Brittany

Ille-et-Vilaine

Inhabited by corsairs and adventurers, Ille-et-Vilaine is famous for the villages of Saint-Malo and Dinard, the magical forest of Paimpont and the oysters of Cancale.
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This small buffer region with Normandy was for centuries a stormy area, beaten by privateers, adventurers, painters and merchants who had Saint-Malo as their base and who made the coastal resorts famous and rich in splendour.

Inland, on the other hand, the great feudal dynasties built marvellous fortress castles that still dot the countryside today, such as Combourg, Fougères and Vitré.

Travelling through this area you can admire beautiful landscapes and take a dip into the past while enjoying delicious seafood cuisine, browsing the markets, exploring the beautiful canals from Dinard and visiting the monuments of Rennes.

Saint-Malo

Founded as a city of corsairs with an ancient pirate tradition, it has preserved over the centuries a marked spirit of independence and belligerent autonomy, discernible in the imposing fortifications jutting out over the ocean that give it a proud and majestic air. Unfortunately, especially in the summer months, Saint-Malo is taken by storm by tourists and the high concentration of bars, restaurants and cafés make its visit noisy and often difficult.

In spite of this, the play of the tides, the splendid location on the façade and the old-world charm make this fortress town staggeringly beautiful.

The heart of the city is Intra-Muros, the fortified citadel: you must lose yourself in the many narrow streets to discover the most picturesque views, where you will find the luxurious merchants’ palaces, the cathedral and the imposing ramparts.

Paimpont Forest

235380 Paimpont, Francia

The ancient and mysterious Paimpont forest, also known as the Forest of Brocéliande, is steeped in legends revolving around the mythological figures of Merlin, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

The beauty of these forests, with their small lakes, streams, moss-covered rocks and curiously shaped stones, frames the magical tales that have always made it a pilgrimage destination for lovers of the genre and fantasy.

Dinard

Dinard is a sophisticated seaside resort town, enchanting with its surrounding cliffs and splendid period residences, to the point of being nicknamed Nice of the North: so charming that English aristocrats chose it as their favourite holiday destination in the 19th century.

To immerse yourself a little in this atmosphere of yesteryear, just admire the striped tents on the beaches, the restaurants and the elegant seafronts.

Rennes

Although the ‘capital’ of Brittany is not much loved by the French, it is a very lively city with a deep-rooted Breton identity, proud and proud, with a beautiful medieval centre and a strong presence of young people and students.

The historical centre of Rennes will give you all the splendours of medieval architecture: the district around the Saint-Pierre cathedral and rue de la Psalette remains intact from the great fire of 1720.

In addition to the medieval city, there is a classical Rennes, rich and majestic like the Parliament of Brittany, the town hall, the elegant buildings of rue Saint-Georges and the church of Saint-Germain.

Cancale

Cancale, a picturesque town set in a beautiful bay resembling the shape of a seashell, is a paradise for oyster lovers. In fact, if you arrive in town at low tide, you can see the neat rows of oyster farms that are the royal dish here.

Everything here is reminiscent of this renowned seafood, from the many small restaurants to the fishermen’s stalls serving many varieties of shellfish to the small museum dedicated to them.

Don’t miss a trip to the harbour stalls: here you can taste the freshest oysters in all of France, big and fleshy, straight from the fishermen’s stalls. It is a unique experience not only for the palate but also for your eyes.

Dol-de-Bretagne

Dol-de-Bretagne is nestled in sweet countryside and is a quiet little town, an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area. What makes Dol-de-Bretagne particularly interesting is its stunning Gothic cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Brittany, which, with its huge portal and 93-metre-long nave, will enchant all art lovers.

To discover the medieval character of the city, walk along the Grand-rue and rue Lejamptel, penetrating open courtyards surrounded by beautiful half-timbered houses. For a nice walk, take the promenade des Douves from which you will have a magnificent view of the Dol marsh.

Two kilometres to the south you will also find the largest minhir in Bretanga, the Menhir du Champ-Dolent.

