With their quaysides lined by terraces, narrow streets full of colour and pontoons stretching gently out to sea, Brittany’s little ports are irresistible. The coastal scenery is picture-postcard, yet these places are full of life and vitality. You’ll completely fall for the charm and atmosphere of these six ports, which are among the most picturesque in the region.
You half-expect to see barrels of salt and wine being brought ashore here. With its stone bridge, cobbled quaysides and half-timbered houses, the port of Saint-Goustan, in Auray, has retained its medieval character. This former commercial and fishing port at the mouth of the river Loc’h is a unique part of town, and a great place to go for a stroll. Lose yourself in its steeply-sloping streets where artists have their hideouts. With the cafés and crêperies, there’s a lively buzz in the air at Place Saint-Saver and Quai Franklin. From beside the river Loc’h, you have plunging views down to this iconic spot in the Gulf of Morbihan.
2. Doëlan, a pearl at the end of the ria
Well protected by its two lighthouses, one red and the other green, the port of Doëlan nestles snugly in a deep ria on the southern coast, in Clohars-Carnoët. This tucked-away corner is as photogenic as you can get. There’s a striking contrast between the bright green hills, the white houses and the turquoise sea. This typical port still operates a cottage fishing industry. The return of the gillnetters and crabbers towards the end of the afternoon is a sight you shouldn’t miss. You can even buy fish and shellfish direct from the fishermen on the right bank. Freshness guaranteed!
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3. Sauzon, a picture postcard
It’s difficult to be more picturesque than Sauzon, to the north-west of Belle Île-en-Mer. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a Breton port. Creels and fishing nets are scattered around the quaysides lined with pastel houses, whose brightly-coloured shutters pick up the other hues used to paint the boats. Quaint little vessels bob at anchor next to smart yachts… The gentle pace of life here in low season is every bit as enjoyable as the hustle and bustle of summer. Just settle down on a terrace and enjoy.
A steep slipway leading down to the mouth of the river Odet, boats lying peacefully at anchor while others dry in the sun, a Sailors’ Refuge with pink walls… Everything about the pretty port of Sainte-Marine in Combrit makes you want to slow down. Enjoy a coffee in the morning sunshine; linger over a drink with friends in the evening. From the harbourside, in the shade of ancient oaks, you have stunning views of the trendy town of Bénodet, across the river. A five-minute ferry trip will take you there.
5. Camaret, a safe haven
At land’s end, on the Crozon peninsula, Camaret-sur-Mer enjoys an outstanding location. This beautiful port is sheltered by the Pointe du Grand Gouin headland and by a natural, long spit of shingle. Don’t miss a walk along the ‘sillon’ to the majestic Vauban Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the iconic chapel of Notre-Dame de Rocamadour. Stop to look at the boat cemetery, evidence of the history of lobster fishing in Camaret. All around the harbour are cafés and restaurants with colourful facades where you can sit for a while and watch the ballet of boats and gulls!
6. Dahouët, steeped in history
In days gone by, three-masted ships and schooners used to put out from here for Newfoundland and Iceland, where cod was plentiful. These days, the ships have been replaced by yachts that come to berth at the Bassin des Salines marina. Nestling in a natural harbour on the Pléneuf headland, the tidal port of Dahouët has lost none of its charm. Enjoy a stroll along the Quai de Terras-Neuvas with its rows of opulent ship-owners’ houses. For a journey back in time, step aboard La Pauline, a lugger with beautiful red sails and the port’s mascot.