10 ideas for discovering Brittany’s nature reserves and parks

Are wide open spaces what you dream of? Then come and visit Brittany’s nature reserves! These protected areas are the perfect place for spending time in the open air, and they have a few surprises up their sleeves, both inland and on the coast. 

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The Gulf of Morbihan Natural Park

With its 42 islands, its salt marshes and its oyster farms, the Gulf of Morbihan was officially classified as France’s 50th nature reserve in 2014. A fitting tribute to a ‘little sea’ that’s been popular ever since prehistoric times!

Join in the fun during the Gulf of Morbihan’s ‘Semaine du Golfe’ (Gulf Week)

Every other year in May, the Gulf of Morbihan holds a week of festivities where everybody is welcome. Thousands of traditional and modern boats of all sizes gather in this inland sea, which rocks them in its gentle currents. The ports are also buzzing with exhibitions, workshops and concerts during the“Semaine du Golfe”

Discover history at Gavrinis

The trip across to this island in the Gulf of Morbihan is enjoyable in itself, and once you arrive you’ll travel back in time. Within the cairn of Gavrinis is a dolmen consisting of a gallery leading to a burial chamber. This exceptionally fine Neolithic monument has a great many stone slabs bearing carvings dating back to 3,500 BC. Its impressive size makes it the high point of the Gulf of Morbihan. 

Try kayaking or paddle-boarding for a different view of the Gulf

Drift along on the waves of this inland sea to view the islands from lots of different angles. Pierre will take you on an expedition by kayak, dug-out canoe or paddle-board to discover the Gulf as you’ve never seen it before. You’ll paddle along as the current takes you, moving in harmony with the protected nature that surrounds you. Your day is rounded off by an aperitif and oyster-tasting session in the warm glow of the setting sun.

La Brière Natural Park

La Grande Brière’s canals and salt-marshes extend deep into the Guérande peninsula. These flood plains form a vast area of peat-bog where birds can be seen in the reeds or perching on the thatched roofs.

In the land of thatched houses

A boat trip to discover La Grande Brière’s unique points of interest is a must. Glide silently through the water lilies and past grey herons, and explore a labyrinth of canals with almost 3,000 thatched houses scattered along their banks. Stop off in the delightful village of Kerhinet where you’ll find a hamlet of 18 thatched dwellings, a thriving community of local craftspeople and a range of locally-made items.

Find out more: Le village de Kerhinet

The Armorican National Regional Park

The Armorican Regional Park was the second major nature reserve to be created in France. It stretches from Monts d’Arrée mountains to  the Crozon peninsula and extends into the sea around the Iroise islands. Its dramatic landscapes will make you want to climb higher to view the wonderful 360-degree panorama!

Share the nature park’s secrets

For the last four years, in early spring, the Armorican Natural Regional Park has held a festival of events specially for visitors, entitled ‘Partageons les secrets du Parc’ (Share the Park’s Secrets). More than 60 events take place over the weekend, from the isle of Ushant to Guerlesquin. There are guided walks, trips out to sea, demonstrations of traditional crafts, creative workshops and more. This weekend festival has something of interest for everybody.  

Find out more: Partageons les secrets du parc (Share The Park’s Secrets)

Try paragliding from the Ménez Hom

The Ménez Hom mountain reaches 330 metres at its highest point, and looks down over the Bays of Brest and Douarnenez. This mountain is the ideal spot to try paragliding and enjoy amazing views of t he Monts d’Arrée mountains. The Ménez Hom paragliding school runs introductory and advanced sessions in paragliding and hang-gliding, and also baptism flights. Time to take a flyer!

Find out more: Ecole de vol libre du Ménez-Hom (Ménez-Hom paragliding school)

An awesome panoramic view from Rosnoën belvedere

As you reach the Crozon peninsula, take a detour to the belvedere at Rosnoën. From there, you’ll have a 180-degree view over magnificent countryside. Looking in one direction, your eyes will follow the meanders of the river Aulne and its valley, and looking in the other direction you’ll see the Bay of Brest and Landévennec Abbey. A number of circular walks start from here too, which give you a chance to get a closer look at the points of interest along the route.

Find out more: Le belvédère de Rosnoën (Rosnoën belvedere)

Watch day break over the Monts d’Arrée mountains

In a landscape of gorse, heather and bracken, the first rays of the sun fall on the Monts d’Arrée mountains. Youenne is your guide on this unique early morning experience, which treats you to views of the countryside at its most magical. The panorama stretches from the peak of Le Roc'h Trévezel right to Morlaix bay, across this land of legends known as the Yeun Elez. As you make your way along the ridge, you might even spot the occasional korrigan (little breton elf)

The Iroise Natural Marine Park

The Iroise Natural Park, France’s only marine park, is situated at the far western extremity of Brittany, beyond the coast of the Finistère headland. This spot right at the ends of the earth offers an exceptional fauna, unspoiled landscapes and an experience that’s 100 per cent nature.

Ushant tells the story of Brittany’s lighthouses 

The isle of Ushant, situated where English Channel meets Atlantic Ocean, is surrounded by powerful currents that sailors can only negotiate safely with the help of its lighthouses. These lighthouses, the steadfast guardians of Brittany’s coast, let you into their secrets at the Lighthouse Museum (Musée des Phares et Balises). The history of marine signalling is explained there too, taking you right to the  heart of the great adventure-story of man and technology.

Find out more: Le musée des Phares et Balises (Lighthouse Museum) 

Watch seals and dolphins in the Molène archipelago 

Take a boat trip into the heart of the archipelago’s little islands with Christel and Lucky, and discover the loveliness of Molène. During the crossing you’ll meet dolphins and grey seals, before stopping off to see the island’s pretty narrow streets and flower-covered houses. Or if you’re feeling energetic, you can don mask and snorkel to see what’s beneath the surface, on a sea excursion that gives you an opportunity to dive into the underwater world of the archipelago.

Find out more: Découverte originale de l'archipel de Molène (An unusual way to discover the Molène archipelago)

With TripAdvisor’s reviews from travellers

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