongside doing some shopping and enjoying an aperitif or two, Brittany’s open-air markets are wonderful.
More information about Breton food & drink specialties
The best way of exploring? In the comfort of your own car, packed with everything you need. Brittany is easily accessible via Brittany Ferries’ ports of Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. What’s more, their superb choice of summer breaks, make getting there great value too!
Book now with Brittany Ferries and save up to 25% on sail & stay cottage holidays