A Week of Slow Travel in BrittanyWith Along Dusty Road

A Week of Slow Travel in Brittany

Travel bloggers Andrew + Emily from Along Dusty Roads share the route they took on a 7-day road trip through Brittany to give information and inspiration for your own travels by rental car in this beautiful region.

Suggestion for break in
1 week


This route is all about slow travel, disconnecting in nature and by the coast, and meeting the makers, pickers, and sellers of several of Brittany’s most distinctive products. Starting and ending in the northern city of Saint Malo – ideal for those who wish to take the ferry over from England – the itinerary begins with cycle rides along an epic stretch of coastline, before heading south to explore in and around the smalls towns, islands, and castles of the Golfe du Morbihan. In between, there’s even time to take yourself out on a tranquil boat ride along the Nantes-Brest Canal. Use it as a helpful guide to shape your own route or to simply get a flavour of some of the experiences available in Brittany!

Coastal Cycle Rides, Cap Fréhel

We picked up our rental and travelled west along the northern coast, stopping off for coffee and lunch before collecting two electric bicycles from Isabelle at Camping Les Salines. From her lovely little countryside campsite, you can join a sign-posted cycle trail which leads through fields and several pretty villages, and takes you alongside a cluster of gorgeous sandy, wild beaches in the Cap d’Erquy and Cap Fréhel headlands (Sables d’Or Les Pins, Anse du Croc, and Plage de La Fosse). If you don’t have time to hang out at the beaches, you absolutely should not miss a stop at the viewpoint to the left of Anse du Croc.

The half-way/turnaround point of our self-guided coastal cycle ride is the imposing lighthouse at Cap Fréhel, from where you can walk to viewpoints of the dramatic cliffs and crashing waves.

One thing you’ll quickly discover is that nobody does lighthouses quite like Brittany. There are so many distinctive ones scattered along the coast, and Cap Fréhel is a wonderful example of the style. Wes Anderson vibes anyone? We certainly think so!

  • We recommend factoring in 3-4 hours for the cycle, but you could take the whole day if you want to savour the beaches as well as the scenery.
  • You can also arrive at the lighthouse by car or on foot along the GR34 – a popular multi-mile route along Brittany’s coast – and buy a ticket to head up to the very top of the lighthouse for stellar views along the expansive coast.
  • We recommend stopping first in Erquy for a stroll along the beach and lunch in one of the many crêperies by the sea and the pretty red-and-white lighthouse. Consider La table de Jeanne, Les Terre-Neuvas, and Karma.

Foraging for Oysters, Arzon and Séné

After a slow breakfast, we drove for nearly three hours to the southern coast of Brittany to meet Armelle outside the port town of Arzon.

A local guide, she’s incredibly passionate about foraging and the wonders of the local marine life, and we spent the afternoon with her learning about the importance of the ecosystem and curious creatures you find in the ankle-deep waters at low tide. There’s even the chance to have a quick oyster tasting – and what better way to sample your first one in Brittany than right by the sea!

Afterward, it’s a short drive to the nearby town of Séné for a drink with a view of the water and dinner at the brand-new Chambres d’Hôtes La Bellevue.


  • Oysters from Brittany are revered across France, with about a dozen growing areas in the region. You can of course head out to look for them on your own at low tide, but we’d recommend going with an in-the-know local.
  • Alternatively, you’ll find oysters on the menu at lots of restaurants as well as in local markets, and they should absolutely be on your Brittany bucket list if you’ve never had the chance to try them before. It’s quite a particular taste and texture to get used to, but lots of people clearly learn to love it!
  • Le Moulin de Pen Castel, the 12th century mill where we met Armelle, is a photogenic spot even if you’re not out looking for oysters. It’s also an excellent place to appreciate the significance of the tides in Brittany, with the water shifting by as much as 14 metres between high and low.

Cider Tasting in Séné & Visiting Vannes

You’re going to see locally-made cider served everywhere in Brittany, and today’s the day you’re going to understand why.

