Top 5 Family Activities in Brittany

Be Briezh! Brittany has a fierce national pride. It’s a quality that shines through in many of the family attractions this most northeasterly tip of France has to offer. Brittany with Kids author Jane Anderson selects her top five Breizh family activities.

(Find out more about family travel in France.)

Explore the Pink Granite Coast

One of the best things about Brittany is its stunning coastline which of course comes free of charge. The northerly Côte de Granit Rose is like stumbling upon a giant’s seaside playground. Walk along the Sentier des Douaniers coastal path between Perros-Guirec and the port of Ploumanac’h dotted with sandy coves and clear rock-pools, and kids take delight in spotting immense pink boulders that resemble poured bottles of wine and tortoises, actually huge granite rocks transformed by the power of the tides and winds. It’s a bit like cloud watching where your mind comes up with many fancies of what the shapes are. Just made for kids with vivid imaginations. Start at Trestraou beach in Perros-Guirec and follow the GR34 old customs officers’ path. Along the way you’ll encounter weather-beaten rocks, some as high as 20m including Napoleon’s hat, the Devil’s Castle, a witch, a rabbit and many more, all-changing colour with the light. The round-trip is 7km and takes about 2 hours. Do the walk in the early morning or evening for the most dramatic light effects. Near the cove of Pors Kamor is a lifeboat station and lighthouse, from where you soon reach the Maison du Littoral (summer Mon-Sat 1000-1300, 1400-1800, school holidays Mon-Fri 1400-1700) which has displays about nature and geology in this unique environment.

(c) Jane Anderson
Local legends come to life in the forest with the ADDES storytellers.

ADDES storytelling in the forest

Addes is a group of young entrepreneurs who also happen to be passionate about Monts d’Arrée and its strong Breton story telling and legends.  In an area where you’re hard pushed to find work, they started up their own company offering outings, rambles and walks themed around local legends, nature and wildlife and kids. 10 years later, they now attract around 7000 visitors a year, half of those kids.

Headquarters is a tiny village called Botmeur deep in the Parc Naturel Regional d’Armorique in Finistère. Kids storytelling and sing-along walks through the forest begin at the school car park and are hosted by Katell, originally from Wales, and Fred the guitarist who looks straight out of troubadour central casting. Songs are sung in Breton, French, English and occasionally Welsh, but none of that seems to matter to the kids. They all join in whatever language it is. A song like ‘Five Little Ducks’ (Cinq Petits Canards) is easily recognisable in French with the help of cute finger puppets. It’s a great way of exposing your kids to other languages and encourage them to have a go. There’s plenty of things to spot along the way like a woodpecker’s hole in a tree.

For older children, especially those who are learning French, there are nature and wildlife walks including the hidden beauties of the Yeun Elez, or inspiring sunrise walk to blow the cobwebs away. A gold panning walk reveals the prospecting techniques and the alluvial minerals of Brittany. Moonlight walks are magical as you discover the legends and stories about the little people, the Korrigans, who inhabit the area. You may even spot one!

Meet at Botmeur School, T02 98 99 66 58,, Apr-Aug and Easter hols. Children’s walks €6 per person. €5 per person for a group of 4 or more.

 (c) Jane Anderson
Steer a yacht to sea with this simulator at La Cité de la Voile.

La Cité de la Voile (Éric Tabarly Sailing Museum)

If you and your kids have even the slightest interest in sailing, you’ll all be in mariners’ heaven at La Cité de la Voile. This inspiring museum which opened in 2010 marks a new wave of family attractions in Brittany with its intelligent approach to de-mystifying the world of sailing. Inspired by the legendary French yachtsman Éric Tarbarly (1931-1998), it’s the kind of place that adults will love just as much as kids and the closest you’ll ever come to sailing on dry land.

Appropriately located near Lorient’s submarine base, you can’t miss this architecturally striking building by the water designed by Jacques Ferrier. Downstairs is the vast temporary exhibits space. During 2011 it’s all about ‘World Sailing Tours’.Upstairs is the permanent exhibition where the museum really comes into its own. It begins with a graceful look at man’s complex relationship with the sea. More like an art installation than a museum exhibit, high tech screens hang in a darkened space with images of the sea projected on them from great ocean swells to mermaids.

