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The Ultimate Brittany Road Trip Guide

Côte de Granit Rose, Brittany, France

Our guide to the best of Brittany

It may be known for its stunning coastline, but the French region of Brittany is a place of never-ending contrasts. From gently rolling countryside to high peaks in the rugged Mountains D’Arrée, there is something for everyone.


The architecture is ever-changing too. One minute you’ll be walking down narrow cobbled streets between brightly coloured, timber-framed medieval buildings, the next you’re in a coastal town filled with blue-shuttered stone houses.


With its great access from the French capital, Brittany is also a top destination if you are looking for one of the best weekend trips from Paris. In this guide we’ll offer an inside track to planning your trip to Brittany; from the best way to get there, the perfect time to visit and all those don’t-miss activities.

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Getting to Brittany

Brittany is in the far northwest corner of France just to the south of Normandy and to the north of the Pays de La Loire region. The region is 456 kilometres (283 miles) from Paris, making it popular for weekend getaways.


If you are driving to Brittany from Paris, the most direct route is via the A11 a journey of around 4hrs45min hours. This is an ideal road trip route taking in the historic Le Mans motor racing circuit, home of the FIA World Championship 24 Hours of Le Mans.


If you’re thinking of driving to Britanny from the UK via the channel port of Calais, the trip takes around 6 hours via the A29.


With a coastline of 2700kilmetres (1677 miles), taking the ferry to one of Brittany’s ports is a great option. There are ferry crossings in the UK from Portsmouth to St Malo and from Plymouth to Roscoff. If you are travelling as a foot passenger to either port, you can easily hire a car from St Malo.


Catching the train to Brittany is also simple, quick, and fun. If you are taking the Eurostar from London or Bruges or heading across by train from Germany, you’ll arrive at either Paris Gare du Nord or Gare de l’Est stations. From there it’s a quick hop across to Paris Montparnasse where there are good services via TGV to Rennes and Nantes. You can be in Rennes in as little as 1hr25min and reach Nantes in under two hours. There are Avis teams ready to help you with car rental for your Brittany road trip in both Rennes and Nantes.


Wondering if there are airports near Britanny, France? The answer is yes, with a choice of two routes for international travelers. There are flights and handy on site Avis car rental locations both at Rennes Airport and Nantes Atlantique Airport.

What is the weather like in Brittany?

Although a lot like the rest of Northern Europe and the UK, the weather in Brittany can be mild, but pleasant. In fact, it’s very much like the climate in the balmy Channel Islands, where there is a little more sunshine in summer than in the rest of the UK when it’s an average of around 2 degrees warmer. In winter the weather in Brittany is milder too with far fewer days of ice and snow.

When is the best time to visit?

The best time to visit Brittany for a road trip is between April and September. Temperatures in the summer months can rise significantly up into the mid-30s, but you will find there are regional variations. The west of Brittany around Finistère will generally be cooler than the more sheltered Gulf of Morbihan which tends to have longer hours of sunshine and warmer weather.

Things to do in Brittany

One of the attractions of Brittany is a packed calendar of festivals with something for everyone. Favourites include the Festival du Chant de Marin (Sea Shanty Festival) which takes place in August in the small port of Paimpol in the Côtes d’Armor department. This has a global audience and attracts 130,000 visitors to enjoy the traditional boats and music. In the same month, is one of the best world music festivals in France, the Festival du Bout du Monde (Land’s End Festival). Meanwhile, every September, Paimpol, hosts its Oyster Festival including demonstrations, competitions and of course tastings.


Here's our pick of 5 more things to do in Brittany, any time of year...


Go to a market

French outdoor markets are famous the world over and those in Brittany are no exception. A morning wondering round sampling the local produce is not to be missed. Get up early, beat the crowds and have your selection of the best sumptuous fare on offer!


Enjoy the regional delicacies

Crêpes – or pancakes – are the regional dish of Brittany. Whether you’re in a crêpe restaurant or enjoying a takeaway – these soft, freshly cooked pancakes are always delicious. The only difficulty? Choosing your topping. Warm fruit syrup and salted caramel are two of the most popular (and addictive) options.


Cross Mont-St-Michel Bay

Mont-Saint-Michel is a UNESCO’s World Heritage site on the Brittany-Normandy border - a must-do on your road trip. Guided walks to the island are available – the tide can come in fast so consult an expert beforehand. There are also opportunities for horse riding on the sand and even cycling as the European Tour de Manche cycling route connects Mont-Saint-Michel with Saint-Malo.


Island hopping

Just off the coast near Quiberon, you’ll find the largest of Brittany’s islands Belle-Île-en-Mer - the Queen of the Seas - which lives up to its name. With crystal clear deep blue water, small sandy coves, and pretty cottages, this really is paradise. There are cycling routes and a bus service around the island giving good access for day trips.


Watch bottle-nosed dolphins

The waters off Brittany are home to Europe’s largest colony of bottle-nosed dolphins. These amazing mammals can cover up to 100km in a day. There are trips out to sea from Mont-Saint-Michel to go dolphin watching and you might also be lucky enough to catch sight of some common dolphins, porpoises and even whales.

Exploring the Brittany region

How many days do you need for a Brittany road trip?

