Old Jul 9th, 2002, 03:45 PM
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As usual there is not enough time to do everything. Usually we like to just wing it, but this trip is peak season and we need to book ahead. We wil be spending most time in rural Brittany, but are intersted in visiting some or all of the above. They all sound good in the guidebooks. But, I've been disappointed and underwhelmed before, just as I have been disappointed at not allocating enough time for a place that really called to us. We are kind of churched and cathedraled out, and are really looking more for local color, ambience, and interesting walks around town (or some really unique thingsd to see). Where should I visit, and how much time realistically would I need to visit each place to get a good feel for it? If you've visited all 3, I'd appreciate rankings too. And, any suggestions for inexpensive lodgings. Thanks.
Old Jul 9th, 2002, 03:52 PM
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I've been to Vannes (twice)and Quimper (once). Both are well worth a visit, both are great for general ambiance, walking around, eating at sidewalk cafes. If you are interested in buying the famous Quimper faience (pottery), definitely go there. Otherwise, I recommend Vannes. Can't help with lodgings, but I'm certain you will enjoy Vannes, assuming you will have seen enough 12th century ruins to last you for a while.
Old Jul 9th, 2002, 05:16 PM
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I haven't been to Nantes (driven around it a couple of times, but didn't stop), but have been to Vannes and Quimper and enjoyed both immensely. My impression is that Nantes is a much bigger city than either Quimper or Nantes. Quimper is an enjoyable town with a good musée des beaux arts and an interesting museum devoted to the Breton culture. And of course there is faïence everywhere. Good walking town with lots of cafés and restaurants serving traditional Breton dishes. We liked Vannes even better, with its lovely medieval quarter and market squares, portside restaurants serving incredible seafood, and hearty maritime culture. Can't help you with lodgings as we were renting a house in the area.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 12:12 AM
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I haven't been to any, except we stayed just outside Quimper last year and regularly visited the Leclerc on the outskirts.

I had the impression that it wasn't the most exciting place in the world. On the other hand, I loved Concarneau.

I hope to make it to Vannes about the same time as you are there.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 01:46 PM
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I have visited all three places,and stayed in Quimper(3 nights),Nantes(1 night),All of them have interesting old quarters(I think Vannes has the best one),lovely walks; but Nantes being an university town and one of Atlantic major cities,it is much bigger.

In Quimper and Vannes,I really enjoyed the weekly markets.If you like music,the cathedral in Quimper offers good concerts sometime.There are several good and not expensive restaurants in Quimper .

For something really unique to do,I would go to Carnac(near Vannes)for the megalithic site or Pont Aven(near Quimper) for the art galleries and riverside view. Both towns offer very nice walks nearby too.

I stayed at Hotel De L'Ouest(02 08 90 28 35)near Quimper train station, Hotel St.Deniel(02 40 47 41 25)right at the old town of Nantes. Both were basic but clean,less than US $30 per night in 2001.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 01:55 PM
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I have been to all three and prior responses are correct, Nantes is a much bigger town. We used Vannes as a base and were able to comfortably visit much of the surrounding area - even Pointe du Raz (not to be missed IMO) and Quimper. We found Vannes to be a delightful place - attractive, bustling, many shops and restaurants, etc One place that we visited while travelling between Vannes and Nantes was Guerande (spelling may be wrong). This is a small town, a little out of the way but had an interesting and well preseneted local museum in the remnants of the town wall.
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 05:58 PM
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Thanks everyone. I was wondering about Nantes in particular since we will be flying out of there and have been trying to decide if it is worth it to try to plan some time in the city or whether we should just head for the airport. We flew out of Perpignan earlier this year and arrived early enough to walk around for 2 hours or so which was more than enough time; we were disappointed by the town. That is why I was wondering about Nantes. Accomodation is my next big hurdle. Several places I have tried have been full. Thanks for the hotel suggestions and the note that I can pretty much base myself in Vannes or Quimper and still visit most of the area. Am I interpreting the responses correctly to say that Vannes would probably be a 1st choice over Quimper?
Old Jul 10th, 2002, 06:02 PM
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<<Am I interpreting the responses correctly to say that Vannes would probably be a 1st choice over Quimper?>>

I would choose Vannes over Quimper, yes.
Old Jul 11th, 2002, 01:34 PM
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I was born and raised in Quimper and lived there for more than 18 years, therefore I would obviously say I prefer Quimper over Vannes!
Both are obviously very charming... When do you plan on going? On July 20th, the "Festival de Cornouaille" starts in Quimper, which is a must (www.festival-cornouaille.com), and 15 minutes fron Quimper, in Douarnenez, another fabulous festival "Douarnenez 2002" (www.douarnenez-2002.com/ ).

