The Perfect 3, 4 or 5-Day Brittany Road Trip Itinerary


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Strap in, fill up and don’t forget to drive on the right, because our Brittany road trip itinerary will get you on the winding roads of the Breton countryside, from fishing towns and ports to quaint cobbled villages. Over 3, 4 or 5 days in Brittany you’ll get to experience islands, ramparts, châteaux and pilgrimage sites that dot the colourful landscape.

How Many Days in Brittany?

Brittany is a large region in western France with a strong identity that you can feel in many cities and towns across the department, although they each have their own charm and unique character.

Having a car gives you a lot more freedom to move from place to place as and when you please, so you might be wondering how many days to spend in Brittany to get the most out of your trip.

You can get a flavour of the area over 3 days in Brittany with its unique architecture, language and remains of the Gallo-Roman and Celtic influences.

However in order to spend more time, be able to sample the delicious Breton cuisine, see more quaint villages, and enjoy the beautiful coastline, you need at least 4 days in Brittany.

5 days makes for a perfect bite-size road trip, getting to know the countryside as you drive along the winding roads and stopping along en route to visit the châteaux and historic sites and immerse yourself in Breton life.

If you happen to have more time, there are plenty more small towns and beautiful places along the coast (and maybe take in an iconic lighthouse) and inland (such as the walled city of Dinan) to visit in Brittany itself. Alternatively, you could head north and explore neighbouring Normandy – this part of France is famed for its historic beaches and for the tidal island castle of Mont Saint-Michel.

Saint-Malo in Brittany
Saint-Malo in Brittany

Getting To & Around Brittany

The largest city in the Brittany region (or Bretagne in French) is Rennes, which is accessible from most major cities in France. For instance, you can reach Rennes in about 1.5-2 hours via train from Paris.

Alternatively, as this is a road trip in Brittany, you can hire a car in Paris if you feel like driving to Brittany – this will take about 4 hours depending on the route you take and the traffic. You can browse rental car options here.

If you’re heading to Brittany from the United Kingdom, the easiest way is by ferry from England’s south coast. With Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth, or Condor from Poole, you can arrive in Saint-Malo in around 7 hours.

You can also fly from London to Jersey, where you can take an 85-minute ferry to Saint-Malo. If you prefer to fly, or you’re coming from further afield, you can fly to Rennes airport, located just East of central Brittany, where you can rent a car for your Brittany road trip.

You can also take the train to Rennes from Paris, after taking the Eurostar from London, or simply bring your own car over on the Eurotunnel and drive straight to the starting point on your Brittany itinerary. You can view train schedules here.

Within each town or city, you’ll be able to park your car for a small fee or find free parking spots, from which you can then walk around the town centre. It can also very much be worth seeking out a hotel or accommodation option that provides parking.

Rennes City Hall
Rennes City Hall

3, 4 or 5 Days in Brittany Itinerary

Start your trip in Brittany in the northern port of Saint-Malo before heading through the countryside via Josselin to the south coast where you’ll find the picturesque town of Auray and the historic city of Vannes, before spending the final afternoon in France’s most beautiful village.

Day 1 – Saint-Malo

Arriving by ferry from England or driving from northern France, Saint-Malo is a fantastic place to spend the first day of your Brittany road trip. 

Ramparts and Islets

After settling into your hotel or campsite, you can explore the walled port city of Saint-Malo, starting with the city walls themselves, which you can use to navigate around the city to each stop in this medieval town.

Reaching 2 km around the city, the ramparts are accessible from many different staircases around the city, although you can start from the Saint-Thomas Gate for a wonderful view of the National Fort directly in front of you and the islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé to the left.

Continue round to the Bastion de la Hollande, where you have more stunning views, as well as stairs down to the Bon Secours beach.

At low tide, you can walk from the beach to the islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé, where you can visit the resting place of the famous Frenchman Chateaubriand, and wander around the 17th-century fort respectively, while turning to take in the wonderful panoramic views of the town of Saint-Malo.

National Fort

The whole bay was fortified in the 1600s, with four forts being built on the islets and harbour based on legendary engineer Vauban’s designs. You can also visit the National Fort at low tide from l’Eventail beach, which you can reach from la Galère car park, a few hundred metres away.

The fort was built to protect Saint-Malo from various maritime attacks, and now welcoming visitors centuries later on a 35-minute guided tour for just 5 euros.

