Things to do in Brittany

Brittany is blessed with a wealth of attractions for all ages. Our holiday houses are located in Finistere.

In the centre of the peninsula is Quimper (the location of Kistinic).

Quimper is the capital of Cornuaille and an extremely beautiful small city which is lively and interesting year round. The pedestrianized centre is small and compact and once you have parked in one of the towns main car parks, it is very easy to negotiate on foot.  The medieval streets which date back to the 15th century are lined with colourful old houses and smart shops, cafes and restaurants. The river Odet and Steir which traverse the town, meet at the centre where you can find the covered market and stock up on lots of lovely local produce. The Musee Breton and Musee de Beaux Arts are both impressive museums for a town of this size and the Cathedral too is a wonderful place to visit. The parks and gardens in Quimper are particularly impressive (psst. the head of parks and gardens used to be in charge of the parks and gardens for the Cote d’Azur), one worth the detour to the far end of town is the medieval garden on the riverside at Locmaria, also home to the faiencerie Henriot for which the town is famous.

Benodet and Sainte Marine located to the south of Quimper are two very pretty seaside resorts. Benodet has a lovely sandy beach, a wooden walkway with cafes and bars, but the highlight is the walk up the Corniche at the mouth of the river Odet. The views across to Sainte Marine are sublimely pretty. Across the bridge which is impressive in itself is Sainte Marine. The old port is very picturesque and is the perfect spot for a bite of lunch or an early evening drink while looking over the river.

Our guests also enjoy visiting Ile Tudy, this small port at the end of a long spit is very pretty, has lovely views across the river to Loctudy and a nice and gently shelving sandy beach.

Brittany’s rich history is steeped in legends and ancient relics. Standing stones dot the countryside, fairytale castles abound. Walk the ramparts of the Ville Close at Concarneau. The Ancient Abbey at Landevennec has a museum and is still inhabited by monks, and the gardens of the Abbaye de Daoulas are both open to visitors. The Chateau de Trevarez has different exhibitions throughout the year.

A boat trip up the River Odet is a very nice thing to do. It is justifiably claimed to be one of France’s most beautiful. There are various chateaux on route, which can only be seen from the river. The boats depart from Benodet.

There are also trips out to the Glenan Islands. This is only really recommended on sunny days when you can feel like you have been transported to Tahiti. The islands are very pretty in the sunshine as they are white sandy sand banks with turquoise water. When you get there you can hire a kayak, or picnic on the beach.

The Cap Sizun (the location of Ty Traez and Ty Bili) has recently been designated one of the ‘Grands Sites de France’. The area has two very well known natural landmarks that of the Pointe du Raz and the Pointe du Van, but the entire coastline reamins wild and natural and very beautiful. There are various hidden treasures such as the Moulin de Keriolet at the Pointe du Millier and the small medieval town of Pont Croix which whilst beautifully preserved has missed the attention from most guide books who do not venture that bit deeper.

The Ile de Sein, across the water from the Pointe du Raz, is accessible by regular boat from the beach at Ste Evette. The journey is about 1 hour and gives a good view of the coast and dolphins can often be spotted en route.  Check times for the boats at the tourist office or the slip at St Evette.

The Port Musee in Douarnenez is a good maritime museum with live exhibits. Kids can clamber over fishing vessels and tug boats, and play at being a Breton fisherman for the day.  After eating a delicious crepe, take a walk along the sentier de Plomarc’h, situated just above Port de Rosmeur (with the sea behind you walk to the left and hug the coast as much as you can).  There is a lovely ‘town farm’ with pigs, donkeys, sometimes lambs, horses and chickens.  The coastal path then takes you to some interesting ruins and small creeks.

The well preserved medieval town of Locronan dates back to the 10th century and has been the setting for many a film. Recently voted as one of France’s most beautiful villages. The once capital of sailcloth in Brittany is now fully pedestrianized and has various gift shops and creperies and an interesting glass blowing shop.

The Aquashow in Audierne is a small and friendly aquarium which features a lot of the local sealife as well as a bird show and very hand for our houses Ty Traez and Ty Bili.

Oceanopolis at Brest is one of the regions best loved attractions and a good excursion for a rainy day. If you like aquariums this one is impressive and a favourite of our guests.

Inland Huelgoat – La Roche tremblant and Le Champignon. If you park in the town centre of Huelgoat beside the lake and the tourist office, just to the right of the small bridge with a  weir there is a footpath into the amazing forest of Huelgoat with its outsized boulders and tortuous river.  Maps of circular walks can be obtained from the tourist office or are well signposted.  Look out for the café / librairie located in the woods at Berrien for a light lunch or snack. Tel. 0298 99 72 58 You can also visit the art gallery Ecole des filles which has exhibtions throughout the year.

The Parc Natural Regional du Armorique is Brittany’s regional national park and runs from the Ile d’Ouessant and Molene across the Crozon Peninsula to the Monts d’Arree.

  • The Domaine de Menez Meur in Hanvec is a wildlife park dedicated  mainly to wolves, but has other things to see such as black sheep from Ouessant and wild boar. There are various trails to choose from but there is a ‘parcour animalier’ or wildlife tour (3km) which is walkable even for little children, and an outdoor adventure playground.
  • There are a host of small museums dedicated to the rich local heritage of this area. Some of the best are
  • The Maison des Vieux Metiers Vivants which is a living museum where you will see in action some of the age old crafts of the region.
  • The Maison des Mineraux, at St Hernot only a few minutes drive from our house at Lostmarc’h.
  • The Musee de l’Ecole Rurale in Tregarven brings alive what it would have been like at school over a century ago. In the area – Les Viviers de Terenez on the Road from Pont de Terenez to Le Faou, sells oysters, shellfish and trout – you can also eat ‘sur place’.
  • The Ferme Apicole de Terenez,  sells everything to do with bees – honey, pain d’epices,  wax candles.

