No matter how well you think you know Brittany, it always manages to surprise. We love it because it’s easy to reach from the UK. But there are so many other reasons to visit and they’re even more irresistible. Take a look.
Family holidays in Brittany are always unforgettable for kids. After all it’s the land of Arthurian legends and magical forests, captivating castles and the most amazing beaches. Of course, parents and grandparents love those things too, so if you’re planning a multi-gen break this year, you couldn’t find a better destination. There are also wonderful places to stay all over the region – the well-deserved French reputation for excellent campsites and eco-friendly holiday homes owes a lot to Breton hospitality. And whatever you have your heart set on in terms of fun, there’s a high chance it’s happening in Brittany during summer and well into autumn.
A 2,700 kilometre coastline makes the region a natural for seaside escapes. However, explore inland, and you’ll discover spellbinding landscapes, pretty villages and extraordinary experiences, most of which are specifically designed to delight families. The Nantes to Brest Canal is perfect if you’re thinking about adding some easy sailing into your holiday. Although this iconic waterway is also one of the many traffic-light, level and family-friendly cycling routes which network all over Brittany.
So now you’ve a hint of why Brittany is impossible to resist, it’s a great time to start making plans. Fortunately Brittany Tourism has everything to hand for that. We simply asked what was going on this year and it turns out the answers could fill a book. So here are a few of the edited highlights.
Find easy cycle routes all over Brittany this summer
You know how excited kids get zipping along on their own bikes. It’s a freedom you can only give them when you feel confident. That’s what cycling in Brittany is all about for families: safe, traffic-light, flat routes all over the region. You can ride for hours if you want. But there are always plenty of reasons to stop. And bike-friendly campsites, gîtes and hotels mean you can even make responsible, low-impact cycling your main form of holiday transport.
- Take to the region’s heart and follow the Nantes to Brest Canal for a scenic 25 kilometres between Pontivy and Gué. This level, easy going ride lets kids see the workings of 54 locks along the way.
- The recently completed Green Route along northern Brittany’s Mont St Michel Bay is another great family cycle. We probably don’t need to tell you how spectacular it is, since Mont St Michel is one of the world’s most photographed islets.
- Quiberon Bay on the south coast is an ethereal landscape of big seas, dunes and wide open spaces. Cycling around well marked routes here is a joy with kids. Although you can mix bike rides and pretty train journeys to give younger ones a break.
- For families with older kids, cycling the entire length of the Nantes to Brest Canal is a holiday in itself. It takes about a week to cover the entire 390km route and some bike hire companies offer a one-way service. So you can cycle the canal, drop off your bikes and do the return journey by train.
Canal life is sweet and simple in Brittany
Brittany’s coast is a magnet for sailors, but we think families should discover its canals. These historic waterways take you deep into the heart of the region and they’re fascinating. However, spend a day boating, kayaking or even paddle-boarding on them and you could easily believe they were created simply for pleasure.
Locally the canals of Brittany are known as the ‘Land of the Middle’ because they stretch for more than 600km inland and are like another world. Whichever way you discover them – you can even cycle on tranquil towpaths – you won’t be disappointed. Often the only sounds are bird song, gently lapping water or a friendly ‘bonjour’ from people out fishing. And we know from experience how much kids adore the adventure. Even just for a day, the freedom, fresh air and never ending supply of sights guarantees Brittany’s canal-life a place on the list of best holiday memories, ever.
Breton castles have a fun take on history
Brittany’s medieval castles and fortresses are a real revelation. Just don’t arrive expecting stuffy exhibits and dusty tours. In this part of the world they’ve a lively take on history so kids can look forward to treasure hunts and dress up, games, puzzles and plenty of adventure. It might all seem like playing, but you’ll be surprised by how much learning has stuck by the end of your visit.
- An hour west of Saint-Malo, Château Bienassis is the one to pick if your kids are up for a real life ‘escape game’. It also runs calligraphy workshops and if you need a breather, stroll the gorgeous gardens.
- The fortress of Kergroadez-en-Brélès sits in the north west. Here younger kids get to dress up and solve a mystery, clue-by-clue. There’s a fabulous green maze to explore in the grounds. And The Curse of the Pirate is just one of the family escape games to play.
- Château de Fougères is Europe’s largest fortress and lords it over the lovely medieval town of Fougères, about 40 minutes north east of Rennes. This is the one to choose for historical re-enactments, charming medieval markets and the chance for your kids to try on authentic armour.
