Exploring southern Brittany

By Myra Martin, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on La Roche-Bernard.

Overall rating:4.4 out of 5 (based on 5 votes)
Enjoyable
4.6
4.6
Useful
4.4
4.4
Inspirational
4.2
4.2
Recommended for:
Activity, Cultural, Food and Drink, Budget, Expensive, Mid-range

Castles and art, boats and golf, southern Brittany has it all!

Take your campervan, your tent or your car to southern Brittany. Find La Roche Bernard, and you've found a little gem. Sop up the atmosphere;  sup a little wine - Bon appetit!

Your first sighting will be from the bridge: boats, hundreds of them, glistening on the water of the River Vilaine. Find Camping le Patis, Tel: 0033 (0)2 99 90 60 13, right alongside the river path, and settle down. The manager, Dominic, is a friendly Irish / Frenchman, who speaks English with an accent that will knock your socks off,  and the facilities are good, and clean. There are supermarkets within easy reach.

A short walk along the riverbank and you can relax outside your choice of cafe - overlooking the water of course!  Have a glass of wine and a snack at the Douanerie bar,  order pasta and pizza at Borsalino's, or galettes or moules-frites from Le Petit Marin. Or walk a little further, towards seemingly impenetrable rocks, and they open up to reveal the Old Port. Here you will see more boats - traditional ones - and stone buildings to die for. An old theatre dedicated to Sarah Bernhardt, and still with the original pew seats, is now the shabby-chic Le Sara B bistro with live music at weekends. Le Sara B has that certain something, a touch of class, and offers good home cooking at reasonable prices.  Nearby, Bar Le Yackham's is the haunt of the younger more boisterous set. 

If it's cosier accommodation you're after, then it's up the hill to the old town, to the cobbled square of Place du Bouffay. The inn Auberge des Deux Magots Tel: (0)2 99 90 60 75 is not, be assured, to do with creepy crawlies, but with two famous monkeys of an earlier time. Almost next door, with a big balcony overlooking the square, is a comfortable b&b Les ArtisansTel: 0033 (0)2 99 90 75 53   The owners, who are French and English, are on hand to make you feel at ease.  We've billeted friends with Les Artisans, always with good reports. Le Manoir du Rodoir Tel: 0033 (0)2 99 90 82 68, is a 19th century manor house, almost completely covered in ivy, and set in a century old oak tree park.  It's outdoor heated swimming pool makes for a completely relaxing break, and it is just a short walk from the town.

When you're ready to explore further, make for Rochefort en Terre; your camera will be working overtime! It's a medieval town, has kept its character, and makes the most of it's flower displays in summer.  'Chocolate box' best describes it, but admire the 16th and 17th century residences, detailed carvings on old oak doors and the swinging signs from a by- gone age.  Now dedicated to loosening your purse strings in the nicest possible way, Rochefort is stuffed with potteries, art galleries and up-market souvenirs. Wait at the pie shop, where a tall-hatted chef will be tending the ovens, and then browse the confectionary emporium...... that's lunch sorted! 

The present  'chateau' is  the 17th century outbuildings of the original, turned into a manor house at the beginning of the 20th century, by American artist Klots.

La Gacilly has an outstanding outdoor photographic art exhibition in July, August and September. Huge photos depicting life in different parts of the world are arranged in a sort of maze, and some are attached to local houses. It's entirely free to just wander around; but the town is hoping for trade. Sip a pint at the pub, browse, or stop for lunch and it's all worthwhile. 

Everyone loves a chateau! There's a stunner at Missillac. Visit for coffee or lunch in the grounds, or, for a special occasion, have dinner at the hotel, upwards of 56 euros plus wine at the Montaigu restaurant.  Chateau de la Bretesche is private, but the stables are converted to very up-market accommodation, room rates from 260 to 450 euros per night in high season.    

The grounds are now home to a nine hole golf course. Visitors can stroll in the park by the lake, (away from the golfers, of course). At the club facilities you can order anything from coffee, or a plate of sandwiches to a substantial repast. 

The sea is everywhere in this area. Inlets and coves are there for you to discover. Beaches will be small and secluded, large flat rocks more than sand. There is plenty of sand at Penestin, though, and, like the rest of the places mentioned, less than thirty minutes drive from your hub at La Roche Bernard.

An area as impressive as this has attracted British and other tourists; consequently most French locals speak a little English. A good tip: learn a couple of French phrases - excusez-moi and s'il vous plait are a good start. Be prepared to feel foolish and the French will reciprocate, they have a great sense of humour!  You are, after all, in France - and you're going to love it! 

For a super longer holiday, combine this with my guide 'Exploring the Brittany and Loire Atlantique border.'  Guerande is only 30 minutes drive away!. 

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More information on Exploring southern Brittany:

Author:
Myra Martin
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
4.4
Average: 4.4 (5 votes)
Total views:
434
First uploaded:
22 October 2009
Last updated:
4 years 34 weeks 6 min 39 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Activity, Cultural, Food and Drink
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range, Expensive
Free tags / Keywords:
shopping, camping, boating, country walking, caravanning

Myra recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Manoir Du Rodoir
£61
N/A
2. Auberge Les Deux Magots
N/A
3. Les Artisans Bed And Breakfast
N/A

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Community comments (6)

Rating:
5
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Excellent guide that made me want to visit very much indeed.When I did visit I found the review useful and accurate.I look forward to enjoy following Myra's guides again.

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Rating:
5
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I do not know this area of France but will seek this place after reading this article. The report and photographs are delightful.

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Rating:
4
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

I loved the writing which brought alive the places recommended. Look forward to reading a lot more from Myra.

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Rating:
5
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

A well written, varied report. Not only with plenty of detail but, also, a sense of humour. This makes, for me, a more readable article. Looking forward to reading more.

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Rating:
5
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Partocularly enjoyed the photos.

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Rating:
3
0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

It is obvious that you know southern Brittany very well Myra and this is a very concise guide. However, you need to help the reader out in places. For example, you say that "your camera will be working overtime!" Can you tell the reader about any sights that they shouldn't miss and need to take a picture of? Or, even better, can you direct them to sights that they might not find without reading your guide? The same applies to your description about restaurants overlooking the water. Do you have a favourite restaurant or a tip on a restaurant that readers shouldn't miss?

Please also help the reader to find places that you do recommend (an address and phone number would be great) and add some personal comments about the places that you mention. Do you like the "shabby-chic Le Sara B bistro"?

Thank you for adding your photographs. Is it possible to caption all of them please? Thank you!

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