Brittany is an historic and cultural region of France with a beautiful coastline, grand castles plus many areas of natural beauty to see. So, where are the best towns in Brittany with plenty for the traveller to see and do? Here we take alook at some of the best plus what they have to offer.
St Malo is steeped in history delighting those of us who are enthusiaists of the past. Built in the middle ages it is a fortified island situated at the mouth of the Rance Estuary. St Malo has a chequered history involving pirates with King of the Privateers Robert Surcouf making St Malo his home way back in 1773.
Today St Malo is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Brittany, while this once ancient walled town is now a vibrant exciting tourist place full of character and has many attractions for old and young alike. Beautiful beaches, restaurants, shops, along with an aquarium and an amazing cathedral make St Malo and one of the most amazing places to see in Brittany.
Recognised for its art, history and natural beauty Rennes sits elevated between two rivers therefore has amazing views for visitors to enjoy. Rennes, the capital of Brittany has many historical buildings of interest including the Parliament of Brittany, Basilica Saint Sauveur and the Palais de Justice, while its unique houses constructed from half timber are a real sight to see.
The south side of the city is very lively and busy having superb shops including the modern Colombier Centre, cafes and bars where visitors can shop till they drop or sit and watch the world go by in a lovely atmosphere. Rennes has plenty to see especially for the visitor who loves to drink in an historical atmosphere.
The Thabor Gardens are another amazing feature in Rennes that cover one hundred thousand square meters and were designed by Denis Buhler in the nineteenth century. Built on the orchard of one of the oldest abbeys in Rennes Thabor Gardens has a French style garden, an exotic garden, a rose garden, fountains, an aviary, statues and a bandstand. This splendid example of nineteenth century design is well worth seeing!
Brest is the home of the French Atlantic Fleet and is located in a superb natural harbour that is sheltered by Lyon to one side and the Crozon Peninsula to the other. Destroyed by bombing during the Second World War due to its location Brest has risen from the ashes to become one of the most popular destinations of visitors to Brittany.
Brest has a fifteenth century castle that has part of the collection of the National Maritime Museum on display. More up to date attractions in Brest include Oceanopolis that houses three magnificent aquariums and an amazing 3D cinema. Each aquarium focuses on a different topic. Aquarium one in the white dome on the fishing industry, two is the tropical aquarium with sharks and fish whose habitat is the coral reef, while the third aquarium has penguins and polar bears.
Every four years the people of Brest host a maritime festival that is the largest in Europe featuring over fifteen hundred yachts, warships and boats from all ages. The festival is very colourful and provides food drink and attractions of a multi-national kind for all visitors to enjoy.
Dinan is steeped in culture and history plus is one of the few walled towns in Brittany. There is certainly plenty for history boffins to see here, while its three kilometre long walls are totally intact being undamaged by the ravages of time encircling row after row of medieval houses and buildings that are also very well preserved. Visitors can spend hours walking the cobbled streets visiting art galleries and craft shops popular in this historic town.
Even though the walls are intact they are not walkable all the way round which is a pity but for those of us who wish to amble round the part of the wall that is accessible views over the river are superb. Another great attraction is Saint Sauveur church that is a mixture of designs throughout history such as its eighteenth century steeple or its gothic chapels.
Those of us who feel energetic can climb the one hundred and fifty eight steps reaching the top of the Tour de l'Horloge to experience the breathtaking views over Dinan from this one hundred and thirty two feet high structure. The Port of Dinan is another lovely area that is both picturesque interesting and well preserved, where visitors can sit and while the time away at one of the riverside cafes or take a walk over the old stone bridge.