Visitors exit to more conventional exhibits which track the history of sea conquest from ancient galleys to oceanographic vessels. Questions are answered such as what boat for which trip? How is a boat propelled by the wind? You can even design your own sailing boat on an interactive terminal.Then comes the really fun part where you get to scramble inside the galley of a yacht, take the helm, size yourself up against a great sailor using a simulator, see if you can pull up the rigging and many other sailing skills, all without getting wet.

In front of the museum is a real yacht on dry land, which is also a simulator in front of a large wind machine so that kids can ‘sail’ their own boat. They have to be between 1.2m and 1.6m tall. One on one instruction is provided on handling the rudder, tacking and so on.

From April to September, visitors can go on a real sailing boat from the museum’s futuristic pontoon. The skipper will explain the basics of handling a sailing boat before you set sail with the Port Louis Citadel and Island of Groix as a backdrop. Kids get to help and take the helm alongside the captain. Back on dry land, there are sailor’s certificates to be had. If this doesn’t get your little ones dreaming of being the next Ellen MacArthur, I don’t know what will.

Base des Sous-Marins de Kéroman, 56100 Lorient, €11, €24 with tour of harbour, adult, €8, €19.40 with tour of harbour child (5-17). Under 5 free. Family ticket €37.50, €79.50 with tour of harbour.

(c) Jane Anderson
Enjoy the fantastical metal sculptures of the Scrap Metal Poet.

Musée du Poète Ferrailleur (Scrap Metal Poet)

The Musée du Poète Ferrailleur is one of those totally unique places that kids and adults will be entranced by. The magic comes from the fact that something has been made out of nothing with just imagination and hard graft. The scrap metal sculptures themselves are extraordinary enough ranging from merry-go-rounds to full-size flying boats full of crazy people and animals, but each has a button for you to press and set in motion - the combination of colour, sound and movement is entrancing. Once you’ve finished marvelling at the imaginative concept, you start looking at what bits and pieces Robert Coudray has used to create them: individual parts begin to emerge from the whole – a tap, a fork, a bed-spring, even German helmets rung like bells. Outdoors there are many more pieces, making use of wind and water power, with a more serious, educational look at energy and ecological building. There’s a crazy tower house in the style of a Tim Burton creation with a giant hand chair inside. There’s also a fabulous little film tracing the origins of the Scrap Metal Poet’s life and inspiration described as a ‘mechanical bewitchment’. Even though it’s in French with English subtitles, it’s easy to follow the narrative for non-readers. There’s everything here – skill, imagination, humour and a vibrant sense of simply being alive. Don’t miss it!

La Ville Stéphant 56460 (2km from Lizio), T02 97 74 97 94, - €6 adult, €5 child (4-14), under 3 free.

 (c) Jane Anderson
Enjoy Brittany's Celtic culture with a traditional outdoor party.

Join in a Fest-Noz

These lively Celtic night parties are a chance to go out as the stars are coming out for a local knees up. Kids and adults alike can join in the Celtic country dancing often to the accompaniment of Breton bagpipes. Held throughout summer, usually on a Friday or Saturday, the best Fest Noz are outdoors in a lovely setting like the waterfront at Port Manech in Finistère. Here they have candyfloss, old-fashioned games of chance like hooking a little wrapped present out of a fishing boat with a rod. Those little plastic toys that end up being the best thing in the world, simply because you won it. There’s fresh food including muscles and frites, steak and of course cups of Breton cider for a euro or two. On a mobile stage, first class singers and musicians break out into the crowds and the Celtic country dancing begins with Breton bagpipes (biniou), a wind instrument resembling an oboe (bombarde) and plenty of heart felt pride. Everyone holds hands and dances in a circle, children swept up in the fun. Some are free, some charge a small fee of around €8 which includes food and drink.

Brittany with Kids by Jane Anderson is available from our online shop today.

Follow Travel with Kids on  Follow Travel with Kids on Twitter

Become a fan of Travel with Kids on Facebook  Become a fan of Travel with Kids on Facebook

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
Products in this Region

  No related products

PDF Downloads

  No PDFs currently available

Digital Products

Available NOW!