Fougères

Fougères is a medieval town overlooked by an imposing castle-fortress with crenellated ramparts, moat and no fewer than 11 conical-roofed towers from which you can enjoy a splendid view.

Don’t miss a tour of the old town starting from rue Nationale, passing through the upper town with the munucipio and the church of Saint-Léonard and from its gardens down to the lower town, in the old quarter of the tanners and dyers, who used the river water and where you will still find wooden houses and one of the most beautiful butcher’s shops in Brittany, an original medieval shop. The rue des Vaux walk along the ramparts is also very beautiful.

For a dip in nature, head to the Fougéres forest where you can follow several walking itineraries, from one that will take you to the discovery of ancient megaliths to that of old castles.

In early July, the town comes alive with the Voix de Pays with music in all the bars and squares of the town.

Vitré

This beautiful mediaeval centre will take you back in time, in a plunge into history thanks to its picturesque streets and fairytale castle. Don’t miss a tour of the old town, which has miraculously remained intact and has an extraordinary architectural heritage. In particular, loiter around rue d’Embas, rue Baudraire and rue Notre Dame.

Also worth a visit is the large Monday market and the small vintners’ market, le panier du samedì in rue de la Poterie on Saturday mornings. If you have time to make a diversion, about 30 km south of Vitré you can admire one of the region’s most fascinating megalithic monuments, the Roche aux Fées, the fairy rock, an 11-metre-long burial chamber. Ask for directions because it is not properly signposted.

Combourg

The romantic village of Combourg can be a strategic point to visit the gentle Breton countryside between picturesque villages and imposing castles. Just like the castle of Combourg, where the writer Chateaubriand lived, which looks like something straight out of a fairy tale book, with its sharp towers and wonderful position on the river.

In addition to the writer’s story, the magnificent gardens richly adorned with flowers are worth a visit.

Bourbansais Castle

10La Bourbansais, 35720 Pleugueneuc, Francia

If you love exotic animals or are travelling with children, it can be a fun stop at the most beautiful safari park in France, especially since it is framed by the splendid backdrop of the Bourbansais Castle.

In addition to visiting the park from April to September, you can enjoy falconry shows and a simulated hunting party with 50 dogs.

Bécherel

The town, which dominates the upper valley of the Rance River, is a former stronghold for military purposes that retains traces of the different eras that marked its turbulent history.

Linen and hemp made Bécherel ‘s fortune in the 16th and 18th centuries. Today, this well-preserved old town with a marvellous architectural heritage has become the first City of Books in France and the centre is teeming with colourful and original bookshops all worth photographing.

Map

In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Itinerary in Ille et Vilaine

Route: 300 km | Duration: 3 days | Recommended period: June/July

This 3-day itinerary allows you to see the best places in the region without wasting time and without missing a spot. It is ideal for those who have to undertake a long trip and have their days limited.

We suggest you take advantage of the magnificent opportunities to go for walks, relax on the beach or visit the magnificent châteaux.

  1. Saint-Malo
  2. Dinard
  3. Combourg – Fougères – Vitré – Château de Bourbansais (or Rennes)

Insights

Saint Malo

Saint Malo

Called the pirate city, Saint Malo enchants with its pirate charm: a journey back in time with its ramparts, fortified citadel and views of the stormy sea.
Rennes

Rennes

Rennes is a lively city with a deep-rooted Breton identity, proud and proud: it boasts a stunning medieval old town with an incredible number of half-timbered houses.
Paimpont Forest

Paimpont Forest

The ancient and mysterious Brocéliande forest is steeped in legends about Merlin and King Arthur: centuries-old oaks, fairy lakes, Druidic sites and enchanting forest paths await you.
Cancale

Cancale

This delightful Breton village, overlooking the Costa Smeralda, is a paradise for oyster lovers, which can be tasted right on the beach.
Dinard

Dinard

A seaside resort that became famous during the Belle Epoque period, Dinard is a charming town overlooking the green bays of the Emerald Coast.