There is so much to do in this region that a driving tour of Brittany could easily be done over a relaxing two-week break or a whistle-stop long weekend. If you are staying for a short time, we’d advise focusing on one department and enjoying the best that has to offer, while longer trips give you the chance to explore further afield. A longer stay is also perfect for all ages with so many activities for families in Brittany – from days at the beach to cycling, hiking, boat trips, parks, zoos, and farms.


The best Brittany driving itinerary

Our experts have designed the perfect Brittany driving itinerary covering all the key locations and sights in a stunning 767km circular round trip from the port of St Malo.



Vannes, Brittany, France

St-Malo to Cancale: 19.5km – 40min

Leaving your base in the port town of St Malo, head along the D201 coastal road which hugs the water’s edge. The route takes you through the dunes around the stunning Plage du Guesclin. This section has plenty of parking and paths to the beach – a deserted stretch of the softest pale cream sand and the ideal stop for a dip.


Back on the road, you’ll drive through the small town of Cancale to head down to Port Cancale and its famous oyster market. Oyster farming in the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is part of the cultural heritage of the region. During the summer months, you’ll get the chance to meet the producers at the market, pick a selection of oysters and enjoy them while sitting on the sea wall overlooking the bay.

Driving route

Driving route

Cancale to Mont Saint-Michel: 44.7km - 57min

This leg of the trip continues along the coastline to one of the most iconic landmarks in Europe. Head from Cancale on the D76 until you reach Pontorson and take the D776 to Mont Saint-Michel.


This tiny 7-hectare (17 acre) island is a must-see spectacle on a Brittany road trip. The outline of Benedictine Abbey on top of the mount can be seen for miles. It is surrounded by a maze of narrow village streets lined with cafes, gift shops, restaurants, and hotels. You can’t drive onto the island but there is a car park within 800metres of the shore. Alternatively, you can park on the mainland (a mile away) and take a shuttle bus across. Walking is an option too but be wary of the tide times and take advice from the local guides before you set off. The island is busy during the summer, but the Abbey is open until 7pm from 1 May to 31 August. We recommend arriving in the late afternoon for an island tour and dinner in one of its restaurants to truly soak up the atmosphere of this unique setting.

Mont Saint-Michel to Rennes 67.5km – 1hr 6min

You’ll turn inland for the next section of this Brittany road trip taking the D175 on a relaxing drive through the Britttany countryside. Rennes is the capital city of Brittany and it’s worth stopping off to spend time exploring its medieval centre with its half-timbered houses and awe-inspiring, cavernous cathedral.

Driving route

Driving route

Rennes to Vannes 128km – 1hr 38min

Your journey around Brittany takes you south across open country into the Department of Morbihan and the sunshine coast around the stunning Gulf of Morbihan. Vannes, the capital of Morbihan, is a fortified medieval town with a central, scenic ‘old town’ and pretty harbour and marina.

Vannes to Pont-Aven 146km – 3hr 11min

The next section of our route takes you from Vannes to Pont-Aven travelling via the D781 to enjoy some of the most scenic parts of the coastline. Take time to linger with recommended stop-offs in Port de Goustan, Carnac and Cote Sauvage before making your way to Pont Aven in the Department of Finistère.

Driving route

Driving route

Pont-Aven to Brest 110km – 1hr 37min

We’d recommend dipping off the E60 motorway to spend time in the walled city of Concarneau as well as Quimper with its medieval timber-framed houses, impressive Gothic cathedral, and art galleries.


Rejoin the motorway and enjoy the drive through the Regional Natural Parc D’Amorique, a 112,000-hectare (450,000 acre) natural park with its four distinct regions: the Iroise Sea islands; the Crozon Peninsula between Brest in the north and Douarnenez in the south; and the rugged Monts d’Arrée.

Brest to Ploumanac’h via Roscoff: 143km – 2hr 24min

Leaving Brest, you’ll now be on the return journey towards St Malo stopping off in Roscoff and reaching Ploumanac’h. The area is famous for the pink granite rock and sands of the Côte de Granit Rose.

Driving route

Driving route

Ploumanac'h to Dinard and St Malo: 171km – 2hr 21min

This final leg of our epic road trip takes you to the fabulous Emerald Coast with its Victorian resort town of Dinard. The route ends in style taking in the Rance Barrage bridge - the world's first tidal power station and the world's second biggest tidal power station - on your return into St Malo.

Renting a car in Brittany

With a modern road network and a population that is less dense than many other European countries, a road trip across France is a chance to drive over relatively empty roads. However, if you are driving in Brittany and France for the first time, there are a few things you should be aware of. Aside from the obvious – you’ll be driving on the right-hand side of the road, be aware that carrying florescent vests for everyone in the car is mandatory in case of a roadside breakdown. You must also carry a warning triangle and set of spare headlamp bulbs so that these can be replaced immediately if needed. For more information and the latest advice on driving in France, check out our guide to the France road rules you need to know.

Beyond Brittany

So that’s our guide to the best road trip of Brittany with just a taste of what this region has to offer. If this has inspired you to plan a road trip to France, why not join our experts on other great drives as they journey through France and take in the Bordeaux coast, wind through the Loire Valley, explore the Paris region, find some incredible secret swimming spots and seek out the loveliest villages.


Wherever your travels take you, our Avis team in France have the keys ready to help you enjoy the freedom of the road and get the very most out of your stay.