The first stop today is La Maison du Cidre, the museum and shop of ‘Cidrerie Nicol’ a family-owned artisanal cider maker since 1928. It offers offer daily tours through a small museum that traces the history of  Breton cider production from rudimentary machines to technological advances and ends – perhaps most importantly – with a tasting. Be sure to sample Royal Guillevic, France’s only Label Rouge cider, and commonly referred to as the champagne of Brittany. It’s delicious!

Once you’ve bought some bottles for home, it’s time to head across to the market town of Vannes. Film-set pretty with medieval streets and colourful half-timbered houses, it’s the capital of the Golfe du Morbihan and the ideal place to saunter around, eat some good food, and indulge in a bit of browsing at the excellent range of independent shops.

  • Biscuiterie des Vénètes is right next door to La Maison du Cidre, and absolutely worth popping into. Started by a husband and wife team passionate about doing things properly, their on-site biscuit factory focuses on local raw ingredients and produces naturally delicious sweet and savoury treats. There’s also home-roasted coffee and a fantastic deli!
  • You may be in cider country, but one place you shouldn’t miss in Vannes is the Awen Brewery. Opened in 2019, this micro-brewery and popular restaurant is incredibly proud of its Breton heritage and is the only place to try their beers, as well as guest beers from other French micro-breweries. If in doubt, order a flight of six beers to find your favourite!

A night on an island, Ile d’Arz

After breakfast, we set off on the ferry to Ile d’Arz, one of 42 islands within the Golfe du Morbihan largely unpopulated archipelago. This small, largely flat island is a dream for nature lovers and walkers, somewhere to pedal unhurriedly and picnic on fresh oysters, learn to sail, disconnect, or forget yourself in the pastoral tranquility.

A popular location for a summer getaway, it boasts a number of wild beaches that fill on a sunny day, but as our visit was in late September, we chose instead to focus on the 17 kilometre walking train that traces a path along the circumference of the island.

The coastal trail will take you to pretty much all points of interest and the most captivating viewpoints and corners, including the Berno Moulin and through Le Bourg. It’s not a challenging walk, taking four hours or so to complete at a reasonable pace, so there’s ample time to include stops for a swim (in the warmer months) or a picnic to admire the view.

  • Alternatively, you could hire a bicycle for your stay and navigate the island on two wheels. For environmental as well as safety reasons, cyclists are not able to access many parts of the walking trail, but it’s easy enough to park up the bike and take a detour on foot. There are two bicycle rental businesses – L’Arz et La Manière, and Arz Location Veloc’Ouest – conveniently situated right by the port, with half-day, full-day, and multi-day rentals available.
  • For a true taste of Breton, be sure to enjoy on of the excellent buckwheat galettes at Crêperie Les Iles. Wherever you eat on the island, it’s a good idea to reserve ahead!
  • Plage de Brouel and Plage de Bilhervé are generally considered the island’s best beaches in summer.

Sarzeau, Conquer The Castle

This trip is all about slow travel, so you’ll be pleased to know that there is no rush to leave today. Instead, we suggest you take the morning to relax in your accommodation, take a short walk to one of the nearby beaches, or sbaimply follow a trail that you didn’t explore yesterday before catching the regular little ferry back to the mainland.

Our next stop, after collecting the car back in Séné, is the impressive Château de Suscinio. This imposing 800-year-old castle near the Atlantic ocean was once the residence for Dukes of Brittany, and the castle has been fantastically restored to house displays and exhibits on medieval life and power dynamics in the region, as well as tales of King Arthur. If you’re travelling with kids, this a place they’ll especially enjoy exploring, with various activities put on especially for younger visitors.

  • Two excellent places to grab a leisurely lunch are BaraBreizh in Saint-Armel or La Taverne in Sarzeau, whilst Le Bistronôme is a good option for dinner.
  • The wider estate around Château de Suscinio has several scenic free-to-access walking trails in forest and field, with opportunities to spot wild birds in the marshes and lagoons. The early morning reflections on the pond are a delight, whilst a local told us that the sunset on the nearby Plage Suscinio is stunning.

Canal Boat Adventures

Our next stop is the delightful little town of Malestroit. Built along the banks of the River Oust, wandering its cobbled streets lined with timber framed houses is like taking a step back in time. There are an abundance of independent shops within which to browse, but be sure to set aside an hour or so to enjoy a glass of wine, local cider or leisurely lunch in one of the several charming restaurants in the main square.

