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Southern Brittany (Atlantic coast) itinerary help

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Nov 5th, 2018, 05:31 PM
  #1
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Southern Brittany (Atlantic coast) itinerary help

Hi all,

Planning on being in southern Brittany for approximately 9 days in July 2019. Having trouble figuring out what itinerary makes the most sense. We don't want to move around too much since we are travelling with our tweens and like to have a bit of a homebase. Our interests are seeing quaint villages, coastal drives, beaches, hiking, historical sites and eating seafood and eating more seafood.

We will be flying into Nantes and plan to spend two days there - namely because we have family living there. Seems like there will be more than enough to keep us busy in Nantes for a few days (Chateau des Ducs de Brittany, Les machines). From there we have 7 nights notionally as follows:
- 5 nights in Vannes (our "home base" to see sights around the Golfe de Morbihan, Carnac stones, Pont Aven, Guerande, St Nazaire sub base, etc)
- 2 nights in Ile-de-Re (beaches, cycling, seeing La Rochelle, eating oysters!)

Is this a good plan? Unfortunately, it means backtracking passing Nantes to drive from Vannes to Ile-de-Re. Any can't miss sights I have missed? Foret de Broceliande worth it?

Merci a l'avance!
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Nov 5th, 2018, 05:53 PM
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Nov 5th, 2018, 07:57 PM
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Starting with Locronan, this album covers mainly the southern coast of Brittany: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjrz9U32
I also wrote a couple trip reports, onew hich starts in Ghent but includes Brittany as far as Quimper and another one which covers our travels in western Brittany,; click on my name to find them.
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Nov 5th, 2018, 08:03 PM
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Jacolis, I am also hoping to visit Brittany in 2019 and received a lot of useful input around my planning thread here Visiting Brittany , in case you missed it.
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Nov 5th, 2018, 08:12 PM
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FWIW, I personally wouldn't skip the northern coast of Brittany, including the Côte de Granit Rose, or the calvary closes of inland Brittany, just to drive all the way to the Ile de Rey and La Rochelle -- and of course, neither Ile de Rey nor La Rochelle are in Brittany. YMMV!

Last edited by kja; Nov 5th, 2018 at 08:34 PM.
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Nov 5th, 2018, 08:56 PM
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We spent a month in Southern Brittany this year. We stayed in two gites - one close to Vannes and another close to Concarneau. Two weeks in each. We've also spent 2 weeks in a gite close to Dinan and another 2 weeks close to the "Pink Rocks" area.


I developed a 20 page itinerary for Normandy & Brittany that describes our favorite villages, scenic drives, markets, restaurants, ports, etc. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach it to the reply e-mail. I've sent my many France itineraries to over 6,000 people on Fodors. Do so soon - we're leaving for Christmas in London in a few weeks.


Stu Dudley
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Nov 5th, 2018, 09:17 PM
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We've also spent 2 weeks on the Ile de Re in a gite in La Flotte. But I don't have anything written up for this region - yet. Friends pretty much follow us around in France 1-2 years later in the same gites we've stayed in - and I usually write up "things to do & see" for them. That's how my many itineraries has gotten started. Next August/Sept, they are staying 2 weeks in the same gite we stayed in on the Ile de Re followed by 2 weeks in our Vannes Gite. So I'll write up something for them for the Ile de Re (already plenty of stuff written for Vannes). Contact me in August for Ile de Re info. We'll be in Alsace & Burgundy from late Aug through Sept - so contact me before then. [email protected]

Stu Dudley
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Nov 6th, 2018, 12:26 AM
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The area around Vannes and the gulf of Morbihan is a good area to choose for your base if you want to concentrate on the south coast of Brittany. On your way from Morbihan to Ile de Ré, you could stop in Guérande and/or St Nazaire. It means you could enjoy your time in Brittany to visit further west, and then a base slightly west from Vannes is more convenient (still avoiding Quiberon and traffic jams in summer).
Since you enjoy seafood, you should allow for some time around Riec sur Belon or Locmariaquer to taste oysters. The forest of Broceliande is worth seeing, but it is not really on your way if do not consider visiting the north coast of Brittany (on the way to Dinan, St Malo or Rennes). Or you may combine it with Josselin (Itineraries in Brittany).
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Nov 6th, 2018, 04:55 AM
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Thanks for the feedback, all.

Stu: I will email you for your itineraries.

I should add that I picked Vannes and south because we are then moving on to Bordeaux to visit with other family and continuing on to the Basque country for our last week in France. So, I thought we would not have enough time to visit the Channel coast and then drive to Bordeaux and further parts south. We have been to Normandy on a previous trip but only went as far west as the D-day beaches. St-Malo and the granite coast looked beautiful but I didn't want to jam too much in.

