Brittany South Featured Image

Beautiful Brittany: Roadtrippin’ the South

Brittany (Bretagne), in the west of France was our choice for a roadtrip first half of this year.

We had planned our vacation to France specifically for Roland Garros, and had bought tickets for three days of the opening rounds and the men’s finals.

French open men final 2023
The Men’s Final. We had a great view!

With about a week to kill between the start and the end of the French Open, we had many thoughts as to where to go in France. Having already been to Provence, Lyon, Burgundy, Champagne, we considered the Loire region, but in the end, the thought of going to the coastal western fronts of France won out.

(As oenophiles, naturally Bordeaux was the first thought and we did that when we arrived in France about a week before the French Open started. A recap of our Bordelaise adventures including magical St Emilion will be coming up next).

Back to beautiful Brittany. Land of striped shirts, seafood and sweet treats. By which I mean, the Kouign Aman. Everywhere you go, you will see stalls and shops selling this sticky, sweet, caramel-y pastry.

Striped shirts of Bretagne
Rainjackets in Brittany
Kouign Aman from Bretagne
Eating crepe in Vannes

Brittany can also take credit for the crêpe. And its savoury cousin, the galette. In the six days that we were there, I think we ate a total of twelve crêpes – it was that ubiquitous!

How We Approached Brittany:

When I first started planning the itinerary for Brittany, I must admit it was a little overwhelming. There were so many names and areas that I had never heard of, and it seemed that all four corners of Bretagne had places of interest.

The Pink Granite coast and Dinan in the North, Vannes and Quiberon in the South, Mont St-Michel and St Malo in the East, Quimper and Pont-Aven in the West – and many more names kept popping up in my research.

While it would have been great to drive around all four points of Brittany, the reality is that distances are long. Unless we were just planning to touch and go, but we knew that we did not want to rush our visits.

So I simply had to filter to allow for several top attractions combined with enough easy, relaxing, small village visits.

The Bretagne official website was useful once I had roughly decided on the areas I wanted to visit. At the onset though, the site was the major culprit for making me feel like I had to do everything in Brittany.

I read several other blogs and decided on the below groups of “highlights”.

Group 1:

  • Vannes
  • Pont Aven
  • Rochefort-en-Terre

Group 2:

  • Dinan
  • St Malo
  • St Suliac
  • St Sulpice
  • Cancale
  • Mont Saint-Michel

Group 3:

  • Juno and Omaha Beach
  • Bayeux
  • Caen

However, all this had to be reviewed once we reached Brittany. Especially when we entered our amazing accommodations in Vannes and Dinan that made us just want to do nothing but chill with a book and some wine!

What We Ended Up Doing In Brittany:

Day 1 (Friday) : Vannes

Vannes Brittany Place Henri IV
Place Henri IV.
Monsieur et Madame Vannes
Monsieur et Madame Vannes, welcoming you.

Trains from Paris to Brittany depart from Montparnasse station. We had bought all necessary train tickets months before our travel on the SNCF Connect website. The SNCF app is a good thing to have, too, as you can just show the mobile ticket to get in, no need for print-outs.

The journey from Paris to Vannes was around 2.5 hrs. Usually we just pick up something at one of the cafés in the train station to eat on board.

After picking up our car from SIXT, located a short walk from the Vannes train station, we drove to the parking provided by our accommodation host.

We had chosen our lodging well, it was right smack in the historic centre, in fact, we were part of a row of much-admired half-timbered houses on Rue St Salomon. More on that at the end of the article.

All we had to do was step out and we were surrounded by everything you’d expect from a town in Bretagne. Cobblestones streets, half-timbered houses, the local church as a landmark, ramparts all around, crêperies and stores selling kouign aman galore.

Quirky Half-timbered houses Vannes
The unstable appearance adds that quirky vibe to the half-timbered houses.

You can easily cover the sights in a day. The tourist map helpfully identifies three walking routes: The Medieval Quarter (45 mins), The Fortifications (45 mins) and St Patern Quarter (15 mins).

Of course those are indicative times, you would probably spend longer taking in the sights, photos, and having a meal or a snack as you go along.

Day 2 (Saturday) : More Vannes and Rochefort-en-Terre

A luxuriously late start to the day, after breakfast at the apartment, we visited the Fish Market. Tried the local speciality, the andouille galette, hmm, the smell was pungent indeed, thanks to the intestines!

We were eyeing the fresh oysters from the Gulf of Morbihan but since the market closed at 1.30pm, we had to take the oysters to go which worked fine, we went home to eat a 2nd lunch with our Gewurztraminer.

Andouille galette
Should have pried it apart to show the insides of the insides 🙂
Oysters in Vannes
Oysters in our apartment, tasted even better with the Gewurztraminer!

The plan for the day was to visit Rochefort-en-Terre, classified as one of the ‘most beautiful villages in France’ which is evident as soon as you start walking around.

It’s just under 40 minutes to drive and it’s worth the visit from Vannes.

We spent about two hours there, admiring the pretty flowers adorning the façades of houses, the architecture, the quirky signages, the castle, and stopped for yet more crêpes for teatime.

