Most road trips in Brittany will go around the coast. Brittany is famous for its stunning coastline and everything there seems to be linked to the sea. This
Don’t get me wrong. I love the coast, and most of my
It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the history and the legends of the region, and also the local food.
Here’s the inland Brittany road trip itinerary we took.
You’ll find the map at the end of the post.
We were staying in Pontivy, so it is the start and the end of this Brittany road trip. Pontivy is ideally located in the heart of Brittany. From there, you’re not far from all the places in Brittany. You’ll need to drive a bit, but you’ll have an uncountable number of possible day trips to explore the entire region – inland or on the coast. Plus, it’s way more peaceful (and cheaper) than staying on the coast.
Pontivy is a charming town along the Blavet river. My father even thinks it’s one of the prettiest towns in Brittany. Napoleon Bonaparte himself got seduced and saw it as a great place to develop. The name of the village was even changed to Napoleonville in the 1800s. However, the most remarkable monument in Pontivy is from the Middle Age. The Castle of Rohans, the most powerful family in the region at that time, was built at the end of the 15th century.
Pontivy has a lovely historical town
If you’re tempted to stay in Pontivy, you may be interested in the Logis Hotel L’Europe*. They transformed a 19th-century merchant house into a comfortable hotel, keeping some charming old features such as the veranda from the Napoleon era and fine decors.
2. Huelgoat Forest
It took just over one hour to drive from Pontivy to Huelgoat.
Huelgoat Forest is famous for its “Chaotic Rocks” and the legends they inspired. Learning about legends is one of the best things to do in Brittany. Some say a Celtic giant chucked the granite boulders there. Others credit Gargantua for throwing the stones around because the porridge he got served was too small to satisfy his hunger.
Although they look light they randomly fell from the sky, the volcanic rocks actually come from more than 20 km underground. They were liquid magma that became rock as they cooled down while reaching the surface of the Earth. Then, the weather did its part to break them and clear their surroundings.
Now, they seem on top of each other, sometimes challenging gravity. It creates unreal landscapes of beautiful contrasts of greens and greys. It’s fun to wander around the mossy boulders and try to understand how the places got their original names (the Mushroom, the Virgin’s Household…). The Roche Tremblante (the Shaky Rock) is one of the most famous spots. If you’re strong enough (and find the right timing), you can make the huge stone swing.
The stroll may make you hungry. There are a few creperies in Huelgoat that are perfect for a lunch break.
3. Mont Saint-Michel de Brasparts
It took half an hour to drive from Huelgoat to Mont Saint Michel de Brasparts.
Once upon a time, there were mountains in Brittany. The Monts D’Aree still exist, but its highest summit, Mont Saint Michel de Brasparts, is now culminating at… 380
It was a druid cult site for the Sun God, Belenos. Nowadays, you’ll find up there a cute chapel from the 17th century, and a splendid 360° panorama of the surrounding countryside. On a good day, you can see all the way to Quimper and the ocean.
4. Valley of Saints
It took 40 minutes to drive from Mont Saint Michel de Brasparts to the Valley of Saints.
The Valley of Saints is a surprising place like nowhere else in the world. On a hill in the middle of Brittany, they’ve been erecting gigantic statues. They sometimes call it the Britton’s Easter Island. I hope it will have a better destiny.
When we visited, they had just celebrated the arrival of the 100th statue. We could see an artist sculpting the next one from a big block of granite just a bit further away from the site. The project is to have 1,000 statues for all the saints who founded a parish in Brittany. All with their different style and in various types of local granite.
The first statues were created in 2009. But the project is strongly linked to the history of Brittany from 1,500 years ago when British priests and monks landed.
The objective of the Valley of Saints is to keep the culture and legends alive. Every saint has a story. You may wander randomly and try to find out who is who. Or you can purchase a guidebook. If you speak French, the Wikipedia article provides a description of each statue.
It took just under one hour to drive from the Valley of Saints to Guemene-
The small village is famous for being the capital of the andouille. It’s a culinary specialty best described as smoked pork sausage. If you can find andouille elsewhere in France, the way it is prepared in Guemene is unique.
The andouille from Guemene can be bought everywhere in Brittany. But a stop at Guemene-
The entry is free of charge; it’s like a shop with passionate staff to answer all your questions and great products on display. It’s a small place so you will likely spend less than half an hour there. There is plenty of space to park and it closes at 7 pm, so it’s easy to add to the end of your Brittany road trip.
Although it’s not a big step back in time, they’ve been doing the andouille in a traditional way since 1935.