Is Vannes and surroundings not as nice as the granite coast such that we should do the longer drive? (i.e., concentrate on northwestern Brittany but then do the 6.5 hour drive to Bordeaux)?

Nantes and Ile-de-Re are fixed as we will be visiting with family for that portion.

Merci encore!
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Nov 6th, 2018, 05:01 AM
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Vannes is one of my very favorite towns in Brittany. I think your plan is a good one. I haven't visited the Granite Coast for many years, so wouldn't be confident in comparing it to southern Brittany.

I am very fond of La Rochelle, and always enjoy a couple of days on the Ile de Ré. It makes perfect sense to stop there on your way south.
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Nov 6th, 2018, 07:02 AM
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I will send you my Pays Basque itinerary also.



The Pink Rocks are quite nice - perhaps better than anything you'll find on the Southern Coast. But Vannes is spectacular and we enjoyed the region just as much as the Pink Rocks area.



Stu Dudley
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Nov 6th, 2018, 11:39 AM
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Btw there is a great nautical zoo (aquarium in Frenc) in Vannes. COmplete with a crocodile that was found in the sewers of Paris. your tweens (what is a tween ? a crossover between a teen and ? ) may like it.
Aquarium de Vannes, sortie & découverte dans le Morbihan
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Nov 6th, 2018, 02:09 PM
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La Rochelle is awesome - fortified town and Ile de Re coastal paths too. Yes not in Brittany but who cares? You'll love them. Your plan looks sweet!
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Nov 6th, 2018, 02:41 PM
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Excellent. Thanks all!

Thibaut: A "tween" is short for "tweenager" and it describes an age group that is "in-between" child and teenager (generally around 10-12). Maybe it's a North American expression only!?

The aquarium sounds good. My husband is interested in the St Nazaire submarine museum (Espadon). Is that recommended? And if you had to choose one castle between Josselin and Chateau des Ducs de Brittany? My kids told me they were a bit "castled out" after our last family trip which included the Loire Valley chateaux. By contrast they LOVED the castles we saw in the Dordogne but maybe because the museum of medieval warfare and bird of prey shows were great! (And advice on this forum from Stu and St. Cirq in particular made Dordogne my kids' favourite place in France!)

Any recommendations for a particular market day? Sadly I think we will not be in Vannes on a Saturday so I am hoping to catch another one....

MERCI!
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Nov 6th, 2018, 03:24 PM
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Vannes has a Wednesday market also.


The Josselin Chateau is an "A-" on the outside (especially when viewed from the bridge next to the river below the chateau) and a B- on the inside. I think the owners still live there - so you don't get to go upstairs. I'm staring at the brochure we obtained when we took the tour this June, and there are only 3 rooms that you can go into - the dining room, antechamber, main drawing room, and the library. There are only afternoon tours - so timing is important.



The Chateau in Nantes is a B on the outside and not really a chateau "interior" on the inside. I believe the inside is a museum focusing on the the history of Nantes and the slave trade - at least that's what it was about 10 years ago when we were there.


We are chateau "junkies". There is a chateau south of Vannes that you can visit. See my itinerary for details. But if you're only going to be in Vannes for 4 nights or less - it is perhaps not worth the drive.



Stu Dudley
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Nov 6th, 2018, 03:41 PM
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Between Il de Re & Bordeaux, visit Rochefort. Don't miss a visit to the Hermione French Navy frigate. It is a recently-built replica of General Lafayette's frigate that he sailed to the US to help us out in our revolutionary war. You can walk through the ship. The town itself is a real "sleeper" - we really enjoyed Rochefort. There is also an interesting museum called "the Museum of Commerce of the Past" which recreates in meticulous detail, stores and workshops dating from 1900 to 1940. Rochefort also has a very nice "non-touristy" outdoor market and an interior "les Halles" one also.


Here is my wife's Shutterfly book from our trip to the Poitiers region, Ile de Re, and the Loire chateau area.
https://stududley.shutterfly.com/24
Because of Shutterfly "enhaancements", captions & titles are often missing or truncated.


Stu Dudley
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Nov 8th, 2018, 05:23 PM
  #17
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Thanks all! Have noted all the sights to see in and around Vannes. We will plan to stop in Rochefort as well - DH Is very interested in the frigate!
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Nov 9th, 2018, 01:39 AM
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The Saturday market in La Rochelle was wonderful. Nearly all food, if you are after clothes or other things there were only a few stalls. Fresh food was inside a market hall and also the surrounding streets. It was lively and very picturesque. Clean, modern public toilets (50 euro cents I think) are also at the market hall.

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