Bienvenue à Bretagne—the most northwestern region of France, home to beach resort towns along the English Channel.
My boyfriend and I had been planning on visiting the Bretagne region together—specifically Saint-Malo and Mont Saint-Michel—since last fall. We were both happy to check off this trip off of our travel bucket list this spring.
Even though late March is the shoulder season for visiting Saint-Malo, there was still plenty to see…
Each region of France possesses its own unique culture—Bretagne is no different.
… It may be argued that Bretons think of themselves as completely separate from France and practically consider Bretagne like another country.
Bretons are proud of their countryside villages in the fields and dotted along the Emerald Coast with their sailboats in the harbor. They are proud of the lasting vestiges of the old Breton language, now only spoken by those who are old enough to remember it or passed through older family members back in the years. And, of course, Bretons love their cider, which is locally sourced from apple orchards that have been in their families for generations.
I know that I’m doing a poor job of doing the Breton spirit justice, but if you have the honor and privilege of visiting Bretagne for yourself, you will understand the fierce pride of the region.
Where to Stay
As usual, we stayed in an Airbnb. We opted for a studio apartment in Saint Servan, a neighborhood within 15-minute walking distance to Saint-Malo city center. The apartment is conveniently located near shops and restaurants along the Saint Servan port.
It’s important to note here that we did a lot of driving this trip—we did not rely on public transport so it was not a priority for us to worry about getting around.
To clarify, there is the city of Saint-Malo—then there’s the arrondissement of Saint-Malo within the Ille-Vilaine department that consists of 43 towns.
Located in the northwestern region of France, Saint-Malo is known for its naval history of pirates and explorers. Today, Saint-Malo is an international sailing capital and hosts La Route du Rhum, a solo transatlantic yacht race held every 4 years ever since the late 1970s.
What to Do & Where to Eat
- Walk through the ramparts and take in the view
- Get crêpes and cider at Le Mole
- Experience “fait maison” seafood dishes at Ancrage
- Drive to the northern end of Saint-Malo to Le Bénétin, a gastronomic restaurant awaiting a hotly anticipated Michelin star rating, and enjoy the market prix fixe menu while overlooking the sea
I remember seeing the posters of Mont Saint Michel hanging in my French classrooms during middle school and high school. I remember how it looked like a floating castle in the sky with the mist and high tide, the way the posters captured the early morning light waking up the abbey so perfectly…
As we drove on la Route de la Baie and spotted Mont Saint-Michel slowly rise from the distance, visiting the isolated fortress exceeded my nostalgic expectations.
What to Do & Where to Eat
- Walk up the ramparts, tour the abbey, and take in those views!
- Splurge on the best omelet in the world at La Mère Poulard
Cancale is known for one thing: oysters. The oyster beds extend far out in the bay at an impressive distance—stand on the dock and you’ll see the beds continue for kilometers.
You may not need a lot of time to visit Cancale, but be sure to eat the oysters! We opted for eating oysters from the market and enjoying the sea and sunshine outside by the lighthouse.
Named as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Saint Suliac is a sleepy harbor village nestled along the Emerald Coast.
It is a very small village, so there isn’t much to do except stroll the cobbled streets, admire the beautiful stone homes, and stop at Boucanier et cie for apéro (and maybe even linger around for dinner).
A blog post on Bretagne would be incomplete without a trip to a real cider farm.
My boyfriend and I had noticed that several restaurants we had been to served the same organic cider. We were told that the local producer wasn’t too far from Saint-Malo and that we would be able to call ahead and visit the farm.
When we were leaving Saint-Malo, we drove to the Ferme de Beau Soleil in Matignon to buy a case of cider to take back to the apartment.
We had the pleasure of being shown around the cider farm by Jean-Louis—he explained to us the processes involved with harvesting the apples, making the apple juice, fermentation, and bottling. It was clear how much passion and care goes into each bottle of cider from Ferme de Beau Soleil!
Looking back on this blog post, it’s clear that we did a lot during our long weekend in Saint-Malo! I am so happy to have visited Bretagne and had another new experience with French culture outside of the Paris region.