From 2-11 August, Lorient (another town half distance between Quimper and Vannes) will host "Le festival interceltique", another big hit in Brittany in the summer. (www.festival-interceltique.com)

Anyways, for more information on both cities, check the following sites:

http://www.morbihan.com/tourismeeng/eng.htm (morbihan is the "departement" - like a county- where Vannes is located).

http://www.finisteretourisme.com/en/default.html (Finistere is the "departement" - like a county- where Vannes is located).

another helpful site for lodging:

also, check this great web site which presents four main towns in Brittany, Quimper, Vannes, Saint-Malo, Saint Brieuc:

I hope this helps, and that you get a chance to dicosver a very special region of France (I now live on Cape Cod, Mass in the U.S, and it reminds me so much of Brittany!).
Kenavo! (that's goodbye in Breton language!)

Old Jul 11th, 2002, 01:53 PM
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Loved Brittany but weather can be iffy; lots of rain and cool. Are you driving there? If so, why not try the northern coast (Emerald) including Dinan and St. Malo first. Used Dinan as a base for touring the north coast and interior; its a medieval town, full of restaurants, stores, but very quaint. St. Malo is larger, right on the coast, and very interesting. Driving along the coast is great. You're not far from Mont St. Michel and loads of lovely fishing villages along the coast.Loved the Bretonne Corniche again filled with fishing villages.Visited church calvaries and then drove to Raz point. What a walk to the w. tip of France. Visited Quimper, but stayed outside of both in a quaint inn. Relais du Silence. Was at the festival in Concarneau and it was terrific fun. Prehistoric megaliths in area, too. Ended journey in Nantes. Did visit Vannes too. Enjoy the scenery, great eating
Old Jul 12th, 2002, 06:07 AM
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Great responses from everyone with great input. We are purposely by-passing the Mont St Michel/St. Malo area because we will be there the worst time of year possible for crowds(the 1st week in August). To clarify, we will first be spending a week in rural Normandy in a cottage in the Pays d'Auge. Then we will be driving to the Morlaix area where we will spend 3 nights and plan to see the area by biking. I think we are then going to spend a day driving down the far western coastal areas on our way to the south and spend one night in Loctudy (comments please on this if you've been here) in the Bigouden area. It's the end of the trip after that that I am working on arranging and it is driving me nuts. Normally we really prefer to just wing it, but I know I can't do that on this trip because so many people will be on vacation because finding rooms will be a nightmare. Also, I'm really torn between trying to get off the beaten path as much as possible to avoid crowds and yet wanting to see the best of the area. I have 2 further complicating factors--we have decided to visit the Festival Interceltique in Lorient for a day which rather limits where we can locate ourselves because we want to use public transporation into Lorient rather than hassling a car, and my husband and I decided that this trip we are going to really slow down and take a different approach to visiting a locale. We will have a car, but for the most part we are planning on renting bikes and using the bikes as a way to intimately see more of the country rather than quickly driving from spot to spot.

Pauline--the websites are a great help! Since you are a native, please give me a little feedback on the biking part of my trip so far as the Quimper/Vannes or other area decision (I'm also thinking of locating north more towards Pontivy). We're looking for an area where we can bike through pleasant scenery and stop at charming villages (not tourist resorts) for a glass of wine or a snack. But, since it will be peak tourist season, I'm a little apprehensive about the crush of people and cars. I've read that there is a lovely area north of Vannes. What's the countryside like around Quimper? And, if we want to bike would we be nuts to locate ourselves in central Quimper and then fight traffic to get out of the city on bikes?

Thanks much to all!
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