Brittany attracts many tourists every year, just like the PACA region. Hard to believe? And yet, this is the reality, it offers a diverse list of beautiful towns, villages, and cities to visit in Brittany France (Bretagne). No matter which region you choose to explore in France, there are always pretty towns and villages to visit. Brittany is no exception. Although most of the activities that come to mind when we think of Brittany are linked to the ocean, Brittany also has a very rich historical and cultural heritage.
Whether you go there for the rich gastronomy, the stone heritage, or the freshness of its nature, Brittany always welcomes you with open arms. The pretty Breton villages hide between dense forests, sand dunes, and raging seas. Some of these villages in Brittany are very well-known and popular. Others, more discreet, allow themselves to be discovered by the most curious. The fourth tourist region in France, Brittany seduces with its diversity and attracts many tourists, just like the Basque Country for example. A maritime land if ever there was one, we discover the benefits of thalassotherapy and nautical activities of all kinds. But the charm of Brittany is also measured in its picturesque villages, among the most beautiful villages in France, where traditions are still alive. From Finistère to Ille-et-Vilaine via Côtes-d’Armor and Morbihan. We organized a list of beautiful towns, villages, and cities in Brittany France (Bretagne).
If there is one place to admire in Brittany it is Concarneau and its famous walled town full of charm. The city is also one of the must-see places in Brittany if you are looking for vestiges of the Middle Ages. The fortifications surrounded by sea marvelously evoke the past of this military fortress. Don’t hesitate to take the time to take a stroll and explore its streets, its cobbled houses, and its many small artisan shops. Framed by the two ports (fishing and pleasure) of Concarneau, the walled town is a world of its own. To experience the timeless charm of what was the cradle of the city, you must cross the bridge that connects the citadel to the quays and stroll along its main street and adjacent alleys. The walk along the ramparts reveals the site, a pocket-sized rocky islet, sheltered from a protected haven called Konk Kerné (the Cornouaille shelter in Breton).
A real must-see in the Quimper area, the medieval village of Locronan is distinguished by the authenticity of its cobbled streets. The stone houses are all marked by time and the shops fit perfectly into the general atmosphere. Entering Locronan is like discovering a Breton village frozen in time. It is one of the villages in Brittany which has never undergone any major renovation, due to increased poverty at a time when this was being done everywhere else. So, it remained as is, for our greatest pleasure. We recommend it all year round, especially during the summer and Christmas months. Indeed, in summer it is an almost bucolic place (especially on sunny days), in winter, it lights up with a thousand lights and becomes a Christmas market in itself.
Between the Loire and Vilaine estuaries, the Briéron marshes, and the ocean, Guérande is a unique example in Brittany of an ancient city still surrounded by all of its ramparts. With, at the four cardinal points, its Venntaise, Bizienne, Saillé, and Saint-Michel gates (which houses the Guérande country museum), its towers, its postern, its curtain walls, the city looks like a little Carcassonne. The moat that runs along the wall between the Théological tower and the Bizienne gate allows us to understand its nobility.
Just on the border of Brittany and Normandy, you will find the largest medieval fortress in Europe in Fougère. The pretty castle will allow you to learn more about the Dukes of Brittany. The beautiful Fougère belfry is one of the oldest in Brittany. If you prefer to relax in a more natural setting, there are two pretty gardens close to the town center, and there is also an ancient forest with megalithic sites very close to town.