If the flag is raised, then the fort is open for visitors, usually from 10 am but opening hours are irregular and change according to the tide, so check online before you go or look out for the flag.

National Fort in Sant-Malo
National Fort in Saint-Malo

Château de Saint-Malo

As you head into the city or back along the ramparts, you can see some remnants of the heavy Allied bombing the city suffered during WWII, although the majority of the city was rebuilt from 1948 to 1960.

In the North of the city, by the Saint-Vincent Gate, is the 15th-century castle of Saint-Malo, which now houses the town hall in its former dungeons and the Saint-Malo Museum in its other rooms. Although construction began in the early 1400s, the château was expanded many times over the years, including the addition of two towers in the 16th century.

You can explore the fort and its grounds over an hour or two for just a few euros, or simply take in its exterior before exploring the rest of the town, such as the 12th-century Saint-Vincent Cathedral.

Port

As your first day in Brittany comes to an end, stroll around the port for wonderful views and pick out a coastal restaurant for wonderful sunset views over fresh seafood.

A classic French dish you have to try is Moules Frites, mussels cooked in usually a white wine sauce, accompanied by chips, however, this stretch of coast is known for Coquilles Saint-Jacques, otherwise known as Great Scallops, which you can have prepared in more ways than you can imagine in many of the fine restaurants surrounding the port.

If you prefer something meatier, you can try Le Beurre Bordier, a wonderful restaurant in the centre of the town created by a local butter manufacturer, serving deliciously rich dishes.

In November, every four years, you can also enjoy the beginning of a transatlantic yacht race to Guadeloupe, the Route du Rhum, from the port of Saint-Malo. First beginning in 1978, the current record was set in November 2022, with a time of just over 6 days, 19 hours and 47 minutes.

Port in Sant-Malo
Port in Saint-Malo
Where to Stay in Rennes

Brittany’s largest city of Rennes makes for an excellent base for the first part of this itinerary. It has a lot of options available to you and is conveniently located within easy reach of a number of the stops on this trip.

Le Magic Hall – This 3-star hotel in the Centre Ville district of Rennes is a great base when exploring Brittany. They have several cosy rooms on offer and there is also breakfast available daily – along with plenty of other amenities.

Le Saint Antoine Hotel – If you’re looking for a luxury option while staying in Rennes, then this hotel is a great choice. They have an excellent, central location, plenty of lovely rooms to choose from an on-site swimming pool and spa and there is also private parking available.

Apparts’ Rennes BnB Duhamel – Those who’d like their own apartment while visiting Brittany will love this place in Rennes. They have fully furnished flats available and offer breakfast and on-site parking for guests, as well.

Les Chouettes Hostel – Budget and solo travellers will love this highly-rated hostel located in the centre of Rennes. They offer both dorm beds and private rooms, have clean self-catering facilities and also some convivial common areas making it easy to meet others.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Rennes hotels!

Day 2 – Rennes

As the capital of the department of Brittany, Rennes is its largest city. However, it’s a great stop for one day on your Brittany road trip as we move away from the cost and the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel. The city is varied and has its main attractions located within a few kilometres in the centre.

Old Town

Known for its medieval houses with colourful outer beams, Rennes’ old town is the cultural heart of the city.  With Rennes Cathedral and the Breton parliament in the northern side of the city, there are many notable houses owned by significant families in this area, as the city was largely destroyed in a fire in 1720, and the poorer, southern half wasn’t rebuilt.

Enjoy meandering around the city streets, taking in the magnificent architecture and historic monuments such as the Portes Mordelaises, a huge former gateway to the city that formed part of the ancient city walls.

This area is surrounded by crêperies, so it’s perfect for a spot of lunch; try the Breton classic galettes, with bacon pieces and egg or boudin blanc accompanied by crisp Breton cider. Or if you have a sweet tooth, try the sweeter, weaker ciders with crêpes and desserts, or the Breton Pommeau.

The town centre is also home to a unique French music and film shop – O’CD. O’CD can be found in a few cities across France, and they have a wonderful collection of world music, which you can listen to in the shop before you buy.

They have a great collection of French music of all genres too, so ask inside for something local for the soundtrack to your Brittany trip.

Rennes Old Town
Rennes Old Town

Parc du Thabor

Heading East from the city centre, you’ll come across the Parc du Thabor, a huge park in the heart of Rennes.

