France

Highlights



St-Malo


This magnificent walled city, symbolic of St Malo’s proud and independent spirit, is seen to best effect on approach by boat to the harbour. It was painstakingly reconstructed after being almost destroyed in Second World War bombing. From this port, boats went off to fish for cod in Newfoundland in the 16th century and corsairs like Robert Surcouf ranged the world’s oceans.



Château de Fougères

A fabulous frontier fortress, immensely imposing in stature, despite being located below the High Town. This is truly a paradise of exploration for castle lovers of all ages, and the exceptional-quality, modern presentation gives visitors a real experience of the life and turbulent times of the château.
 
Forêt de Paimpont

A magical setting for Arthurian connections, this beautiful forest is known more commonly these days as the Forêt de Brocéliande. Here, Merlin was bewitched by the fairy Viviane, who brought up Lancelot beneath the waters of the lake by the Château de Comper. Miles of paths invite exploration, but beware the Valley of No Return.

St-Just

A remarkable megalithic site, little visited in comparison with other better known places. Here, on a high granite plateau, a whole succession of alignments and burial chambers unfolds across the wild landscape, and you will often be alone when trying to sense the arcane connection between Neolithic man and his beliefs.



Nantes–Brest canal

Some of the most beautiful stretches of this remarkable waterway are in western Morbihan, around the Ile-aux-Pies and Malestroit. A monument of 19th-century economic and social history, the canal has reinvented itself for modern times as an exceptional leisure resource. The continuous towpath is perfect for walking, cycling or simply dawdling along looking at wildlife and nature.

Côte de Goëlo

With the highest cliffs in Brittany near Plouha, glorious beaches, secluded coves and a series of pretty ports, this stretch of coastline has everything to offer for a family holiday or for those interested in outdoor activities. Following the coastal path along the green heights provides panoramic views and seascapes in the Bay of St-Brieuc.

Tréguier cathedral

This glorious cathedral contains the tomb of St-Yves, patron saint of Brittany, a lawyer famous for his impartial treatment of both rich and poor. Lawyers from all over the world attend the Pardon of St-Yves in May each year, when the relic of his skull is taken in procession to Minihy where he was born in 1250.
 
Pink Granite Coast

Weird and wonderful best describes the remarkable rock formations along this section of the northern coast, and the glowing pink of the granite only adds to the spectacle. Names like The Tortoise and Napoleon’s Hat give an idea of what to expect, but it's the sheer size and scale of this geological wonder that's dazzling.


 
Dinan

The famous duel of honour between Bertrand du Guesclin and Thomas of Canterbury during the 14th-century Wars of Succession was fought here in 1359. The heart of the old city retains a fantastic feast of colourful medieval buildings, surrounded by nearly two miles of towering ramparts that now provide a scenic walk with views down to the port far below.



Fort La Latte

A wild and romantic setting for this coastal castle, dating back to the 14th century and impregnable from the sea. In modern times it has proved an irresistible setting for film-makers: The Vikings (1957), starring Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, was shot here. There are breathtaking views across to the impressive Cap Fréhel from the keep and ramparts.

Cathedral of St-Corentin, Quimper

According to legend, King Gradlon called on St-Corentin to be the first bishop of Quimper in the fifth century. Building of the current cathedral started in 1239 but was delayed by the turbulence of war and plague in the 14th century. On resumption, the nave was added at a crooked angle, an oddity which only enhances the radiance of the interior today.

Menhir de Kerloas

This is the tallest upright standing stone in France, at almost 11 m. Legend said that hidden treasure beneath the menhir was revealed when the stone went off to drink from the ocean on the first stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve. However, since it returned on the second stroke, no one ever had time to get rich and stay alive.

Camaret

One of the most attractive ports in Brittany, Camaret has a long fishing tradition and a reputation as the place for lobsters. At the end of the natural curving cob is the glowing Tour Vauban, which fought off an English attack in 1694. Brightly painted houses, swimming beaches and superb coastal walks along the cliff paths add to the attraction.
 
Morlaix

This fascinating town, long a trading contact and rival of England, is often overlooked by tourists getting off the ferry at Roscoff and whizzing past on their way south. The ancient centre is dominated by the towering granite viaduct which brought the Paris–Brest railway line in the 1860s. Don’t miss the unique architectural form of the maisons à pondalez.



Monts d’Arrée

These ‘mountains’ are in fact the highest hills in Brittany. The bleak moors and craggy peaks often rise out of waves of thick mist over the basin of the reservoir at the heart of the Amorican regional park. Beware the black dog roaming the marshes at night! The mystical atmosphere is heightened by the little chapel of St-Michel, a lone sentinel on its hilltop.

Huelgoat

An enchanting forest surrounds the famous ‘chaos’ with its vast granite boulders, which have tumbled into incredible shapes. It's only too easy to believe the legends of giant hands being involved, and discarded lovers thrown into the chasm of the Gouffre. Less dramatically, you can follow the little canal through the woods to the remains of one of the oldest lead/silver mines in France.
 


Vannes

The treaty making Brittany part of France was signed here in 1532, and many of the impressive fortifications with towers and monumental gates from that date survive, together with a large medieval quarter of half-timbered houses. Look out for the symbolic Vannes et sa femme. And when you tire of culture and history, enjoy a drink in the lively port area, gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan.



Gulf of Morbihan

Whether you want to take a tour by boat, walk the coastal path, explore the Ile-aux-Moines or visit the world-famous Neolithic tomb on the island of Gavrinis, the Gulf offers you its calm waters and constantly changing seascapes.

Carnac

A heritage site with the most extensive Neolithic remains in Europe. Thousands of standing stones range across the countryside, interspersed with burial chambers and tumuli, giving the impression of a mecca of the New Stone Age, a focal point for the ceremonial celebrations of early man.

Rochefort-en-Terre

The most beautiful village in Brittany, with stunning architecture and award-winning displays of flowers. Strolling the cobbled streets is like viewing an architect’s sample book with superb period details from different centuries. It is also a centre of arts and crafts, so added appeal comes from the great variety of shops, galleries and restaurants.

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