Rochefort-en-Terre 1 Brittany
The main square. Lovely to see something different from the usual colombage buildings we’ve been seeing all over Vannes.
Rochefort-en-Terre 4 Brittany
You will still see the half-timbered houses, alongside the granite houses, which makes for a good variety to observe on your stroll.
Rochefort-en-Terre 2
Chateau de Rochefort-en-Terre Brittany
Château de Rochefort-en-Terre.

Walking through Parc du Chateau
Walking through Parc du Château de Rochefort-en-Terre towards Naia Museum.
Naia Museum Rochefort En Terre Brittany
We didn’t visit the museum in the park, not too keen on the fantastical artistic style but you may like it!
Rochefort-en-Terre Brittany Signs
Another sign Rochefort-en-Terre
Crepes and me at Rochefort en Terre
Crepe at Rochefort-en-Terre Brittany

Heading back to Vannes, we reached just in time for an apero at our apartment before heading for dinner – this time at the nearby Chez La Mère 6 Sous.

After which, we walked down to the port and tried to get nice photos of the full moon by the water.

Chez La Mère 6 Sous Vannes Brittany
One would think after a day of crêpe and more crêpe, that I might skip dinner but… this happened!
Vannes port and full moon Brittany
Lucky us to have a gorgeous moon lighting up our stroll along Vannes port.

Day Three (Sunday) : Pont-Aven

We checked out the St Patern district, home to more half-timbered house and the Eglise St Patern. It was a Sunday and there was a church service and we literally saw people in their Sunday Best.

St Patern Vannes Brittany
At Vannes Jardin de Remparts

Then, despite already feeling the impact of days of unwillingly tanning under the gorgeous blue skies, we went to the Jardin des Remparts.

How could we not? Vannes is small, and we couldn’t help but want to stumble upon this garden outside of the town walls.

Le Jardin des Remparts Vannes Brittany
Perhaps we were a little too early, I’m not sure, but we didn’t see an explosion of flowers, maybe this was still the season for tiny wildflowers.

Still, it was pleasant enough to walk around and especially interesting is Les Lavoirs de Garenne (just imagine back in the day when people used to do their laundry by the river).

Marle River Vannes
Now you contemplate life instead by the river Marle.

Pont Aven: Gauguin’s Brittany Playground.

After, we visited Pont Aven, a charming little place, reminded us of Sur-La-Sorgue in Provence. It’s an hour’s drive from Vannes and it would make sense to stop at Carnac to see the 3000 megalithic stones there as it’s along the way, but we had no desire to spend more time in the blazing sun amidst prehistoric rocks. Even if they are older than Stonehenge and quite intriguing.

Pont Aven waterway Brittany

Pont Aven is yet another pretty village, its fame thanks to the fact that in 1886, master painter Paul Gauguin founded the School of Pont Aven, with other painters who were inspired by the natural beauty of Pont Aven.

The Mills on Pont Aven
Something special about Pont Aven is the concentration of mills along just 2km of river.
Eglise Saint Joseph Pont Aven Brittany
Eglise Saint Joseph.
Pont Aven 2 Brittany
Pont Aven and me
Building in Pont Aven
Well, I wouldn’t mind living here.

You can play pretend painter and imagine the scenes they painted as you stroll along the footbridges. The river that runs through it meanders around boulders and quaint flower-adorned houses.

Being an arty destination, the streets are dotted with galleries and you will see artists in action. Of course, there are cute boutiques to stop into and crêperies – yes, we had crêpes for lunch, again!

Crepes in Pont Aven
Here we go again!
Cute dog in Pont Aven Brittany
This cutie just crawled onto my lap and insisted on staying there!

Had we not reached our heat breaking point, we would have loved to stroll the aptly-named Bois d’Amour, well, maybe next time!

Next, our Brittany journey heads up North to Dinan, St Malo and Mont Saint-Michel. Read more in Beautiful Brittany: Roadtrippin’ the North.

Our Accommodation in Vannes, Bretagne:

15 Rue St Salomon Vannes Brittany
See the No. 15? That’s the famous house, and we are right next to it at No. 13.
Vannes Chic Apartment Brittany
Felt like home away from home!

I cannot imagine a better place to stay at when visiting Vannes. The apartment is part of the row of historic half-timbered houses on Rue St Saloman, a street recognised for this popular architectural style from the medieval times up to the 18C.

These houses are called maison à colombage. In fact, the house connected next to ours, is featured in the local guides, and our own unit, built in the 1670s (!) is mentioned in this article by this proud Vannes native.

The interior is very modern, classy and cosy, all at the same time. You can tell that the owners have thought of every detail and decorated with finesse. When we first arrived, we were tempted to just stay in the next few days, enjoying wine and watching the French Open on the large TV!

It has a fully-equipped kitchen with Nespresso machine and all the utensils and cutlery you need. With the heat outside, it was nice to have a washing machine, for freshly-washed clothes!

The hospitable owner of our lodging conveniently met us at the free and sheltered garage carpark that he was providing us. From there, he gave us clear instructions on how to access the carpark during our stay, and then proceeded to help me with my suitcase to the accommodation.

It’s a short walk, but in a medieval town like Vannes, you can expect cobblestones and little slopes, so his help was much appreciated.

We booked the apartment via It is called Apartement Chic en Hyper Centre de Vannes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *