Brittany is the second most popular beach destination for French holidays after the Mediterranean, even outranking nearby Normandy. But with over 2,000 kilometers of coastline, you can always get away from the crowds of visitors who flock here for vacation.
Brittany has everything you could want: long, white-sand beaches, rocky coves full of small pools of fish and shellfish while a coastline of cliffs falls dramatically to the pounding waves of the sea below. It's known for some of the best—and freshest—fish and shellfish restaurants among French seaside resorts. Brittany is perfect for a summer holiday, but it’s also a wonderfully romantic stretch of coastline during the winter when the waves lash against the shoreline and tales of shipwrecks and smugglers spring to mind.
The Bretons are deeply independent, a people with a strong Celtic culture. They are proud of the Bretagne beaches. You'll find it the best place for a get-away-from-it-all holiday.
Here is a guide map to the best beaches in Brittany that stretch along the coast. Start with the rocky headlands on the north Brittany Cap, like Cap d'Erquy, where the cliffs plunge into the sea. Next, visit the western and southern surfing beaches before heading around to the more sheltered southerly bays of the Quiberon Peninsula.
West of Saint-Malo and east of St-Brieuc on the north Brittany cap, Cap d'Erquy is a small stretch of coast with nine beaches. It's rugged and beautiful, with pink sandstone cliffs plunging down to the sea. It's also a nature reserve, so there's plenty of local flora and fauna for walkers along the coast. For many Cap d'Erquy sums up Brittany.
If you're there with your family, try the sheltered Plage de Caroual; if you feel adventurous, walk along the clifftop where you'll discover paths leading down through the pine trees and gorse to small, hidden beaches. The Cap d'Erquy is well known to the French, though curiously ignored by many other nationalities.
Baie de Lannion
Along the delightfully–and accurately–named Pink Granite Coast, lies Baie de Lannion beach known as Grand Plage de Goas Lagorn, sheltered enough for families with young children. Keep them happy with a raft of activities, from windsurfing to kayaking. The stretch of beach runs along the North Brittany Cap between the Celtic towns of Lannion and Trébeurden.
Directly west from Roscoff, you get to Ménéham down a single-track road north of Kerlouan. The village itself on the top of the cliff is an extraordinary site with its stone houses built among huge boulders that make the place look as if there was a manic fight between two giants in north Finistere. You can either scramble down to the boulder-strewn beach or drive down to Brignogan-Plages to the east.
On the west coast of Finistère on the Pointe du Raz, the Baie d’Audierne is a 30-kilometer long tongue of land, which perches on the edge of the southern tip. The westernmost beach, the Baie des Trépassés feels like the end of the world. Looking out to the Ile de Sein, then beyond, this seems like the perfect place for surfers riding the long waves of the Atlantic.
The Quiberon Peninsula is a glorious long sandy stretch jutting out into the ocean. At Saint-Pierre-Quiberon you find the two beaches of Penthièvre Plages. The west-looking beach facing the might of the Atlantic is the place for the adventurous. The Grande Plage, stretching between Plouharnel and Penthièvre on the eastern side is perfect if you want to go sand yachting. Facing the Baie de Quiberon, this part of Southern Brittany is also ideal for families. The boardwalk that runs down between the two beaches has plenty of shops and restaurants for that après-swimming rest.
Catch the ferry from Quiberon to Belle-Ile, the largest island off Brittany and famous for its associations with Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask. It’s a beautiful place with wonderful beaches, particularly les Grand Sables which faces east towards France. There are a few small towns: fortified Le Palais, Sauzon, and inland Bangor.
Facing out to Belle-Île but a little further south on the Guerande Peninsula, La Baule-Escoublac is particularly popular with a long white sand beach stretching along the whole of the Baie de la Baule. There are lots of opportunities for various sports, including fast and furious jet ski rides.