The five most photogenic towns in Brittany

The five most photogenic towns in Brittany

Brittany is one of the most beautiful and diverse regions of France. With wild, dramatic coastlines, distinctive medieval towns and thick, unspoilt forests to explore, the only problem you’ll have will be picking where to visit. To save you some time, we’ve selected some of the most picturesque towns in Brittany for you to explore on your next break. All can be reached from our Manoir du Hilguy property - just don’t forget to bring your camera!

Locronan – 25 mins drive via the D56

Less than half an hour down the road, Locronan has been recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in France. If you decide to visit, get ready for a real glimpse into the past; the winding streets are made up of the local distinctive Renaissance granite, topped with traditional slate roofs. Interspersed with lush greenery, these streets of well-preserved ancient buildings make Locronan a beautiful village in which to spend a few hours. It’s no wonder it has been used as a location for several films, including ‘Tess’ and ‘A Very Long Engagement’.

If you need a break from exploring the picturesque streets, you can find several boutiques, cafes and creperies to duck inside. If you visit during the festive season, there’s also a charming Christmas Market which is bound to put you in the holiday mood.

Last but not least, don’t miss the chance to pop into the Church of St Ronan, whom the town was named after. St Ronan was an Irish pilgrim saint and hermit and his relics are still safely entombed within the church itself.

Pont-Aven – 40 mins drive via the N165

Tucked away in the Northwest of Brittany, Pont-Aven is well known as a haven for artists. The Pont-Aven School of Painters, a colony of artists such as Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, made the town their home between the 1850s and the start of the 20th Century. People continue to be inspired today, with a contemporary art school and a number of galleries still existing within the town.

It’s not surprising that Pont-Aven was the inspiration for so many works; the town is a delightful collection of thatched cottages, watermills and has over 20 waterfalls roaring along the River Aven. To take in the true beauty of Pont-Aven, we’d recommend a gentle stroll along the riverside, where you can admire the area’s beautiful local plants and shrubs all year round. Another fantastic walk is the Promenade des Moulins, where you can find the town’s 15 remaining watermills, brimming with rustic charm.

If you’re visiting in August, don’t miss Pont-Aven’s famous Fête des Fleurs d’Ajoncs (gorse flower festival). During this day, the bright hues of the local blooms are combined with equally lively entertainment – enjoy some Breton music and dancing, regional food and beautiful traditional costumes.

Auray – 1 hr 20 mins drive via the N165

Auray is a pretty town made up of two separate parts – the main town and historical centre at the top of the hill and the harbour of Saint Goustan on the bank of the Auray River below. These two districts are remnants of a time when there was both a castle to protect the town and a port beneath it. The two developed separately and eventually merged to create the settlement we see today.

While many of the highlights lie in the Saint Goustan part of the town, it’s well worth spending some time in Auray itself. At the very least, the view down to the river is a beautiful photo opportunity. In addition, the Rue du Chateau, which leads down to the river, is very pretty and dotted with art galleries.

Saint Goustan can be reached across an attractive stone bridge that crosses the Auray River. On the other side is an open square, with a mixture of cafes and restaurants where you can sit and watch the boats bobbing on the river. From here, you can continue to wander along the main street, which is full of galleries, cafes and shops. This part of town is also home to many traditional timber buildings; a gentle reminder of when the town had a more industrial purpose.

Roscoff – 1 hr 30 mins drive via the N165

Roscoff is a delightful coastal town on the North Coast of Brittany. In 2009 it was named as one of the regions ‘small towns of character’, thanks to its charming harbour and beaches, 16th Century buildings and attractive architectural heritage. Spend a pleasant day wandering the picturesque streets, admiring the flower-trimmed port buildings and perhaps ducking into the wonderful local church. When you feel the need to refuel, there are enough bars and restaurants to keep you well fed and watered.

Once you’ve had enough of admiring Roscoff’s sea views, the small island of Île de Batz (pronounced ‘ba’) is just a 15-minute boat ride away. Free of cars, it offers an idyllic getaway from the mainland, with quiet beaches and a well-known botanical garden, the Jardin Exotique Georges Delaselle.

Mont Saint-Michel – 3 hr drive via the N176

Although it’s further afield, no trip to Brittany is complete without a visit to Mont Saint-Michel. One of the (if not the) most spectacular sights of the region, Mont Saint-Michel is a monastery perched on an island just 600 metres away off the mainland. The approach in itself is truly unforgettable – the town can be seen from miles away, looming out of the otherwise unbroken horizon. Visitors can reach the site itself on foot, shuttle bus, or even horse drawn carriage!

Once you arrive on Mont Saint-Michel, there’s no shortage of things to do. The Benedictine Abbey on the top of the mount has always been the main attraction. With powerful architecture, mainly dating back to medieval times, it’s a breathtaking sight. During the Summer, you can tour the abbey as night falls, with music and lighting adding to the atmosphere. Make sure you take a moment to stop and appreciate your surroundings, as there really is nowhere like it in the world.

After you’ve seen the abbey, it’s also worth taking some time to explore the surrounding town. The unusual main street winds steeply up towards the abbey and is full of restaurants, shops and museums. In addition, don’t forget about the bay of Mont Saint-Michel itself. Subject to some of the biggest tidal ranges and variations in the world, the waters and patterns change almost by the hour. For a truly unforgettable hike, you can join an organised walk across the bay. Just remember - due to the dangerous tides and sands, it’s strongly recommended that you go with a guide.

These are just five of the most picturesque places to visit in Brittany – the region’s diverse heritage and history means that there are many more places to discover, from spectacular walks to ancient historical sites, so don’t be afraid to do your own research and explore on your own. 

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