Gwin Zégal
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5 day road trip through northern BrittanyWith What Stacy Did

5 day road trip through northern Brittany

Travel photographer and blogger Stacy Cartledge-Cole shares the route she followed through northern Brittany and gives you information and inspiration for your own adventures through this charming corner of France.

Suggestion for break in
5 days


When it comes to a road trip, Brittany is the perfect region to explore with its historic castles, picture perfect villages, world renowned cuisine, spectacular landscape and some hidden gems along the way. Starting in Plouha and ending in Lamballe, this itinerary begins with picturesque coastline before taking in world class gardens, fairytale castles, medieval villages and fresh local produce. You’ll even visit two of just thirty-three ‘Grand Sites Of France’. Follow this trip idea as suggested or use it as a helpful guide to create your own route around Brittany.

A coastal excursion

The coastline around Brittany is the ideal place to begin your road trip. We started off in the charming seaside resort of Saint-Quay-Portrieux where we spent the morning laying on one of its golden sandy beaches with pastries for breakfast. The town is popular for those who want to come and enjoy a leisurely day on the beach with their families as well as those seeking activities like hiking or kayaking. In the afternoon, move along the coast towards Plouha. We stopped at the port of Gwin Zégal where you can begin a picturesque walk along the GR® 34 coastal path towards Bonaparte beach. Take the time to enjoy looking through the pools of water close to the rocky shoreline, you’ll find loads of creatures and life you might never have noticed otherwise.

Discover the Côtes-d’Armor

From charming gardens to medieval castles to picture postcard villages, you won’t be short of places to discover The Côtes-d’Armor . Begin your day at the world renowned Kerdalo Gardens, a hidden gem that only those with a keen interest in gardening know about. Les Jardins de Kerdalo are said to be one of the best gardens created in the whole of Europe since WWII. For lunch, head to the medieval town of Pontrieux, one of the most beautiful and charming towns in the whole of Brittany. You’ll find a wealth of half timbered houses around the small town centre, the most famous being the Maison de la Tour Eiffel, a tall leaning town house dating back to the 16th century. Just a short ten minute drive from Pontrieux you’ll find the Château de la Roche-Jagu. This former medieval fortress is imposing with its location perched atop the banks of the Trieux river. Enjoy a wander around the grounds, stopping to take in the pretty kitchen garden.

  • Pontrieux is often referred to as ‘Little Venice of Trégor’ for its location along the river banks of the Trieux River. You can hire a boat for as little as 4 € to take you along the river where you can learn about the unique wash houses.
  • The Château de la Roche-Jagu hosts regular art installations which are fun for children and adults alike so make sure not to miss popping inside the castle.
  • In Pontrieux, take lunch at Les Jardins du Trieux where you will be able to enjoy the picturesque views out over the river as you enjoy your meal.

Medieval Castles and Villages

Move further inland to the perfectly preserved medieval village of Moncontour. This ‘Petite Cité de Caractère’ dates back to the 11th century and is famous for still having its 13th and 14th century ramparts intact. Grab a map from the tourist information office and you will get the best walking route along the charming cobbled lanes and alleys. In the market square, take the time to pay a visit inside the magnificent Église Saint-Mathurin to marvel at the stained glass windows. Hidden away in Moncontour, there is a secret garden: Jardin d’Hildegarde, where you will find the best views out over the village (only open on Sundays during the summer months).
Leaving Moncontour behind, drive thirty minutes to the Château de la Hunaudaye. Built in the early 13th century, this fortified castle has had a long and brutal history which has seen it destroyed multiple times. Today however, it makes a great place to spend a day out with the family.

  • Don’t leave Moncontour without paying a visit to Pâtisserie Poireau where you can sample the local speciality ‘Le Rocher de Moncontour’.
  • Eat at local foodie hotspot ‘Le Contre Temps’. This eaterie prides itself on fresh local produce with their bread coming from the baker just around the corner, their cider from The Cellier de la Ville Loyo just a short drive away in Trédaniel as well as beer, apple juice, honey, cheeses… coming from producers and breeders from the Pays de Moncontour and Côtes d’Armor.

Discover the scenic coast from the Cap d’Erquy to Pleneuf-Val-André

Brittany is renowned for its spectacular coastline. With long stretches of white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and rocky coves, it’s easy to see why this region has a reputation for its natural beauty. To discover this for yourself, spend a morning hiking along the Cap d’Erquy. Known for its outstanding landscape and natural history, the cape of Erquy is classified under the protection of natural sites and monuments and is the second of the ‘Grand Sites Of France’ in this trip idea. Park at the Lourtuais car park to begin your walk which will take you past a stunning view over the port of Erquy, the cove of Port Blanc and on to some of the best wild beaches Brittany has to offer. Head for lunch at Erquy before heading to Pléneuf-Val-André to continue exploring more of Brittany’s dramatic coastline.

  • Just outside of Pléneuf-Val-André you’ll find the small port of Dahouët, a charming little place with picturesque streets that lead to beautiful views out over the rocky coast.
  • Stop at La Crêperie du Pêcheur to indulge in delicious local gastronomy.
  • We really enjoyed dinner at Libeccio in the town of Pléneuf-Val-André. There is a lovely rooftop terrace to sit outdoors and enjoy drinks with a view before you tuck into delicious food.

A day of culture

The town of Lamballe is a peaceful little town, home to arts and culture, as well as a national stud farm. Take the time to stroll the historic streets and alleyways, wandering past colourful half timbered buildings, museums, art galleries and a multitude of cafes and shops. You will also find La collégiale Notre-Dame de Lamballe, a 14th century church which sits just outside of the town centre. Take the walking path down by the river where you can see one of the old historic wash houses on the water’s edge. On the river path you will also find the best view of the town, looking back up towards the church. It’s a wonderful sight. To end your time in Brittany, take a twenty minute drive north towards the coast where you will find Le Panier Iodé, a seafood restaurant and Bouchot mussels farm.

  • Make sure to enjoy lunch at Le Panier Iodé. Everything is freshly caught and we enjoyed some of the best seafood we’ve had in years. From oysters, to mussels, to langoustines and lobster, you will be in for a treat. Take the time to enquire about their mussel farming process. During the summer months they do tours out onto the seafront where they will explain all about mussel farming in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc who supply nearly 10% of the entire French annual production of mussels.

Focus on

Hidden behind L’église Saint-Jean de Lamballe is a medieval kitchen garden. You can quite easily miss this little gem which is delightfully tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the town, sitting in the shadow of the church. We found it the perfect spot to enjoy a little solitude, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers which were accompanied by a backdrop of birdsong. A great place to come and relax.

Where to sleep

Les Petites Maisons Arin
A collection of three lovingly converted former fishermans cottages that have excellent views from the Pointe de Kerarzic out over Paimpol bay towards the Abbaye de Beauport. If the weather is right, you’ll be treated to a spectacular sunset. This is a small family run business and on the peninsula you’ll also find the family oyster farm which is run by Soizic’s husband. Make sure to tuck into some of their fresh oysters.

Les Petites Maisons Arin

The Manoir de La Villeneuve
An 18th century manor house full of character, history and charm. Set in 3.5 hectares of picturesque parkland and just a couple of minutes from the town of Lamballe, Nathalie Peres and her husband have lovingly restored this house over the last twenty years and their attention to detail is second to none. You won’t leave here without falling for its charm.

The Manoir de La Villeneuve

What Stacy Did

Stacy Cartledge-Cole is a travel photographer and blogger hailing from the United Kingdom. She spent fifteen years living in Saudi Arabia where she developed an ardent love of travel. A passion that steered the course of her life. Today, she travels the world as a professional photographer, working alongside tourist boards and hotels to promote tourism in each destination. When not photographing, you’ll find Stacy exploring English country gardens, chocolate box villages and grande country estates which she shares on her travel site What Stacy Did alongside trip ideas, itineraries and hotel reviews for those wanting to discover the beauty of this world.


Official website of tourism in Brittany