10 great ideas for forest walks
For a bracing walk in mature woodland, or a mushroom-gathering expedition, you can take your pick from Brittany’s many national forests. Watching the wildlife can be a source of endless fascination, and the sweet woodland scents will act as a tonic to recharge your batteries.
Famous trees and legends in Brocéliande
Brocéliande, Brittany’s largest forest, is a real paradise for ramblers and nature lovers. Some of the trees, such as Guillotin’s Oak, the chestnut tree at the Pas aux Biches and Ponthus’s Beech, are huge and awe-inspiring . The forest has a reputation for magic: fairies and ‘korrigans’ (little Breton leprechauns) are said to be found here. Brocéliande is also steeped in the legend of Merlin the Wizard and Viviane, the Lady of the Lake.
Find out more: Brocéliande forest
Discover Brittany’s answer to Fontainebleau at Huelgoat
Huelgoat’s legendary forest, you’ll probably feel very small in the middle of those granite giants! Out of all the boulders that are such a special feature of this forest, the Trembling Rock (la Roche Tremblante), which weighs almost 137 tonnes, is the one that will make the most lasting impression on you if you manage to make it shake. Another rock, called the Mushroom (le Champignon), also makes you feel that in this forest, legends are still very much alive.
Find out more: Huelgoat Tourist Office
A stone’s throw from the city – Rennes forest
Just outside Brittany’s capital there is a vast forest that’s very popular with serious walkers as well as city-dwellers out for a Sunday stroll. With its network of broad paths, it’s a place within easy reach of the city where you can really get a breath of fresh air. The forest consists of beeches, oaks and Scots pines, and you’ll find a varied flora and fauna around the edges of the ponds and the streams that run through it.
Find out more: setting off from La Bouexière, setting off from Liffré
Panoramic views of the Laïta river in the Carnoët forest
The paths in this former royal forest can be enjoyed by horse-riders and walkers. Bordered by the Laïta river, the forest stretches as far as Quimperlé. At the top of a rocky knoll called ‘Rocher Royal’ there’s a spectacular view of the river below, and the path then leads to the Château de Carnoët. According to legend, this château was the home of ‘Barbe Bleue’, Cornouaille’s answer to Bluebeard.
Find out more: A walk in Carnoët forest
Mushroom gathering in Beffou forest
In Brittany, going for a walk in the forest is sure to involve collecting mushrooms! Not far from
Belle-Isle-en-Terre you’ll find Beffou forest, the highest forest in Brittany and a great place for finding bolets (ceps or porcini) and girolles. Throughout the year, on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, keen mushroom hunters on the lookout for gourmet treats come along with their mushroom knives and baskets, in the hope of bagging the best specimens.
Find out more: Beffou Forest
The remarkable standing stones of Fougères forest
Beeches reign supreme in this 1,700 hectare national forest, where you’ll find an alignment of around 50 standing stones, known as the Line of Druids (le Cordon des Druides). Not far away is the ‘Pierre Courcoulée’, a gallery grave with an impressive cap-stone that is split in two. And the Cellars of Landéan (les Celliers de Landéan), an underground gallery of stone arches, are still very much a mystery.
Find out more: Woods and forests around Fougères
Mountain biking in Hunaudaye forest
Hunaudaye forest is really geared up for sports! At the mountain bike centre at Jugon-les-Lacs you can improve your mountain-biking skills and join a guided expedition. The 15 and 26 kilometre circuits are perfect for enjoying the peace and quiet of the wooded paths in this national forest. Your route will take you to the medieval ruins of Hunaudaye castle.
Find out more: Jugon les Lacs Tourist Office
Quénécan forest, Brittany’s ‘Little Switzerland’
Hidden away not far from
Guerlédan Lake and
Bon-Repos abbey is a vast expanse of woodland that you really should see. In the heart of this forest is a historic metalworking village called ‘Les Forges des Salles’, that has been preserved intact to this day. Along the way are a number of sites that are designated areas of outstanding natural beauty and make ideal spots to stop for a breather: the ‘Saut du Chevreuil’ (literally: Deer’s Leap, a steep escarpment), the Breuil du Chêne (panoramic viewpoint) and the Stand Er Ihruen gorges.
Find out more: Quénécan forest
Trees from around the world in Gâvre forest
At the heart of this forest, which originally belonged to the Dukes of Brittany, you can visit the seven-hectare ‘Arboretum de la Magdeleine', where you’ll see trees from all over the world. There are many specimens from Europe, America and Asia, as well as a number of themed paths and the ‘Maison de la Forêt’ visitor centre.
Find out more: Maison de la Forêt visitor centre
Camors forest: legends from the land of clog-makers
This forest, in the northern part of the Pays d’
Auray area, has been a source of raw materials for local clog-makers over the years. In fact, Morbihan’s last remaining clog-maker still has his workshop here. According to legend, a stone circle at the foot of a particular oak tree, the ‘Bé-er Sant’ (the Tomb of the Saint), has the power to help children learn to walk. You often find little shoes left here, which shows that people still believe in the legend to this day.
Find out more: Camors