The next stop – La Gacilly – is located a short 30-minute drive north, where we met up with Bretagne Bateaux Bois to hire a traditional Pénette cabanée (a wooden boat, powered by an electric engine). You can follow the canal for up to 12 kilometres, basking in the idyllic scenes as you go. Simply take it slow, and enjoy a picnic of local treats in the sun.

Once you’ve returned your car, it’s onwards along country roads to Léhon, the final location of the day, and your bed for the night.

  • La Gacilly is the home of Yves Rocher, and visitors are invited to explore the brand’s story through the immersive ‘Maison de Marque’.
  • If visiting La Gacilly between June and September, art-lovers will be delighted to find that during these months, the village transforms into an open-air gallery, with a different theme each year.
  • It may be tempting to spend all day enjoying the charms of the River Oust, but we’d recommend getting to Léhon whilst you still have daylight. Founded in 850, this small town  is one of France’s ‘Petites Cités de Caractère’, and is as charming as they come. If you have time, be sure to explore the impressive ruins of Lehon’s 12th century castle.

Heading north: Saint-Malo

The final stop on this itinerary is Brittany’s most famous city, Saint-Malo. Famed for its stunning natural harbour and some of the best sandy beaches along the Emerald Coast, it’s not difficult to understand why during the summer months this remains a must-visit spot in the region.

After a bracing walk along the expansive windswept Grande Plage – the width of which varies considerably between high and low tide – you’ll find yourself wonderfully lost within a beautiful maze of medieval streets, located within the 12th century old city walls (an area also known as ‘Intra-Muros). Don’t miss the stunning Gothic and Romanesque Cathedral, and the incredible views offered by climbing atop the ramparts – especially those looking out across the water and towards the wild islands of Le Grand Bé and Le Petit Bé (both of which can be visited on foot at low tide), and the imposing Fort National.

  • Vegetarians and vegans absolutely must have dinner at Annadata. With a limited and alternating menu focussing on seasonality, this popular restaurant provides and excellent alternative to fish and meat-heavy menus elsewhere in the region.
  • Photographers and those that appreciate a good view will love to catch sunset overlooking Saint-Malo’s natural sea pool (replete with the most photogenic of diving boards). If you’re brave, take a dip in the cool waters of Gulf of Saint-Malo or otherwise enjoy a final glass of local tipple from the nearby beach bar.

Focus on

In a world where we’re all trying to reduce our carbon footprint, being able to hop on the overnight ferry from the UK to St-Malo in northern Brittany is a real plus for those thinking of visiting France. There are regular ferries from Portsmouth, and we had a good night’s sleep in our private cabin, leaving us refreshed and ready to hit the road as soon as we docked in the morning.

Where to sleep

Hôtel Les Charmettes

Located a 30-minute walk from the walled city, this hotel is ideal for those visiting in the summer months, with the entrance mere steps from the sand.

Les Charmettes

Léhontine Guesthouse

Another recently opened accommodation, Lodges de la Vigne is a collection of Scandi-styled wooden lodges with great eco credentials, and wood-fired hot tubs. Each have self-catering facilities, making it an ideal place to stay in the off-season months when many of the restaurants close.


Lodges de la Vigne

Another recently opened accommodation, Lodges de la Vigne is a collection of Scandi-styled wooden lodges with great eco credentials, and wood-fired hot tubs. Each have self-catering facilities, making it an ideal place to stay in the off-season months when many of the restaurants close.

Lodges de La Vigne

Along Dusty Roads

We’re Andrew & Emily. Our story began late one night and early one morning around a kitchen table in our rented flat in East London, after too many gins and too long putting too many dreams on hold.  The plan? To have an adventure. Travel is the thing that makes the two of us feel the most alive. It sets our senses on fire. It is responsible for changing our lives for the better. Without adventures or a curiosity to venture toward somewhere new and different to home, we would be rootless and lost. Travel is what makes us happy. We created Along Dusty Roads because we wanted to help people travel more + travel better.


Official website of tourism in Brittany