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Travel in Darley’s Footsteps Exploring Brittany, France
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Travel in Darley’s Footsteps ‑ Exploring Brittany, France

At a glance

Discover Brittany in the footsteps of TV host and travel expert Darley Newman. From medieval St. Malo to the boulders of the Pink Granite Coast, meet Breton people and immerse yourself in the rich culture of this region. Everything about Brittany is distinctive, from its geography to its traditions and its language. The region stands apart from the rest of France—literally, with its long peninsula reaching out 186 miles into the Atlantic. Brittany is a popular destination for French travelers and holds many hidden gems for Americans. This is the perfect getaway for in-the-know travelers and especially those that love France.

Pink Granite Coast

The beauty of the pink rock formations on the Pink Granite Coast around Ploumanac’h, classified as a ‘Grand Site Naturel’, is astounding. Take a hike in the fresh sea air to the Ploumanac’h lighthouse, which is itself comprised of pink granite. Get out on the water with Alexis Deniel, French Champion of Long Board in 2010 and European Champion in 2014. Through the Ponant Surf School, Alexis guides you on stand up paddleboards, a great way to get up close to the boulders and get active in Brittany. Head to Alexis’ hip café apres paddleboarding, Perroz Sea Side, for a latte or healthy avocado salad.

Catch sunset along the Pink Granite Coast with a glass of wine in hand from your balcony at the Hotel Castle Beau Site, located right on a beautiful beach. With a restaurant on site, you may not want to leave, but take the time to explore around this hotel, as coastal walking opportunities abound.

The Forts and Caps

From the famous fishing port of Paimpol to the majestic headlands of Cap Fréhel and Cap d’Erquy, here you’ll discover a land steeped in great food, great beauty, and lots of excitement. Don’t miss impressive Fort La Latte, a castle located in a remarkable setting on a rocky headland. Used as a location for a number of films, Fort-la-Latte dates back to the 14th century castle and was later adapted and used as a military fort to protect the coastline. Visit the Cap Frehel Lighthouse for views over the Emerald Coast and the Channel Islands and take a walk along La ville Berneuf, one of the widest beaches in St-Brieuc’s Bay.

For a truly unique experience, tour Château de Bienassis, a 15th Century castle and home to Pierre Yves Huguet, along with his wife, children, horses, ducks and the family dog. Surrounded by a moat and mighty walls, Bienassis is a registered historical monument, and an interesting look at historic and modern life in Brittany.

Golf, Sailing and the Coast

Get active in Pléneuf-Val-André, a glorious seaside course for golf lovers. This is a clifftop public course has 17 holes from which you can see the sea and there’s also one hole that’s been rated as one of the top 100 in the world. Not into golf? Go sailing with the Nautical Club of Lancieux or enjoy sand surfing on the beach. Head to Erquy for scallps and relaxing beaches, as well as great hiking trials along the coast. It’s said that way back in Celtic times, the prominent point of the Cap d’Erquy was used as a lookout post along the coast. In fact, traces of a Celtic defensive encampment have been unearthed.

You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy hiking or sailing in Brittany. Those with no prior experience can take lessons in sailing a catamaran with the Nautical Club of Lancieux. The hiking trails along Brittany’s coast by Erquy are relatively easy, too, making them accessible to travelers of all skill levels.

Dinard and Cancale with your next nights in Saint Malo

This chic seaside resort of Dinard is all about the glamour of yesteryear with glorious villas and beautiful beaches. Admire the grandiose villas, some of which you can rent, built by visiting British tourists in the 19th century, and follow their lead in sampling the wide sandy beaches along the coastline. Head to the daily morning market in the Halles de la Concorde, or on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings the market in Place Crolard. During the summer (early April to early September) there is also an antiques market in Dinard, all day Sunday at Esplanade de la Halle.
Step outside Dinard and explore the little village of Cancale, where oyster farmers sell their salty harvest next to the sea. Check out the oyster farms at low tide and buy some fresh oysters at the market or dine in one of the many restaurants in Cancale.

Look for kouign-amann in the markets in Brittany, especially Dinard, and consider purchasing something with Brittany’s signature stripes on it. Stop by CastelBrac, a magnificent 1930s villa that looks like a Scottish castle overlooking Prieuré Bay, for a drink, dinner or to stay the night while in Dinard.

Saint Malo

Walking through the cobbled streets of St Malo’s old town feels like you’ve stepped back in time—this popular destination offers visitors an authentic glimpse into Brittany’s seafaring past. Enjoy the best crêpes of Brittany in Saint Malo at Breizh Cafe, along with lots of choices for cider. Across the street from Briezh Cafe, explore the rich wonders of some of the best butter I’ve ever tasted at Le Beurre Bordier. Discover the secrets of typically Breton kouign-amann pastries, called the “fattiest pastries in Europe” at Maison Galland, before going sailing with Coastal Sensations (Sensations Littoral) with local Yann Perraud.

While in Saint Malo, check into the Le Grand Be and splurge with a meal by the sea at Restaurant Le Bénétin, located by the cliffs of Rotheneuf.

Rennes

This charming medieval city represents some of the finest architecture in Brittany with its half-timbered houses, galettes, and rolling parks. Rennes soaring cathedral mixes with stylish boutiques and charming cafes. A large ex-pat and student population lives here, keeping the city vibrant and fresh. Feast your eyes on the Lices Market, one of France’s biggest fresh produce markets. Its location in the Place des Lices is alive activity as local farmers and market gardeners sell their produce at this market that has been around since Medieval times.

It’s easy to travel to and from Rennes to Paris via high speed train or a short flight. Those who like to shop will definitely want to leave time to explore, as well as shop for great cheese and chocolate in Rennes.

Focus on

  • Saint Malo is the setting for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “All the Light We Cannot See” by is American author Anthony Doerr. Bring a copy with you on your Brittany trip for further inspiration! Make sure to stay at Hotel de Diane on Sables d’Or beach, an Anglo-Breton style hotel that’s among the first six hotels constructed in 1925 in this characteristic style that defines its unique personality.

Darley Newman

Darley Newman is a media entrepreneur, TV host, writer and travel expert. She has channeled her passions for travel and storytelling into successful multi-platform series and distinctive media brands. She is the creator, producer and host of Emmy Award-winning “Equitrekking” and “Travels with Darley” on PBS, Amazon Prime, Verizon Digital and networks in over 85 nations. In addition to five Daytime Emmy Award nominations, she’s received the North American Travel Journalist Award and Caribbean Tourism Organization Award for Best Travel Broadcast, the Inspiring Woman Award from Women in Philanthropy and Leadership, and two Telly Awards. Recognized in Forbes for her “PBS Travel Empire,” Newman’s adventures include traversing one of the world’s largest salt pans in Africa, free diving in South Korea, horseback riding with cowboys in Canada and skiing with Olympians across the USA.

Official website of tourism in Brittany
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