Phares de Penmarch – There are three of them at Penmarch, the most famous being that of Eckmuhl. Climb the 307 granite steps and admire the view. On the route stop in at Le Guilvinec to watch the return of the fishing boats at about 4.30pm. There is a large terrace where you can watch them off-load the catch of the day ready to be sold at Le Criee. There is a musuem La Haliotika which is dedicated to all that is ‘La Peche’.

Theme parks – our friend google should help you find out information on the following.

  • Parc d’attractions Odet Loisirs. Set in a lovely location of rolling park land about 15 minutes to the east of Quimper. This quirky theme park is lots of fun and refreshingly old school.
  • La Labyrinthe de Pont Aven et sa mini ferme.
  • Peninsula de la Labyrinthe, Crozon. Breizh Park – Crozon – treetop climbing, paint-ball, mini golf and horse and carriage rides.
  • Parc de Loisirs Bel Air – Landudec – bouncy castles, waterslides, pedal boats and trampolines.
  • La Recre des 3 Cures – Milizac just north of Brest. This is a great day out if you are looking for some high adrenaline theme park rides.

The endless coastline and variety of beaches is made for exploring whatever the weather. Clambering over rocks, paddling in the waves, make your own french chateau in the sand, search the rock pools for tiddlers and crabs. Older children can take advantage of the endless coastal sports on offer, dinghy sailing, sand yachting, surfing, kayak and stand up paddle to name but a few. Outdoor activities in the region are very well organised and lots of fun.

If you are active (or would like to be!) then you are spoilt for choice. Sports and activities are easy in Finistere, as there is lots of space, few people, and miles and miles of varied coastline, and beautiful beaches.

Cycling in Brittany

Firstly, cycling.  The area is fantastic for both road biking and moutain biking, with plenty of pretty and quiet roads, and well marked trails. For families there are various green cycle routes which are reasonably flat and mainly off the road. Between Quimper and Douarnenez, and also Quimper and Pont L’Abbe there are two beautiful green and leafy routes which follow disused railway lines for 20km. Between Primelin / Plogoff there is a new cycle route to the Pointe du Raz, which uses paths, and very small roads and runs near the coast through small hamlets. Another nice path runs from Audierne to Pont Croix and follows the River Goyen. The Nantes – Brest Canal also provides a 200km flat cycle way. This can be picked up a short drive from our houses at Chateaulin, or at Pont Coblant. The Quimper Triathlon route runs very close to Kistinic, and Andrew is more than happy to act as a cycle guide.

Kayaking in Brittany

Kayaking is also great fun, and there are lots of opportunities to try this out in Finistere. If you prefer to go on a guided tour, it is possible to hire Kayaks in Morgat, or in Quimper for a memorable trip down the Odet, or also along the Goyen in Audierne.

Surfing in Brittany

Surfing – if you have never tried before, don’t worry! You can easily find a wave to match your ability, and there are lots of surf schools. The surf is excellent and consistent, with a huge choice of beaches. La Torche is rennowned for its surfing competitions. Lostmarc’h and La Palue are some of the best surf beaches in Brittany.

Stand Up Paddle

The latest craze has taken off big time in Brittany. It is possible to take a short course or hire a board at various locations. Morgat, Beg Meil, Mousterlin and La Torche. http://www.getup-standup.fr http://www.oceanpirogue.com

Walking in Brittany

The famous coastal footpath the GR34 runs the full length of the Finistere coastline. The cliff paths are well marked and have rich and varied scenery and stunning views and are easily accessible. Choose from short strolls out to watch the sun set over the sea, or full day hikes! The path runs past our house at Lostmarc’h, and also Ty Traez and Ty Bili, if you love walking on the cliffs these houses are for you. We have written a little more about walking in Brittany here.

Horse riding in Brittany

For horse riding, there are several different stables in the area, which may be a short drive away.

Tennis / Table Tennis

For tennis players, there are courts right next to Ty Traez/Bili. Ty Traez has it’s own full size table tennis table. At Creac’h Gwen in Quimper there are indoor and outdoor tennis courts that are competition standard.

Fishing in Brittany

Fishing trips can be arranged from Audierne, Douarnanez or Le Guilvinec.

The water is often very clear in the summer, and diving is popular. Lobster and spider crabs are common catches.

Swimming

There are several excellent indoor pools in the area – 2 in Quimper, a new one in Esquibien close to Primelin, and 1 in Morgat.

Tree climbing

There is a tree clmbing adventure park in Quimper, a bowling alley and several cinemas.

Kitesurfing  sailing and wind sports in Brittany

Finistere is considered one of the most important regions for sailing in France, the many ports have great facilities for yachts, but are also home to various sailing schools offering classes for all levels from tiny tots in lasers and catamarans up to Olympic standard courses.  The fact that the coastline rapidly changes direction and the huge selection of beaches has made Finistere the natural home of kitesurfing – there is almost always a breeze, and there is plenty of space. Lessons are available.

Sand yachting is another popular sport here – there is a school on Pentrez beach