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10 Reasons for coming to Upper Brittany
The biggest tides in Europe
Enjoy the fresh sea air and marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of spring tides!
Watch the impressive, captivating sight of the biggest tides in Europe at Saint-Malo and on windy days, look out for the waves which break over the coastal town. On a scale of 20 to 120, the tidal coefficients at Saint-Malo regularly reach 110 ! This awesome natural phenomenon occurs every fortnight and provides absolutely stunning scenery.
Spring tides are also a great opportunity for shellfish gathering and rock pool fishing. At low tide put on your wellies, take a rake or a shrimp net and go hunting for some of the many types of shellfish that live beneath the sand and in rockpools. Fill your bucket with mussels, clams, crabs, winkles and oysters and collect a seafood platter !
Land of Legends
Visit the Brocéliande Forest, a land full of mystery and secrets…
Brocéliande Forest, the largest forest in Brittany, is an exceptional setting with a myriad of enchanting sites including ‘La Vallée du Val sans Retour’ (the Valley of no return), ‘l’Etang du Miroir aux Fées’ (Lake of the Fairies’ Mirror), ‘l’Arbre d’or’ (the Golden Tree). The forest is also an authentic imaginary kingdom, steeped in tales of the adventures of King Arthur, Merlin the Wizard and the fairies Morgane and Viviane. Retrace the footsteps of these legendary characters on an enchanted walk in the company of a story-teller.
La Porte des Secrets is a unique visitor experience which explores all aspects of life in the magical universe of the forest. But there is more to the land of legends than just the Brocéliande Forest : the Roche aux Fées (Fairies’ Rock), the megalithic site at Saint-Just and the menhir at Champ Dolent also evoke the ancient rites and beliefs of Upper Brittany. So many secrets, just waiting to be discovered…
Along the Coast
Explore the jewels in the crown of the Emerald Coast: Saint-Malo, Cancale, and Dinard.
Saint-Malo, a town which owes its prosperity to the sea, was THE landmark port for navigators, ship-owners, and sailors. Today, its narrow lanes, mansions and in particular, its ramparts, all remind us of its seafaring past. Take a walk along the ramparts to admire panoramic views of the sea and harbour. Dinard, nicknamed « the Nice of the North » during La Belle Epoque before the First World War, is especially well-known for its beaches, seaside villas and its famous blue and white striped bathing tents. It offers superb coastal walks including the Pointe du Moulinet, the Pointe de la Malouine and the Clair de Lune Promenade which never fail to enchant visitors. Cancale, the pearl of the Emerald Coast, is widely reputed for its oysters which you can taste at the oyster market on the harbourside at La Houle. The fishing port, which is a noted gastronomic venue, also has amazing views across the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel.
Three towns with one thing in common : magnificent panoramic views! To make the most of them, walk along the GR34 footpath which was once used by customs men, and discover the stunning, rugged, natural beauty.
Treat yourself to some delicious local specialities !
Sweet and savoury, there’s something scrumptious for everyone ! The restaurateurs and producers of Upper Brittany offer an amazing range of mouthwatering specialities including buckwheat ‘galettes’, oysters, scallops, crêpes, Kouign Amann, butter caramels, cider and ‘craquelins’. Dishes made from local produce offer visitors traditional, generous cuisine, rich in flavour.
For an even more delicious gourmet experience, treat yourself to a meal prepared by one of our Michelin-starred chefs at La Coquerie, Le Saison, Le Coquillage or la Table de Breizh. These passionate chefs highlight fresh produce from sea and land in a masterful blend of tradition and modernity.
The wonderful scenery of Upper Brittany has long been a source of inspiration and not just for tourists!
François-René de Chateaubriand confided in his Memoirs from Beyond the Grave « It was in the woods of Combourg that I became who I am ». The famous writer was born in Saint-Malo and was buried at his own request on the Ile du Grand Bé.
