What to see in Southern Brittany
So much to visit, you are spoilt for choice!
So much to visit, you are spoilt for choice!
Vannes is the capital of Morbihan and ancient capital of Brittany. It is a joy to behold. The medieval heart of the town has almost 200 timber-framed building and gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan.
Pontivy, originally named after a monk called Ivy from Northumberland in England, was renamed Napoleonville when Napoleon made it the strategic centre of Brittany and built extensively on the medieval centre. For one of the best examples of medieval architecture, don’t miss 15th Century Château Rohan.
Hennebont, home to the National Stud, has magnificent ramparts and floral displays with one of the best markets in the area on a Thursday.
Auray is not to be missed with a lively market in the high town on Mondays and delightful 15th century half-timbered houses, many of these fine restaurants, clustered around the old quay. It is an artist lovers’ paradise with many galleries lining the road down to the port which bustles on a Sunday afternoon when the French take an amble down the river to walk off Sunday lunch.
And not to be missed is Concarneau with its 14th Century Ville Close (Walled Town) situated in the middle of the harbour.
Josselin Castle is well worth a visit, one of the few remaining Breton castles still owned by one of the old ruling families.
Lorient was heavily bombed in World War II destroying much of this once beautiful town. More fortunately than most, the city has been redeveloped with some attractive modernist architecture clustered around the yacht basin, which makes it a pleasure to visit, especially during the Lorient Inter-Celtique festival.
The department of Morbihan in France is a treasure trove for its megalithic structures erected around 5000BC. Keep a look out wherever you are and you will see them: a menhir (single standing stone by itself or in an alignment); cromlechs (menhirs in a circle); dolmen (stones topped by others) and tumulus (tomb covered with stone or earth and normally incorporating dolmen).
No trip to this region is complete without a visit to the World Heritage Site of Carnac with its 3000 standing stones arranged in alignments.
Equally unmissable (and less crowded) are the 1000 standing stones at Erdeven.
The Grand Menhir site at Locmariquer complex hosts the largest menhir ever erected (the weight of a Boeing 747!)
Catch a boat to the island of Gavrinis to see what is arguably one of the most amazing megalithic monuments
Take a step back in time with some beautifully restored Breton villages to demonstrate life and culture of that time:
The charming 16th century village of Poul Fetan, has been immaculately restored to show life at that time with demonstrations in the summer holidays. There is a delightful inn specialising in organic, traditional fare. Many of our guests take the opportunity to walk from Le Crann to Poul Fetan, one of the major tourist attractions in the area.
If you want to step even further back in time, 15 minutes away near Melrand is the Village de l’an Mil, a 1000 year old reconstructed village.
About 30 minutes away is Forges des Salles, an 18th Century iron working village near Lac de Guerlédan
St-Dégan near Auray gives a flavour of a traditional Breton farm
Brittany is dotted with inspiring churches and quaint chapels with their own unique architectural features. There are some really noteworthy churches amongst them.
Ste-Anne-d’Auray the second greatest pilgrimage shrine after Lourdes in France
Not to be missed is the Arts in the Chapels exhibition which takes place in our Blavet Valley region between July and September – an amazing opportunity to see the spectacular Breton countryside and architecture of seldom open chapels.
15th century church at Kernascléden is only 1 of 7 churches in France with frescos of the "Danse Macabre"
One wonders how such a small hamlet in the middle of the countryside built such a magnificent chapel. In summer every Thursday afternoon there are classical music and tours.
Brittany is proud of its Celtic heritage and east of Josselin is Paimpont Forest, centre of the legend of King Arthur in Brittany. Paimpont Forest, once part of the super-forest of Broceliande, is where Merlin was supposed to have once lived and died. Find Merlin’s tomb and Morgan’s “valley of no return”. The Château de Comper has various shows and talks in the summer months.
Brittany has played a significant role in both World Wars with several interesting sites.
Lorient was home to the premier submarine base of World War II, which unfortunately meant 90% of the city was destroyed in the bombing, but not the submarine base! The German garrison surrendered here on the 10 May 1945, two days after the formal German surrender in Berlin. The museum provides an interesting insight as well as a tour of the submarine "Flore".
Closer to home is the little chapel of Notre-Dame du Cloitre in Quistinic which was an infirmary for the Breton resistance in WW II. Do spend the time to discover this modest chapel hidden in the woods as homage to the brave resistance fighters who died here.
The Breton Resistance Museum can be found near Malestroit.
Musée les Sanglots Longs at Réguiny is dedicated to the history of the Breton resistance and development of the radio.
This large zoo has some interesting animals and displays with seals, snakes, parrots and seabirds with special events in the holidays.
Everyone loves an aquarium and next door is the butterfly garden.
The National Stud dedicated to pure bred Breton horses is based in nearby Hennebont. In summer there are daytime shows and evening spectaculars as well as free horse riding events in the park.
With little ones it is always important to have an abundance of animal attractions. As you can see from a glimpse of our Information Pack, there are also:
- numerous animal parks and farms
- bat museum
- insect museum,
- butterfly farm
- ostrich farm
- salmon museum
If you have the time, a boat trip is a must! We have details of all the boat trips available and can give assistance in how to fit a boat trip into a day out. Here is a few suggestions:
There are an amazing range of museums in the area, something for all tastes and some so fascinating they must not to be missed:
One of our absolute favourites! An amazing universe of moving objects from scrap metal. Perfect for both adults and children.
This modern design sailing museum has many interactive displays plus the chance for a real sailing experience.
This old metal working factory is now a museum dedicated to metallurgists.
From ecomuseums covering the ancient crafts, several ancient working villages and farms, to museums to bats, electricity, postcards, weaving, natural history, history museums, naval museums, dolls, underwater diving, salmon and tuna fishermen.
During summer, there are four driving routes to follow, with contemporary art displayed in some of the amazing chapels of the Blavet Valley. A wonderful way to explore both the stunning countryside and local chapels, most of which are seldom open to the public.
A centre for professional artisans covering pottery, ironwork, mosaics, painting, quilting, glasswork, woodwork, sculptures, tapestry. The shop in "La Cour" shows artist work throughout the year and in summer the "L’Art Chemin Faisant" is a contemporary art trail in the village.
This picturesque town famous for Gaugin and the Pont-Aven school of painters abounds with art galleries and an Art Museum. Close by the movement spread to Le Pouldu where you can find the Maison Musée.
Beautiful Auray has some wonderful artists galleries amongst a medieval backdrop. In summer, there is the "Détour d’Art" with 20 chapels to explore. Every Saturday in summer there is a rendez-vous of painters opposite the church.