This 12-day itinerary encompasses much of the best of Brittany. It includes more hotels than I might otherwise recommend for a single vacation, but the pace is leisurely and the drives are scenic. (For an extended routing, the Sofitel Quiberon Thalassa Sea & Spa on the Quiberon Peninsula and Castel Clara on the unspoiled island of Belle-Ile-en-Mer can be combined with the Château de Locguénolé.)
Friendly Brittany has long ranked among my favorite regions in France. Its craggy coastline is breathtakingly beautiful, its seafood is some of the best in the world and the culture is unique. Many inhabitants still speak the Celtic Breton language, and on high days and holidays, women still wear their traditional long dresses adorned with lace.
May through July is the most pleasant time for a visit. August is too crowded, and some restaurants close for the season as early as the middle of September.
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Arrive in Paris in the morning. Transfer to one of my recommended hotels and refresh yourself after your international flight (a body scrub and massage do wonders for jet lag).
Take the TGV from Paris’s Gare de Montparnasse to Vannes, a journey of three hours and 15 minutes. Arrive at about 1:30 p.m.
Rent a car and drive about 30 minutes to the mysterious Alignements de Carnac, a set of enigmatic megalithic sites dating back as far as 4500 B.C.
Continue northwest another 30 minutes to the Château de Locguénolé, a hospitable mansion-hotel in magnificent wooded grounds overlooking the Blavet River.
Settle in, and then enjoy dinner at the château’s Michelin-starred restaurant.
Visit the pretty medieval town of Hennebont — have lunch at the quayside Restaurant du Blavet — or ask the château to arrange a boat excursion departing from the property’s private dock.
Alternatively, stay on the hotel grounds, enjoying strolls on woodland paths along the private waterfront, as well as relaxing beside the outdoor pool.
Depart the Château de Locguénolé and drive about 30 minutes to Quimperlé, its historic center crowned by the circular Romanesque Abbaye Sainte-Croix.
Drive another 30 minutes to Concarneau, with a walled old quarter beside the sea.
Villa Tri Men is another half-hour west. Set on the edge of the sailboat-dotted estuary of the Odet River, this handsome early-20th-century mansion is surrounded by gardens filled with sky-blue hydrangeas and century-old cedars and junipers.
Dine tonight in one of Villa Tri Men’s two restaurants, either Bistrot du Bac, a casual shoreside seafood bistro in a separate boathouse-like building, or the more gastronomically ambitious Les Trois Rochers in the main villa.
Bénodet, one of the prettiest port towns in Brittany, is just across the water from the Villa Tri Men, as is the beginning of the Bénodet’s long crescent-shaped sandy beach, one of the best in the province.
Turn north, driving 30 minutes to Locronan, a historic village of Renaissance stone houses that thrived during the 15th and 16th centuries by weaving the sailcloth needed by Breton schooners.
Explore the Presqu'île de Crozon, a peninsula of neatly tended farms and snug villages with spectacular views of the sea. Have a seafood lunch at the charming Hostellerie de la Mer, which overlooks the harbor in the village of Le Fret.
Alternatively, you can trim a day off this itinerary by continuing straight north to the next stop, Roscoff, about 90 minutes from Le Fret.
Drive up to the charming town of Roscoff and check into Le Brittany, an enchanting property that occupies a slate-roofed granite mansion in a park overlooking the sea, just on the edge of town.
Lunch in one of Roscoff’s many fine restaurants, explore the fishing port (known for its dramatic tides) and relax at Le Brittany. Perhaps indulge in a thalassotherapy treatment in the hotel’s notable spa.
Have dinner in the superb harbor-view restaurant at the hotel.
Make a day trip to the Ile de Batz, a 15-minute ferry ride from Roscoff and a great place for an easy four-hour seaside hike. A highlight of this walk is the Jardin Georges Delaselle, a lush garden of tropical plants (which improbably survive here due to the climate-tempering effect of the Gulf Stream) created between 1897 and 1937.
Overnight at Le Brittany.
Turn east, stopping first in the town of Tréguier to see the impressive cathedral of Saint-Tugdual, a 14th- and 15th-century masterpiece of Breton religious architecture with especially powerful carved wooden choir stalls.
Continue to Saint-Brieuc for lunch at Youpala Bistrot to sample the cooking of Jean-Marie Baudic. This young chef won a Michelin star for his superlative modern bistro cooking, despite the fact that his restaurant occupies a simple stone auberge in a quiet residential neighborhood.
After lunch, check in at one of three hotels: Castelbrac, a freshly renovated hotel in the grand old resort town of Dinard, from which you can make a private excursion into Saint-Malo aboard a beautiful Breton-built wooden motorboat; Le Nouveau Monde in Saint-Malo itself, overlooking a long crescent of sandy beach just outside of the old citadel; or my longtime favorite in Cancale (just east of Saint-Malo), Les Maisons de Bricourt – Château Richeux, a gothic stone mansion set on a hilltop above the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel.
Return your rental car if staying at Le Nouveau Monde.
Explore Dinard and/or Saint-Malo.
Occupying a Belle Epoque villa and former aquarium, this hotel burnishes the credentials of Dinard as one of the chicest beach towns in France.
This gothic stone mansion on a hilltop above the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is situated near the ancient walled town of Saint-Malo at the gateway to Brittany.
If you haven’t done so already, return your rental car at the train station in Saint-Malo, and take the TGV train back to Paris’ Gare de Montparnasse, a journey of about three hours.
Check in at your preferred hotel in Paris.
Take a full day to enjoy Paris, or head to the airport for your flight home.
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