Victor Hugo gave a very personal description of Dol-de-Bretagne, « Dol (…) is not a town, it is a street. It is a grand, historic, Gothic street with unevenly-aligned pillared houses on both sides which zig-zag along the wide thoroughfare ».
Balzac drew inspiration from the countryside and the hill known as ‘La Pèlerine’ which he saw from his bedroom window in Fougères, to create the backdrop and plot for the first chapter of his novel ‘Les Chouans’.
Last and by no means least, Madame de Sévigné, who lived at the Château des Rochers Sévigné in Vitré, confided her thoughts to paper in her Letters to Madame Grignan, her daughter.
Numerous writers, novelists, and poets have already been captivated by the traditions, history and mysteries of the region which runs from the Emerald Coast to Brocéliande Forest via Fougères and Vitré. Now it’s your turn to fall under its spell…
Take to the water
Take to the water in a multitude of different ways including windsurfing, kitesurfing, stand up paddle, kayaking, and sailing, you’re spoilt for choice!
Get your adrenalin flowing and try your hand at one of the many water sports on offer in Upper Brittany which ranges from old favourites to recent innovations! The often windy shoreline guarantees a winning combination of speed and clean sea air.
Sand-yachting along the beach at Saint-Malo and elsewhere is another thrilling experience. The beaches of Hill and Cherrueix with the superb backdrop of the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel are ideal for beginners. Fun and thrills guaranteed!
A lavish, maritime lifestyle
Visit one of the 112 Malouinières (ship-owners’ mansions) around Saint-Malo, superb reminders of the port’s buccaneering past.
Saint-Malo was home to many navigators, including the best-known, Surcouf and Cartier. The prosperous ship owners found life within the walled town rather restricted, so they built beautiful country houses outside the town where they spent several months of the year. The 112 perfectly symmetrical mansions are characterized by wooden sculptures and gardens ‘à la française’. Discover these residences, their gardens and the weapons belonging to their owners, which played a key role in the success of their naval expeditions.
A delicious market
Take a stroll through the ‘Lices de Rennes’ Market, the second-largest food market in France.
This lively market is held every Saturday morning at the historic heart of Rennes, in cobbled streets lined with half-timbered houses. A colourful, delicious-smelling profusion of flowers, fruit, and vegetables, meat and fish are set out on 300 stalls to entice customers. Make the most of your visit to taste local specialities including cider, salted butter, shellfish, charcuterie… and, of course, the inimitable ‘galette-saucisse’ (a sausage buckwheat wrap), there’s something for everyone !
Between land and sea
Follow the Ille-et-Rance Canal and the river Vilaine along the Manche-Océan Link.
The Manche-Océan Link between the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean covers 200km from Saint-Malo to Saint-Nazaire via Rennes and Redon. It was originally created for economic reasons, but with the gradual decline of commercial traffic, it has become a marvellous tourist activity.
Walk or cycle along the towpaths to explore the banks of the canals. Drift along with the current board a barge or a boat. See the countryside from a different angle as you slowly pass by traditional villages and peaceful scenery to the gentle sounds of the water.
Upper Brittany is a region of international renown in the fields of music, literature and sport. Our top 3 events are: La Route du Rhum single-handed yacht race, the Trans Musicales Festival and the Transat Québec- Saint-Malo Race.
The Route du Rhum is a single-handed Transatlantic yacht race which takes place every four years. In November 2014, yachtsmen and yachtswomen set sail from Saint-Malo for Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. The Transat Québec-Saint-Malo has existed for 30 years. During the summer, the crews of mono-hulled and multi-hulled vessels sail down the Saint-Lawrence River from Quebec City then across the Atlantic to Saint-Malo. The 5,365km race is the only crewed non-stop Transatlantic race from west to east.
For landlubbers, there is numerous drama, literary and music festivals in Upper Brittany. One of these is the Trans Musicales in Rennes, a series of rock and new music concerts in December every year, which provides a showcase for up and coming talent. Many groups have made it in the music industry after appearing at this mythical venue.