It is one of the most charming small Breton towns where time seems to stand still. Its cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and slate roofs are ideal for a bucolic stroll with lovers, family, and even friends. During your getaway to Dinan, don’t miss the opportunity to see its monuments steeped in history: the medieval castle of Dinan, the Saint-Sauveur basilica, the Saint-Malo church, the Clock Tower, or even the Léhon Abbey. The village of Dinan is also part of our ranking of beautiful beautiful towns, villages, and cities in Brittany France (Bretagne). Very popular with tourists, Dinan stands out for the different architectural eras that can be found depending on the houses. Stone or half-timbered, the Dinan houses date from different centuries, sit side by side in the most charming way possible and form a magnificent whole. It is advisable to stroll there and get lost in the steep streets of the village, looking for temporal clues, and witnesses of past commercial and artisanal wealth. Read more at Best things to do in Dinan
6. La Roche-Bernard
La Roche-Bernard, like Locronan in Finistère, is considered a city of character. Its history, dating back to Antiquity, has allowed it to build quite significant historical and architectural heritage. However, La Roche-Bernard is one of those Breton villages that we also visit for its small marina and its banks on the Vilaine River. However, take the time to stroll through its cobbled streets and stone houses that have weathered over time. Labeled Small City of Character, La Roche-Bernard was built by the Viking Bern Hart (strong as a bear) in the 10th century. From its rocky promontory, we admire a splendid view of the Vilaine which has punctuated the daily life of this village for centuries. At the bottom of the Old Port, you will find the largest concentration of old rigging in Brittany, testimony to the intense maritime activity of La Roche-Bernard a few hundred years ago. To find out more, a visit to the Vilaine Maritime Museum at the Château des Basses-Fosses is a must!
Among the towns of character present in Brittany, Rochefort-en-Terre is undoubtedly the most beautiful of them. It is common knowledge that Rochefort-en-Terre invites contemplation, in a flowery environment with unique stones. This is the meeting point for artists: many of them have a stall there where you can view or buy their work. In addition, this Breton village has a 12th-century castle, destroyed several times, and then transformed into a manor by Alfred Klots, an American painter who loved the region. A little extra at the end of the year, like Locronan, the village is adorned with golden illuminations to become a magical place.
Rennes, which we of course visit for its heritage, can also be discovered along the water, between history and new urban planning. The narrow, winding streets are lined with numerous colorful timber-framed houses. There are plenty of things to see and visit in the Rennais region and Ille-et-Vilaine in general. Visit Bécherel and its eleven booksellers for your passion for books or Vitré and Fougères for their typical medieval architecture. The Château de Fougères is an exceptionally well-preserved and exotic must-see. This is also an opportunity to take a bike ride along the Ille-et-Rance canal and the Hédé Bazouges locks.
The village of Combourg owes its notoriety to Chateaubriand. The French poet lived there from 1777, and as a result, Combourg is sometimes nicknamed the cradle of romanticism. Those who have read Mémoires d’Outre Tombe will find the visit particularly interesting. There are lovely views of the castle from the lake, and the town center is made up of pretty granite and half-timbered houses. We enjoyed our visit to Combourg, but I don’t recommend it if your time in Brittany is very limited or if you don’t want to learn more about Chateaubriand. There are more beautiful villages in the region.
Saint-Malo is one of the best-known towns in Brittany, particularly due to its proximity to Mont Saint Michel, the second most visited site in France after Paris. The historic city is superb and very lively with its shops, restaurants and cafes. The walk along the ramparts (about two kilometers) offers magnificent views of the coast, the 18th-century forts, and the port of Saint-Malo. You can also climb to the top of the castle to enjoy the views of the region. If you have time, take a detour to Saint Suliac, just 10 kilometers further, on the way to Dinan. Saint Suliac has a charming port on the estuary of the La Rance River.
11. La Gacilly
La Gacilly is an ideal village that is sure to please all lovers of photography and artisanal know-how. An ideal day at La Gacilly begins with a morning strolling through its charming streets to discover the art of ironwork, glass, wood, leather… Take advantage of the afternoon to go get some fresh air and stroll through the surroundings, in the calm of shady forests or river banks. And if you are there in summer, don’t miss the Photography Festival, an important event in village life.
Situated on the banks of the Aven, the small Breton village of Pont-Aven will immerse you directly in the atmosphere that brings it to life. Worthy of a movie set, the village of Pont-Aven is known and recognized for its beauty and its landscapes. Moreover, many painters settled there, opened galleries, and used the Pontavian environment as a model. Between the stone houses at the water’s edge, the mills, and the trails with nature always a little wild, Pont-Aven stands out for the poetry that resides there and which brings this Brittany village to life.
