Last Updated on 31/03/2022 by secretmoona
Off the beaten track – Brittany
Last month, I visited a part of Brittany that I always wanted to discover. Not many people outside of France know this little gem of a destination. After exploring the northern part of Brittany, I wanted to see the South, which I was told was savage and unspoiled. Visiting new places is what I love, and Brittany offers the perfect off the beaten track getaway. I had the chance to spend New Year’s in the Golfe du Morbihan, part of the Club des “Plus Belles Baies du Monde” (Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club).
I started my exploration in Nantes. Technically, Nantes is not in Brittany; however, it was the base of the Breton culture and place of residence of the Dukes of Brittany centuries ago.
After meeting my friend in Nantes, we headed towards the Golfe du Morbihan to her family home in Saint Gildas de Rhuys.
Where is the Golfe du Morbihan?
Located on the southern coastline, the Golfe du Morbihan (Morbihan Coast/ Gulf of Morbihan) is a little paradise popular with the French, especially Parisian. With 40 islands, pristine beaches, walled cities, fishing villages, endless coastlines and delicious seafood, including the best oysters in the country, the Golfe du Morbihan is a destination for your bucket list!
Mor-Bihan means “little sea” in Breton.
Saint Gildas is a little seaside town located south of the Rhuys Peninsula on the southern edge of the Gulf of Morbihan. Due to its shape, the peninsula serves as a natural shelter against the strong Atlantic Ocean.
My first impression of St Gildas de Rhys was the smell of the sea. We arrived in the evening and took a stroll in the town’s prominent place. Like most towns in the French countryside, the main square is where you find the restaurants, cafes and religious buildings. Saint Gildas is no different, and their 1000-year-old roman styled Abbatiale church is worth a visit, especially for its stained glass.
The following morning, I was all smiles when I opened the windows facing the sea. Imagine living in a house with a sea view; for a city girl like me, it’s a… dream!
After a lovely breakfast, we went for a walk around the coast. The little town has lots of scenic views, and people usually visit for the rawness of its shores. We walked on the deserted sandy beach, passed the hidden creeks, and then faced beautiful views of the islands on the other side. As per the locals, the beaches are the best on the peninsula. It was too cold and windy to enjoy the beach, so I guess I need to come back in summer to check it out.
Another spot worth visiting while in St Gildas is the Musée des Arts, Metiers et Commerces (museum of arts, trades and business). If you are interested in history, you will enjoy seeing this museum. It shows how companies and trades were up to the 19th century.
Another town I visited was Arzon which is popular in the summer. This little village has a quiet port ideal for a relaxing holiday and has great but cheap seafood. When in Arzon, the ideal place to explore is the Atlantic coast to appreciate Port Navalo and its fishing boats. You will be charmed by the many coves and beaches. In warmer weather, you will choose to get your beach towel out or enjoy water sports activities (sailing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, kite-surfing, sailing, diving, etc.)
Out of the three towns on the peninsula, Sarzeau is the most visited in the summer. Sarzeau should be on your itinerary if you like history and architecture. If so, the traditional stone houses and Chateau de Suscino (castle of Suscino) should be part of your trip. Built in the 13th century, it was the residence of the Dukes of Brittany.
On its northern coast, the Rhuys peninsula offers a myriad of activities. You can take a trip out to the sea to discover the islands of the gulf like Belle-Ile. Or see oyster farms while kayaking. As the tides come and go, you can see the numerous oyster beds.
As well as offering tasty seafood, the Rhuys peninsula also provides a range of culinary delights such as tomme of Rhuys cheese, cider, cookies or Gochtial bread (a sweet brioche type bread).
Although I enjoyed my trip, January is not the best time to experience the full charm of the region. Golfe du Morbihan is best visited in spring or summer. To help organise your trip, please check out Morbihan Tourism’s website (here)
Have you been to the Golfe du Morbihan in Brittany? What was your favourite non-touristy thing? Please share them in the comments.