No matter which region you choose to explore in France, there are always beautiful towns and villages to visit. Brittany is no different. Although most of the obvious things to do in Brittany are related to the ocean, Brittany also offers a strong heritage and culture. Here’s my (non-exhaustive!) selection of the most beautiful towns and prettiest villages in Brittany.
I’ve ordered the list by region so that you can more easily find a lovely town or village to visit near you. The numbers are not my order of preference; they are useful to locate the place on the map at the end of the article.
The most beautiful towns and villages in Ille et Villaine (north)
I hesitated to include Rennes in my list of beautiful towns and villages in Brittany. It’s the biggest city in Brittany, and it doesn’t have the atmosphere most people look for when looking for beautiful towns and villages. However, if you wander in the old town, you’ll find beautiful squares and buildings with many restaurants and lively terraces in summer.
The medieval city of Vitré is at the junction of three French regions: Brittany, Normandy and Anjou. The streets of Vitré are very charming, with a castle, half-timbered houses and rich residences.
Located at the limit of Brittany and Normandy, Fougères is home to Europe’s biggest medieval fortress. The beautiful castle will take you on a journey to learn more about the Dukes of Brittany. Also, Fougere’s beautiful belfry is one of the oldest in Brittany. If you prefer to relax in a more natural setting, you’ll find two lovely gardens not far from the town centre, and there’s also an ancient forest with megalithic sites just near the town.
The village of Combourg was made famous by Chateaubriand. The famous French poet lived there from 1777, so Combourg is seen sometimes referred to as the “cradle of romanticism”. Those who read its book Mémoires d’Outre Tombe will find it particularly interesting.
There are lovely views of the castle from the lake, and the city centre is made of beautiful houses with noble granite and half-timbered façades. We enjoyed our time there, but I wouldn’t recommend visiting Combourg if your time in Brittany is limited or if you’re not interested in learning more about Chateaubriand. There are more beautiful villages in the region.
4. Saint Malo
Saint Malo is one of the most famous towns in Brittany as it is located not far from the Mont Saint Michel, the second most visited French attraction. The historic city is beautiful and lively with shops, restaurants and cafés. The walk around the ramparts (about two kilometres) offers wonderful views of the coast, the 18th-century island forts and the port of Saint Malo. You can climb to the top of the castle to get stunning views of the area too.
If you have time, take a detour to Saint Suliac, only 10 kilometres away, on your way to Dinan. Saint Suliac has a lovely port on the estuary of the river La Rance.
The most beautiful towns and villages in Cotes d’Armor (north)
Many have said Dinan is the prettiest town they’ve visited in Brittany. And I may agree!
As you explore the narrow streets of the medieval walled town, you feel that you’ve travelled back in time. The ramparts – the oldest ones in Brittany – are impressive. You can climb to the top of the 40-meter high Tour de l’Horloge to get wonderful views over Dinan and the region. The lovely port on the river and the 40-meter high viaduct are not to be missed. Make sure you also check out Rue du Petit-Fort and rue de Jerzual, which you’ll see on many postcards in Brittany.
I admit that I have never visited Moncontour. But it is on the list of France’s most beautiful villages, so I thought it would be logical to include it on my list of Brittany’s most beautiful villages. Like a few others on this list, the ramparts and the half-timbered houses and bourgeois residences create a charming village.
The village of Plougrescant is not as charming as the other ones on the list of pretty villages in Brittany. But it is home to one of the most picturesque houses you’ll ever see, so it is worth the detour. It used to be on many postcards from Brittany before the owner of the house forbade it.
Treguier has a lovely old district with stunning houses from the 15th and 16th centuries. Its beautiful cathedral is an imposing and interesting masterpiece with three towers, each with a different architectural style. The small harbour on the Gaudy River is lovely too.
9. Lannion and Ploumanac’h
I hesitated to include Lannion on this list of the most beautiful towns in Brittany. It’s mentioned on some lists, so I thought it could be helpful to share our experience in Lannion. We spent one night there and had a very quick look at the town centre.
In the heart of the historic town, you will love the sculpted decorations on the slate houses and the beautiful half-timbered houses. The manors have towers attached to the front; they house spiral staircases. Although the few houses looked lovely, we found there wasn’t much to see compared to many other villages and towns in Brittany. It’s worth a quick detour if you’re passing by, but I wouldn’t recommend specifically organising a visit to Lannion.
The tourist information website praises the views from the Brélévenez church at the top of 140 steps (but you can also drive there). We weren’t really impressed.
It takes approximately 20 minutes to drive from Lannion to Ploumanac’h, near Perros Guirec, which was named French people’s favourite village in 2015. I don’t find the village itself particularly interesting: it’s a small beach town with a small port like many others in Brittany. However, the natural Pink Granit Coast there is stunning if you’re looking for impressive scenery rather than lovely building.