Trip ideas to inspire family holidays all over Brittany
Brittany is somewhere families return to again and again. With good reason, as it’s an endlessly fascinating region with an almost limitless supply of things to see and do. Which is wonderful, although a little trip-planning guidance is useful too.
Several of Brittany Tourism’s three-four day trip ideas are perfect for summer and autumn. Just the right length to fit into short or longer family holidays, they pretty much cover every part of the region.
- Discover Arthurian myth and legend on a trip to the Forest of Brocéliande in the heart of Brittany. Here storyteller guides captivate kids with tales of wood nymphs and wizards. Places like Merlin’s Seat and the Church of the Holy Grail are waiting to be explored. There are immersive experiences, glorious woodland trails, as well as pretty places to stay. And if your kids didn’t believe in fairies to start with, they will after these three enchanting days.
- Choose a floating houseboat holiday home in Morbihan and explore the towns, villages, castles and even standing stones along the River Oust. Spend time getting to know historic Josselin and its graceful château. Cycle some of the Nantes to Brest Canal. Make for the beautifully preserved medieval ‘bridge town’ of Malestroit. Then immerse yourself in the mystery of the Monteneuf Moors on the edge of the Brocéliande Forest.
- Start on the lovely Ile de Pies and spend four days cycling the gentle area where the River Vilaine meets the Nantes to Brest Canal. Only soft transport is permitted here, so it’s a gentle trip even for younger kids. And the level, looping route is dotted with bike-friendly hotels and gîtes so you can plan each day to suit your little cyclists.
Let kids find their true nature with farm fun
Whether you want to meet donkeys for the day in Pont-Aven or stay for a week on a working farm, Brittany adds everything from seed sowing to apple pressing into the family holiday mix this year.
Horse riding is just one fun experience to try. There are thrilling escape games for teens and younger children adore feeding animals, picking fruit and playing in the fresh air.
Enchanting and eco-friendly family holiday homes
Quirky might be an overused word, but Brittany can lay claim to it with no shame when it comes to places to stay. The quirkiest of all holiday homes are at home in the region and they seem to have been designed simply to delight your kids.
- Lakeside on the edge of the immense Quénécan Forest, the Cabanes de Quénécan are tucked up into 100 year old oaks or perched on stilts. Naturally kids adore them, but don’t be surprised to find yourself coming over all childlike with enchantment too.
- More family-friendly treehouses, this time in the Vallée de Pratmeur in the Blavet Valley. As well as the freedom of enormous, unspoiled grounds and the company of all sorts of animals from alpaca to donkeys, kids will also love the fun stuff just for them, like tree trampolines and disco golf.
- Spectacular Quiberon Bay in south west Brittany is where to find La Belle Folie. These eco-designed sculpture cabins live in a forest and are all about harmony with nature and a lot of fun too. In addition to accommodation, there’s a great Forest School programme. So you can mix days by the sea with days in the wood.
Brittany Ferries make family holidays easy to do in 2022
Brittany Ferries is the only ferry operator offering direct sailings to Brittany. Choose between crossings from Portsmouth to St. Malo or Plymouth to Roscoff and bring the car so you can pack everything you need, good news when you’re travelling with kids. And because there’s so much to see and do on board, the holiday feeling starts the minute you set sail.
Younger children can look forward to their own play areas. Free on-board WIFI as well as a games room stocked with the latest video games will keep the most restless teens happy. There are also well-equipped baby changing areas, children’s menus in all restaurants and even shops to browse. Plus, if you sail on Brittany Ferries Pont-Aven flagship from Plymouth to Roscoff, young passengers can splash around the on-board pool or catch a movie in the ship’s cinema.
How to plan family holidays in Brittany
Where is Brittany?
Brittany is in north west France. Famous for its 2,700km Atlantic coastline trimmed with beautiful beaches and romantic islands, it’s also home to the Nantes-Brest Canal and Brocéliande Forest.
How to get to Brittany?
Brittany Ferries sails direct from Portsmouth to St. Malo and from Plymouth to Roscoff.
Daytime sailings take from 5 hours, 30 minutes.
Now you know what an inspired idea Brittany is for families of all shapes and sizes this year, start making plans. Visit Brittany Tourism for everything you need to know from where to go to things to do and see when you get there, as well as the best family accommodation and an incredible range of kid-friendly trip ideas.