Escape to one of France's most beguiling regions on this 5-day jaunt through coastal Brittany. A direct train ride from Paris takes you to the atmospheric walled city of Saint-Malo, where you'll sample local delicacies like crêpes and oysters and immerse yourself in Breton culture. Continue to the elegant resort of Dinard, explore the sweeping white sand beaches of Concarneau, then turn inland from the wild Brittany coast to end your journey among the half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets of Quimper.

Highlights

  • Explore the history-steeped walls of Saint-Malo
  • Sample local specialties like crêpes, oysters & cider 
  • Tour the chic coastal resort of Dinard
  • Relax on the windswept beaches of Concarneau
  • Discover Breton culture & history in Quimper

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris, Train to Saint-Malo  Saint-Malo
Day 2 Explore Dinan & Dinard Saint-Malo
Day 3 Drive to Concarneau & Afternoon at the Beach Concarneau
Day 4 Drive to Quimper, the Heart of Brittany Quimper
Day 5 Train to Paris, Au Revoir!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris, Train to Saint-Malo 

Saint-Malo at sunrise
The fortified Breton city of Saint-Malo

Your journey starts in Paris, where you'll make your way to the Gare Montparnasse station and catch a direct four-hour train to Saint-Malo on the wild Brittany coast. This atmospheric walled city boasts a rich seafaring culture, with centuries of history tied to the ocean. There's a fierce sense of regional identity here, with mottos like "Neither French nor Britton, I am from Saint-Malo." A long-time pirate haunt, the “Cité Corsaire” has always had an independent streak—even declaring itself an independent republic in 1590.

Get checked in to your hotel, then spend your afternoon exploring the city's cobblestone streets at your own pace. The historic ramparts, which date back to the 11th century, still encircle the city, while 17th-century bastions protect tidal islands nearby. Saint-Malo has several districts, the most popular being Intra Muros or ‘"inside the walls." The tall granite buildings, most of which were restored after being bombed during the war, house an interesting mix of cozy hotels, restaurants to suit all tastes, and shops by the dozen. The Musée de la Ville tells you all you need to know about the town’s history and includes some fascinating maritime objects like the prow of a ship.

Opposite the Old Town are two little islands that can be reached at low tide (heed the warnings or you’ll get stuck!) On one is the Vauban-built Fort National and on the other is the tomb of the writer and politician Chateaubriand, who was born in Saint-Malo in 1768. Along the seafront, long sandy beaches sweep east from the Old Town to the district of Rothéneuf.

For dinner, stay inside the city walls and pick from one of many restaurant options. It's an otherworldly experience to walk through the walled fortifications and narrow cobblestone streets at night, especially if a mist rolls in from the ocean. Stroll through the town to work up an appetite, then sit down for a family meal. If seafood is your thing, you're in luck—there's no shortage of incredible seafood restaurants, from casual neighborhood brasseries to higher-end dining. Follow your nose to open-air cafes (the ones with the striped red and white canopies) for an unforgettable French dinner. 

Day 2: Explore Dinan & Dinard

Traditional mussels with cider
Traditional mussels with cider

 

Today starts with a relaxing breakfast with a view of the ocean. One of the best ways to discover a region is by exploring its gastronomy, and Brittany's history is woven closely with one particular dish: the crêpe. It's a standard local meal, and hearty enough to fill you up for an entire day. 
 
After breakfast, meet with your private guide (a Brittany local), and head out to explore two nearby towns: Dinan and Dinard. Your first stop is Dinan, a medieval town with preserved city ramparts and a large tower built for Duke Jean IV. Together with your private guide, you'll explore the city's architecture and history—including the 14th-century keep in Dinan Castle, the Église Saint-Malo de Dinan's stained glass windows, and the views from the Clock Tower—before exploring artisan workshops and old streets. 

From here, continue back north towards the coast. Your destination is Dinard, a town that sits opposite Saint-Malo and is known for its luxurious beaches and outstanding views of the lush Côte d'Émeraude (Emerald Coast). Formerly a humble 19th-century fishing port, the city experienced a resurgence thanks to its popularity with artists and the French bourgeoise. 

In the afternoon, your guide will recommend the best local brasserie for fresh oysters and a glass of white wine. Spend a couple of hours savoring your meal—after all, what's more French than taking your time over lunch?—before spending the rest of the day browsing boutiques and shops in Dinard. Return to Saint-Malo in the evening. 

Day 3: Drive to Concarneau & Afternoon at the Beach

The moat surrounding Concarneau
This morning, pick up your rental car and start your road trip to Concarneau in southern Brittany, a three-hour drive away. 

Arrive around noon, and enjoy lunch along the coast before heading to the beach. The region's wide sandy beaches are a playground for the young and young-at-heart, with lots of options for active families. Build a giant sandcastle, take a trip out to the open ocean on an old sailing boat, spot dolphins and other marine life, go diving, surf the waves, try paddleboarding, or explore the coast on a sea kayak. 

Spend a relaxed afternoon sunbathing and enjoying the weather, or go for a stroll to see the small towns that line the waterfront. Whatever your mood, there's something for everyone to enjoy the day before heading to your hotel in Concarneau for the night. 

Day 4: Drive to Quimper, the Heart of Brittany

Brittany coast
The wild Brittany coast

The south of Brittany is a treasure trove of postcard-perfect villages, and the sister towns of Kerascoët and Kercanic are two of the loveliest. It's impossible to pick, so explore them both on your own this morning. 

The homes here are built in the traditional style, with blue-shuttered granite stone houses covered in slate or thatched roofs and surrounded by bushy hydrangeas. In between the homes you'll find "standing stone houses," with large granite blocks designed to support the buildings. These are protected by the Reconquered Landscape label and are unique within France. After touring the villages, spend some time at the local beach, or rent a bike and explore the Voie Verte N°7, a bike path that links the Atlantic Ocean (in the south) and the Channel (in the north). 

In the afternoon you'll continue to Quimper, the administrative capital of the Finistère department and the cultural heart of Brittany. The town is known for its cathedral, atmospheric Old Town, and museums, but most of all for its annual festival celebrating Breton culture. Get settled into your hotel, then set out on foot to discover this authentic and beguiling city.

Quimper’s most impressive building is its Saint Corentin Cathedral, one of the best examples of Gothic religious architecture in Brittany. Building started in the 12th century and continued at intervals until the 19th century when the two spires were constructed and new stained glass windows were installed. 

West of the cathedral is the atmospheric Old Town, where you’ll find many half-timbered houses dating from the 14th century. The streets are named after old job titles and Place au Beurre, where butter was sold, is one of Quimper’s prettiest locations and a perfect place to stop for a crêpe. The old market hall burned down in 1976 but the new Halles St Francis (open daily) is particularly lively on Saturday mornings.
 
Other points of interest include the Romanesque church of Locmaria, the Château de Lanniron and its 17th and 19th-century grounds, and the Breton Departmental Museum, located in the former Bishop’s Palace.

Day 5: Train to Paris, Au Revoir!

The cobbled streets and half-timbered houses of Quimper

Say your goodbyes to Brittany this morning as drop off your rental car and board a direct train back to the Gare Montparnasse in Paris. From here you'll continue to your onward journey or departure. Au revoir!

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