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Brittany Family Holidays & Breaks

Plage de la Mine d'Or, MorbihanPlage de la Mine d'Or, Morbihan© Conrad Williams
Carnac-Ville, MorbihanCarnac-Ville, Morbihan© Rhonda Carrier
Dinard, Côte d'EmeraudeDinard, Côte d'Emeraude© Rhonda Carrier
Crab, Ile aux Moines, MorbihanCrab, Ile aux Moines, Morbihan© Rhonda Carrier
Marina, MorbihanMarina, Morbihan© Conrad Williams
Seafood menus, Ile aux Moines, MorbihanSeafood menus, Ile aux Moines, Morbihan© Rhonda Carrier
Plage de la Mine d'Or, MorbihanPlage de la Mine d'Or, Morbihan© Conrad Williams
Longchamp beach, St-Lunaire, Côte d'EmeraudeLongchamp beach, St-Lunaire, Côte d'Emeraude© Conrad Williams
Flying Time 1.25hrs
Carbon Footprint 0.4 CO2
Timezone GMT +1
Currency Euro

Today

Overview

Sharing a Celtic heritage with parts of Britain (many of its ancient sites were built by the same people as Stonehenge), this classic family holiday destination is France's version of Cornwall. With almost as many barmy festivals as we have, a mad rocky coastline (and some beautiful beaches), crazy head-dresses (coiffes), tons of record-breaking lighthouses, brilliant aquariums and fantastic food, it's great for kids of all ages. Just watch out for the korrigans – shapeshifting local fairies who like to spirit away human children and replace them with changelings!

Things to do with kids in Brittany

Spend time in St-Malo, which is far from just a ferry port. A combination of picturesque seaside resort, ancient walled pirates’ city and great shopping spot, it has a brilliant aquarium, the Grand Aquarium, especially good for younger kids.

Stop off at the gritty naval port of Brest, for a boat trip around its amazing Rade or natural bay, and a day (you’ll need it) at Océanopolis, one of the world’s greatest sea-life centres.

Explore the Côte de Granit Rose, a stretch of coast full of pinkish rocks carved by the elements into weird and wonderful shapes, occupying fabulous turquoise bays. Family holiday resorts here include Perros-Guirec, and you can spend time trying to recognize the site of the nameless village in which the Astérix comic books are set.

Stray into the inland valley of Huelgoat, with its strangely shaped rocks and even stranger legends, some of them related to King Arthur, Merlin et al. Even a child can move the 100-tonne Roche Tremblante if they touch it in the right place, while some claim to see fairies bathing by moonlight in the Mare aux Fées.

Venture over to the wild, windswept island of Ouessant, to see the most powerful lighthouse on Earth, the world’s only lighthouse museum and some unique dwarf black sheep.

Wonder at Carnac, the most important prehistoric site in Europe, with as many as 3000 menhirs (tall upright stones) that have been here longer than the pyramids in Egypt and are believed to have formed a lunar observatory. The majority now have restricted access, but there’s a good, child-friendly prehistory museum, Musée de Carnac, that puts them in context. They are close to the lovely seaside resort of Carnac-Plage, too.

Head for the hip regional capital Rennes, to learn about Brittany's history at the Musée de Bretagne and about science at the adjoining Espace des Sciences with its planetarium and ‘Merlin’s Laboratory’ children’s discovery zone.

Nip over the border into Normandy, to see the glorious UNESCO-listed Mont-St-Michel. Chug out aboard a tractor-drawn cart into its spectacular bay of sandflats to see mussels growing on bouchots (sticks).

Eat

Brittany is most famous for crêpes and their savoury versions, galettes, found all over the region with every imaginable variety of filling. Crêperies can be a handy family holiday standby because they are often, especially in seaside resorts, open all through the day (French restaurant hours are generally quite restrictive).

The seafood is also particularly good, especially the soupe de poissons, moules (mussels, cooked marinières or in a host of other interesting ways) and the cotriade (fish stew). If your kids are adventurous, share a seafood platter, and teach them the joy of using surgical instruments to find a tiny morsel of flesh at the very back of a claw. Local desserts include kouign aman (butter cake) and far breton (prune cake), but the ice cream is usually good too (try the seaweed flavour if you dare)!

When to go to Brittany

Avoid Brittany in August if you can– it's overwhelmed by French holidaymakers. And never come in the depths of winter, when most hotels and restaurants shut up shop in the face of the inhospitable climate. Even at the end of May, the weather can still be diabolically grey and rainy. Still, if you’re canny and save up the indoor attractions for rainy days, a family holiday here outside the peak summer months can be a success.

Otherwise, late July sees the riproaring Festival Interceltique attracting Celts from all over western Europe to Lorient for music, Breton games and sports, fireworks and more besides. Or come in early July, for Guingamp’s Bugale Breizh or ‘festival of children in Brittany’, with traditional dance, puppet-making, games and wrestling.

How to get to Brittany

Brittany Ferries run to St-Malo and Roscoff in Brittany (as well as to neighbouring Normandy) for those who want to take their own car – indispensable for a family holiday here unless you plan to hire one. St-Malo can also be reached with Condor Ferries, or with Irish Ferries from Ireland.

Otherwise, low-cost airlines service Dinard, Rennes, Brest and Lorient. Or you can fly to Nantes, just south of Brittany.

For the environmentally conscious, Eurostar offers trains from London and connecting journeys from Lille or Paris to Rennes, Brest, Quimper, Lorient and Vannes, usually by TGV.

Cost

Brittany is full of self-catering accommodation options that make it a good-value family holiday destination. Ferry deals, lower petrol costs (it's much more accessible than the more southerly parts of France) and good-value family-friendly eateries such as crêperies will all help to keep your overall holiday bill down.

By Rhonda Carrier

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