The most beautiful towns and villages in Finistere (west)
Roscoff is an interesting detour if you’re on the northern coast of Finistere. A 3.5-kilometre heritage circuit will take you to all the must-sees around town. From the port of Roscoff, ferries leave to go to Ireland, so all interpretative signs are also in English.
Between the river and the sea, Landerneau has remarkable charms you won’t find in other beautiful villages in Brittany. The most notable building is probably the Rohan bridge, built in the 16th century. It is the only bridge in Europe that still has people living on it.
Some say Locronan has lost its charms and has become a village made for tourists. It’s true that tourism is driving the rhythm of this small village, and you won’t find many locals around. But it’s still one of the prettiest villages in Brittany. It looks like time has stopped there, and the atmosphere from the old, cobbled, pedestrian-only streets makes you feel like you’ve just entered a movie set. I really enjoyed my time in Locronan.
With lovely squares and pedestrian streets in the city centre, Quimper is a lovely town in Brittany. You won’t be able to miss the Cathedral Saint Corentin when visiting Quimper. Indeed, its spires can be seen from almost every street. It took more than three centuries to build it.
Quimper is known to be the cultural heart of Brittany. So if you like museums, allow enough time to visit all that Quimper has to offer.
The walled town of Concarneau (Concarneau Ville Close) is quite extraordinary and one of the most visited sites in Brittany. Indeed, it even gets a bit too crowded in summer, so plan to go there early if you are visiting Brittany during the peak season. Concarneau Ville Close is located on a small island accessible via two bridges. It’s made of narrow streets with beautiful houses and shops. You can take a walk around the ramparts for spectacular views.
The fishing port of Concarneau is one of the most active ports in France. You may find it interesting to watch a fish auction (around 6.30 am) or fishermen unload their catch (around 10 pm).
15. Pont Aven
No one will argue Pont Aven shouldn’t have a spot on a list of the prettiest villages in Brittany. Many artists over the years stayed in Pont Aven and were inspired by its beauty. The famous French painter Paul Gaugin created the Pont Aven School. Those who love art will want to allow time to visit the galleries and museums while in Pont Aven.
Two rivers meet in Quimperlé to create a third one. The narrow cobbled streets and lovely bridges full of flowers are lovely to explore. The Church abbey of Sainte-Croix, built in the 11th century, is at the heart of the beautiful village. Because of the lack of space, the village had to develop on the hill. With the Notre Dame of the Assumption Church at the top, it is sometimes referred to as the “Mont Saint-Michel of the land”. I find the comparison quite exaggerated, but it is still a lovely view.
The most beautiful towns and villages in Morbihan (south)
17. Saint Goustan (Auray)
The port of Saint Goustan and Auray are next to each other and both worth a visit. I reckon Saint Goustan is the most picturesque port in Brittany. You can walk across the four-arch stone bridge from the 13th century to get the best views of this charming village along the river. The cobbled streets and half-timbered facade houses with sailing boats in front make postcard-perfect pictures.
Vannes, the capital of Morbihan, is one of the most beautiful towns in Brittany. It is very enjoyable to explore its multiple facets and atmospheres. The port is very lively with restaurants and bars. Inside the walls, the heart of the medieval city takes you back in time with about 272 heritage-listed buildings in the town. Just outside the walls, it’s a pleasure to have a stroll in the lovely public gardens.
19. Rochefort en Terre
Rochefort en Terre is one of the most visited villages in Brittany. In summer, only pedestrians can access the lovely cobbled streets. Beautiful, colourful flowers always add to the charms of this pretty village where 16th-century half-timbered houses are mixed with Renaissance buildings. From the castle, the view of the roofs and their different shapes is interesting.
Rochefort en Terre was named French people’s favourite village in 2016.
Malestroit was built in the 11th century between two arms of the Oust River. Even when you go inland, all the beautiful villages in Brittany have strong links to the water. Place du Bouffay is a perfect place to sit down and admire the surrounding buildings. Malestroit is located on the Nantes-Brest Canal, and Josselin is just a bit further north.
With a beautiful castle and old town next to a lovely canal, it’s not surprising to find Josselin on the list of the most beautiful towns in Brittany. You’ll find pretty medieval half-timbered houses in the Sainte-Croix district, and you can climb up to the top of the bell tower of the Gothic Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier to get panoramic views of the area. Although it’s at the end of my list, it is one of my favourite villages to visit in Brittany.
If you continue north on the Nantes-Brest Canal, you will reach Pontivy. This town in the middle of Brittany used to be called Napoleonville. It is a must-see for those passionate about history and Napoleon Bonaparte, who wanted to turn Pontivy into the capital of the region.