Enjoy sea and surf on Brittany’s many beaches. Seek thrilling water sports or relax at spas then explore markets selling arts, crafts and jewellery.
It’s just a hop across the Channel with Brittany Ferries.
Sailing and surfing
Brittany’s focus on the sea means there are plenty of opportunities for watersports throughout the region – but with great waves, sailing and surfing are especially popular. Also sometimes known as fly-surfing, kite-surfing involves gliding on a small surfboard (a bit like a wakeboard) pulled by a kite. This sport was first devised in the 1960s but only became a reality in 1984 thanks to two brothers, Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux from Brittany, who were passionate fans of surfing. The arrival of freestyle and the radicalisation of surfing sports have led to the development of other disciplines, such as tow-in surfing (surfing giant waves towed by a motorboat). This technique is particularly popular in La Torche… but is for daredevils only!
For a true Breton experience, why not sail to one of the region’s islands on board a traditional boat? Listening to the wind in the rigging and the waves beating against the hull, you’ll love sailing in Brittany. Try a gourmet trip in the Bay of Cancale or set sail for Les Sept-Îles or Houat island.
Adrenaline-hunters could try an introduction to board sports with champion surfer Thomas .
Invigorating climate, salty breezes and a wonderful maritime landscape: these three assets have made Brittany a favourite destination for fans of health and beauty spas that specialise in thalassotherapy (seawater and other sea products). Indulge yourself at any of the 13 thalassotherapy centres – all part of the Thalasso Bretagne Group – that are dotted along the coast from Saint-Malo to La Baule. Each spa features its own special setting and treatments, including wonderful massages to promote total relaxation.
Brittany’s seawater spas offer all the pampering beauty treatments of a normal spa but use seawater and marine extracts to work their magic. Where a thalassotherapy break offers beauty treatments AND cures aches and pains, a sea spa concentrates solely on beauty treatments to make your body – and face, hair, skin, and nails – beautiful beside the seaside!
Art and crafts
Breton crafts and decorative arts are often colourful, from the potteries of Quimper to the embroideries on men’s formal waistcoats. Show was important: the region produced a vast array of coiffes (women’s lace bonnets) and at Pont-l’Abbé, you can still see the odd embroiderer at work. Perhaps the most widespread manifestation of Breton fashion is the stripy sailor’s jumper, trendy across the world and sometimes still made here. Breton furniture is more sober and heavy, but brought to life by geometric patterns.
Quimper is the place for pottery: the HB Henriot factory offers amazing guided tours of its workshops, where everything is handmade. Established in 1690 and famous for its personalised lug bowls invented in the 1930s, the factory has been open to the public for around 100 years and is one of the most visited tourist sites in Brittany, with nearly 40,000 annual visitors! Here you can discover all the secrets of the potters’ trade, from design to freehand decoration of the finished product. Watch the creative process at work and choose your favourite items to take home.
For a true Breton experience, why not try a traditional sailing boat and a sketchbook of your trip to Bréhat
Puppets, jewellery, wood and glass
The Morbihan village of La Gacilly is synonymous with the late Yves Rocher, who created and ran his cosmetics empire here – but it’s also renowned for its arts and crafts. The narrow streets are jam-packed with artists and craftspeople of all types, from puppet-makers to jewellery designers and wood-turners to glass-blowers. The craftspeople hold ‘open houses’ at their workshop-boutiques where you can admire all these tactile delights.