A stone’s throw from Saint-Malo, stands Dol-de-Bretagne, a charming Breton village just as we like them. With its medieval appearance, we first see the immense Saint-Samson cathedral of Dol-de-Bretagne. However, the rest of the village is worth the detour: old half-timbered houses lined up in rows, narrow cobbled streets, visible frames. A real journey back in time, in an authentic atmosphere that locals and tourists love! Visiting Dol-de-Bretagne is also an opportunity to stop at Mont-Saint-Michel, located just 30 kilometers away. Take the time to go see Saint-Samson, its majestic Gothic cathedral, it’s worth it, then head off to discover the mythical Mont Saint-Michel, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
No wonder that in Bécherel words take on importance! Considered the Breton city of books, there are more than 14 bookstores, each more original than the last. From the bookstore florist to the bookstore-wine bar via the calligraphers’ or bookbinders’ workshops: bookworms will no longer know where to turn! The municipality of Rennes Métropole, Bécherel is one of the treasures of Ille-et-Vilaine and one of the most beautiful villages in Brittany.
The most charming villages in Brittany are often the oldest because they have managed to preserve their authenticity. In addition, time has left marks which have today become assets for each of them. Like Moncontour, a true historic city. Center of the sailing trade since the 17th century, its inhabitants made their fortune there. Today, the buildings that we see along the narrow streets are legacies of this rich era. Also, Moncontour can be visited keeping in mind that it is History that built it. Indeed, during the period of the canneries (wars of Vendée or the West), this Breton village was the cradle of several insurgent actions. Note that every odd year, the village organizes a medieval festival offering the opportunity to discover what life was like at the time.
It was elected “French favorite village” in 2015. Located on the Pink Granite Coast, Ploumanac’h is characterized by its proximity to this edge of pink rock, formed several hundred million years ago. A former fishing village, Ploumanac’h is today attached to the commune of Perros-Guirrec and has become one of its districts. Yet still considered a Breton village in its own right, it delights young and old alike who come to discover its center or its coastline and its beaches. Of exceptional beauty, the rocks that protect it from the sometimes untamable sea take on incredible colors as the sun rises or sets.
Vannes, the capital of Morbihan, is one of the most beautiful cities in Brittany. It’s very pleasant to explore its multiple facets and atmospheres. The port is very lively with its restaurants and bars. Inside the ramparts, the heart of the medieval city takes you back in time with its 272 listed buildings. Just outside the ramparts, it is very pleasant to walk in the park.
It is between Lorient and Auray, along the Rivière d’Étel, on a small island where Saint-Cado is located. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Brittany. Connected by a bridge, this small piece of land will delight your eyes with the constantly changing natural light and the landscapes with intoxicating colors. So, take the time to look into it! In addition, you will be able to observe the oyster farms whose oysters are famous. Otherwise, contemplate the numerous pleasure boats that sail along the Etel. Every year, the Tuna Festival is an event not to be missed in Saint-Cado: music, songs, refreshments, and catering highlight the glorious past of the ancient tuna port that this Breton village once was.
Bordered by the English Channel, Saint-Briac-sur-Mer is a charming fishing village in Ille-et-Vilaine, considered one of France’s most beautiful villages. Renowned for its ten beaches and its historic church, it is also home to very pleasant pedestrian paths in summer. The Painters’ Path where Auguste Renoir found inspiration in 1886 for his painting The Shepherdess, the Cow and the Sheep is certainly the most traveled. This bucolic 13 km from the first stage of the Sentier des douaniers, one of the most popular hiking trails in Brittany.
Land of knights and bards, Guerlesquin offers a journey through time in the heart of Finistère. This pretty granite village is home to an old stately prison which is the subject of many curiosities. This square building surrounded by watchtowers housed the prisoners’ dungeons on the ground floor. But to discover Guerlesquin like a true Breton, go to the Menhir Throwing World Championship in August! I promise the sky won’t fall on your head.
Prettiest Towns, Villages, and Cities to Visit in Brittany
- La Roche-Bernard
- La Gacilly