Created in 1868, the park has a number of walking routes around 11 huge flower beds displaying thousands of plant species. You can also enjoy an afternoon in the park’s rose garden, orangery and botanical garden, with hundreds of tree species and over 1500 herb species.

The whole park was renovated between 2008 and 2018 and is a delightful break from the city centre, one of the factors that made locals vote Rennes the most pleasant French city to live in. What’s more, the park is free to enter every day!

Musée des Beaux-Arts

A short walk south from the park, crossing the Vilaine River, you can find Rennes’ Museum of Fine Arts.

You can visit the magnificent building housing works by many revered artists including Picasso, Rubens, da Vinci and Botticelli as well as Egyptian and Greek sculptures.

Most of the collection comes from the collection of former President of the Parliament of Brittany, Christophe-Paul de Robien, although some works were seized from religious buildings during the French Revolution. With the wealth of art on display for free, as well as temporary exhibitions, you’re guaranteed to enjoy exploring the many rooms of the Musée des Beaux-Arts.

If you have more time to spend here over at least 3 days in Brittany, you can take a short walk further south of the museum to Rennes’ cultural quarter.

Here you can find music venues, theatres, cinemas and museums as well as the Espace des Sciences. The Science Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and has a planetarium, perfectly rounding off your adventurous day in Rennes.

Day 3 – Josselin and Sainte Anne d’Auray

Following the N24 westwards for around an hour, you can reach the charming town of Josselin, with its beautiful canal-side château, before relaxing into an afternoon walking along the river or heading straight to the peaceful pilgrim site and war memorial further South.

Château de Josselin

Arriving in Josselin’s centre, after parking for free by the canal side, it’s hard to miss Josselin’s charming château, towering over the town. With its Flamboyant Gothic architecture, the Château de Josselin proudly displays the long history of this ancient city.

Construction of the castle began in the early 11th century by the Rohan family, whose descendants still live there today, and has been transformed many times over the years. It was restored in 1822 after serving as a prison during the French Revolution and now opens its doors to visitors.

Tickets cost €10.80 and include the castle, grounds and doll and puppet museum located in the grounds.

Chateau de Josselin
Chateau de Josselin

Sainte-Croix Quarter

Heading back into the city centre, you’ll come across the Sainte-Croix district; as old as the castle itself and restored in 2006, this charming area of cobbled streets surrounding the Sainte-Croix Chapel is filled with the traditional half-timbered houses.

As you amble the streets, look for Far Breton, a custard tart with prunes which has been made in Brittany for over 300 years.

Canal Walk

Before jumping in your car and heading further south to Sainte Anne d’Auray, take a stroll along a small river from l’Oust Canal in the centre of the town, into the more natural area.

There’s a charming circuit called Au Fil de l’Eau, which you can follow past locks, a mill and weir while reading informative signs about the area’s fauna and flora as you experience it.

It looks amazing in Spring and Autumn with plants displaying their bright colours, but it’s an equally enjoyable afternoon stroll at any time of the year.

The whole circuit is around 2 km, so if you prefer not to complete the whole thing, you can see the beginning of the trail before continuing to your next stop on your trip in Brittany, 45 minutes away.

Sainte Anne d’Auray

As the third most popular French pilgrimage site, Lourdes of course being number one, Sainte Anne d’Auray is a very popular attraction for all kinds of tourists and an essential stop over 3 or 4 days in Brittany.

Supposedly Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus, appeared in the woods near an old chapel to Yvon Nicolazic on 25 July 1624 and asked him to rebuild it. Two days later, he found a statue of Saint Anne in the chapel ruins, which confirmed the apparition and he set about rebuilding the chapel.

200 years later, the chapel was too small to cope with the crowds who had undertaken the pilgrimage to the site, so the basilica was built in its place in 1872.

Now, each year hundreds of thousands of people make the trip to the 17-acre site, with most coming on the Feast of Saint Anne, 26 July, for the Grand Pardon. Pope John Paul II even visited in September 1996. However, many people now also visit due to the large war memorial in the grounds of the basilica, built in 1932.

52 metres high and 12 metres across, the design was meant to commemorate the 240,000 Breton people who died in WWI, although just 8,000 names were engraved on the surrounding in a horseshoe-shaped wall.

Following WWII and the French-Indochina War, a mausoleum was placed in the crypt in memory of the dead of all wars. The tombs are watched over by Saint Michael, patron Saint of France, and Saint Yves, a patron Saint of Brittany.

Camp near the area or find a hotel near Quiberon, just a few kilometres away, for the night ready for your next day.

Where to Stay in Quiberon

For the final few days of this Brittany itinerary, plan to spend the night in the village of Quiberon. There are plenty of places to stay in this lovely place that can suit all kinds of visitors.

Hôtel Port Haliguen – This bright hotel is located only 150 metres from the beach and is the perfect place for mid-range visitors. They have comfortable rooms to choose from, an excellent breakfast on offer in the mornings and free parking available.

La Petite Sirène – Overlooking the sea and situated directly on the beach, this hotel is perfect for those looking for coastal escape in Brittany. There are a range of lovely rooms available, a great buffet breakfast each morning and on-site parking for guests, as well.

Louison Apartment & Suite – This aparthotel is an excellent choice for those who’d like their own self-catering place to stay on Brittany’s south coast. There are great flats and suites to choose from along with plenty of amenities to ensure your stay is a great one.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Quiberon hotels!

Beach in Quiberon
Beach in Quiberon

Day 4 – Quiberon and Auray

After 3 days in Brittany, it’s time to hit the south coast to relax on the beaches, hike around the hills and unwind in the quaint port town of Auray.

Quiberon

Joining the D768 South to the Quiberon peninsula, get ready for a chilled morning on the beautiful beaches, or an active day walking around the countryside before heading off for some great seafood.

Over 30 km of coastline, Quiberon is known for having amazing long beaches that you can take a picnic to and have a fun day à la plage with the family, however, if you have more than 4 days in Brittany, stay in this area for a few days so you can make the most of the coastal hikes as well as the delicious seafood, butter and archaeological discoveries.

Along the beach towards Nantes is the town of Guerande, famous for its high-quality rock salt that’s often used in Breton butter, so grab a baguette, some Breton butter, fresh-cut ham or a tin of sardines and get ready for a delightful picnic with the simple flavours of the region while you walk or cycle around the natural grassy areas, uncovering megaliths as you go, with the sea on both sides of you.

Or, if you prefer to take a walk and sate your hunger in a restaurant, head somewhere like Chez Chaton for wonderful seafood (Quiberon is known for its oyster cultivation) or a charcuterie platter with incredible sea views, or try the traditional seafood stew Cotriade.

Auray

After a lovely morning in the outdoors, and a delicious lunch, travel about 40 minutes to reach the beautiful quaint port town of Auray.

After parking in any of the free parking lots around the town, wander around the pretty town centre, enjoying the market on Mondays showcasing the best of the local produce, before heading back to the riverside.

The Pont-Neuf bridge over the Auray River gives you an amazing view of the town of Auray, and Port d’Auray, and you can walk along the river on both sides. Starting from the Ancienne Fontaine Chazelles, walk through Port d’Auray, which has been well-preserved for 600 years including old ships, to Port de Saint-Goustan on the opposite side of the river.

The Port de Saint-Goustan is the original town located at the highest tidal point of the river that ships can reach, although its trade declined after the construction of the railway in 1862.

If you have time, you can explore the ramparts around the port of Auray with its winding cobbled paths giving you breathtaking views over the town and river.

You can also take boat rides along the river to take in the beautiful scenery, before finding a restaurant around the port to enjoy your Breton cuisine with outstanding views.

Auray Old Town
Auray Old Town

Day 5 – Vannes and Rochefort-en-Terre

Spend your fifth of 5 days in Brittany visiting the beautiful city of Vannes and the prettiest village in France, Rochefort-en-Terre.

Vannes Old Town

Vannes has plenty to offer on its own as a weekend city break or day trip, however, if you’re on a road trip through Brittany, you should still stop by to enjoy the old town and port.

Starting in the Saint-Patern district with a coffee and crêpe or croissant for breakfast in one of the many small cafes in the area, especially along Rue de la Fontaine, you can enter the old town via the old prison gate, Porte Prison de Saint-Patern.

Used as a prison during the French Revolution. The Saint-Patern district is actually the oldest area of the city, having been the location of the original Gallo-Roman settlement of Darioritum, before becoming Vannes when the Celts arrived.

Walk down Rue Saint-Gwenaël with its ornate corbels and lattice work on display, down to the Cathedral Saint-Pierre de Rennes, rebuilt after the French Revolution, and the Cohue Fine Arts Museum which is housed in a 13th-century building that briefly served as the Breton Parliament in the 17th century.

Nearby, where Rue Rogue and Rue Noé meet, you can see two small figures of Mr and Mrs Vannes, representatives of the residents of Vannes and based on the original residents of the 16-century building they’re located on.

Continue to Place des Lices, a small square where mediaeval tournaments were held before being surrounded by colourful mansions and the traditional half-timbered houses, which show the wealth of the city thanks to its lucrative port. You can also visit the market here on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Vannes Old Town
Vannes Old Town

Remparts de Vannes

From the old town, find Promenade de la Garenne, which lines the Ramparts of Vannes. Built by the Romans in the 3rd century, the city walls were decorated with towers and gateways and fortified to protect the city from attack in the 14th century, however, King Louis XIV later sold the stones from the wall to finance his wars.

The Calmont Tower still stands tall, and the French formal gardens surrounding the ramparts make the site well worth a visit. Next to the Jardin des Remparts, is the Jardins du Château Hermine and Parc de la Garenne, a beautiful garden and city park, which are perfect for a sit down with an ice cream or galette-saucisse.

Port de Vannes

Leaving the old town from the Porte de Saint-Vincent and entering Place Gambetta, you arrive at the port of Vannes. This semi-circular square sits at the entrance of the port, with numerous cafés to choose from if you’d like to sit and enjoy the views, or you can walk along the riverside if you prefer a stroll.

The Promenade de la Rabine is a delightful tree-lined path following Le Marle River for approximately 2 km, where towards the end you’ll find a Breton microbrewery Awen, a great place to stop on a summer’s day, or Le Piano Barge, a jazz club on the river.

If a 4km circuit isn’t enough, then carry on to the Conleau peninsula, over 4 km from Place Gambetta, where you’ll find incredible views of the surrounding landscape.

Rochefort-en-Terre

The final stop on this Brittany itinerary is undoubtedly the prettiest village in France.

While there is plenty to see and do in this small village, the best thing is to wander the quaint cobbled streets, stopping in the local artisanal shops and sampling the products.

You can find everything from handmade ice cream, marzipan, sweets and chocolates, to handbags, purses, shoes and other glass, leather and metal nick-nacks. Plus, in summer, the old town is completely pedestrianised.

Starting your day in the pretty Place Saint Michel on the East of the village, you can head into the centre, stopping at Crêperie Café La terrasse for a light lunch or continuing into Les Halles, the local marketplace.

From here, through Place du Puits, towards the castle, you can find a number of small artisanal shops full of sweet treats and souvenirs. Including L’art Gourmand, a Salon du Thé, serving fresh pastries, artisanal chocolates, homemade macarons and Breton buttery biscuits and cakes like Kouign-Amann.

On Thursdays in Summer, you can also head to Café de la Pente, for some live music to accompany your apératifs or dinner.

Carry on to the beautiful 12th-century Château de Rochefort-en-Terre; destroyed three times over the following years, the ruins were bought by American painter Alfred Klots in the early 1900s after he’d fallen in love with the village.

Klots turned the outbuildings into a mansion and drew artists from all over the world to Rochefort-en-Terre, and encouraged locals to decorate their properties with flowers to beautify the village – a now common trait in the village.

In the mansion, you can now find the Naïa Museum, a museum and gallery dedicated to magic and the mystic, taking its name from a mysterious clairvoyant who lived in the ruins of the castle and is said to have been able to read and write, perform ventriloquism and not feel pain, gaining her the label of the Witch of Rochefort-en-Terre.

If you have time and want a long walk, head to the Moulin Neuf lake for a 6 km walk around Rochefort-en-Terre, otherwise, simply enjoy the charming streets of this incredible Breton landmark.

Rochefort-en-Terre
Rochefort-en-Terre

While you might not find the heat you can get on the Côte d’Azur, Brittany is a beautiful region of France to discover, from its charming cobbled villages and timbered city centres to its unique cuisine, language and identity. Breizh Atao!

Are you planning to visit Brittany? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Brittany Scott-Gunfield

Brittany is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Colchester, England, she is slowly but surely travelling the world as a digital nomad. She loves to hike around different landscapes and has a deep love for travelling around France (and elsewhere in Europe).

Comments

  1. Hi Brittany, would you recommend traveling in this area in November – December time frame. We need to be at a conference in Cannes and wanted to take a week and drive north and explore Brittany. Thank you.

    Reply

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