The great French outdoors: planning the perfect Brittany hiking weekend

The coastal path in Le Bono, Morbihan

Exploring France: With over 1600 kilometers of well-marked coastal trails alone, Brittany offers some of France’s best hiking. But taking a few minutes to plan ahead can make your hiking weekend that much more enjoyable.

1. Hiking experience in Brittany enhanced: plan ahead for lodging

Especially in July and August, the best (and cheapest) hotels and B&Bs book out fast and if you are traveling by foot, you may not have the luxury of widening your geographic sphere. Some of the smaller towns will have only one hotel or B&B, if any. So before you set out, be sure you will have a place to stay at the end of each day’s trek.

Cap Frehel

2. Hiking experience in Brittany extended: Don’t forget the islands

The islands off the coast of Brittany offer some of the region’s most breathtaking scenery and each island has a special culture and character of its own. But for hikers, the islands provide a special bonus: there will inevitably be a loop trail along the perimeter of the island that allows you to avoid backtracking.

I recently hiked the loop trails of Île-aux-Moines and Île d’Arz in the Gulf of Morbihan, each 17 kilometers (about 4 hours) around. Both islands are exceptionally beautiful, but what is more surprising is that these two next-door islands are so different from one another, both in their landscapes and in their cultures.

Ile-aux-Moines, Morbihan

3. Hiking experience in Brittany: Consider not using a car

I almost always recommend hiring a car if you want to see the best of beyond-Paris France. However, if you can structure a hike that forms a circuit (an island or a peninsula) or starting at one train station and ending at another, you will save time, money and hassle by leaving the car behind.

A few ideas for TGV or TGV + ferry hiking itineraries:

  • Auray TGV station to Vannes TGV station (about 70 kilometers or just under 90 if you add in a sidetrip to Île-aux-Moines or Île d’Arz)
  • Île de Groix (27 kilometers around), accessible by ferry from Lorient
  • Belle-Île-en-Mer (100 kilometers around), accessible by ferry from Vannes

4. Dress for any kind of weather

It rains in Brittany. A lot. So invest in a decent waterproof breathable jacket and plan to hike rain or shine!

Crozon Peninsula, Brittany

5. Invest in a decent map

Although most of the trails are well-marked (in particular the GR34 along the coast), it is helpful to have a map in certain spots and for pre-trip planning purposes (where to sleep, how far each leg of the hike will be, etc.).

In my numerous hikes in the Morbihan, I have found FFRandonnée’s topo-map guide invaluable for the planning stage if not also for the actual hiking. A good map certainly goes a long way to improve your experience hiking in Brittany.

Do you have hiking experience in Brittany? Please share your experiences in comments below

This popular Exploring France article written in 2012 has been refreshed and republished in 2021 for your enjoyment when in Brittany.

About the Contributor

Abby Gordon

“I’m American who has lived in Paris since 2007. I’m also the author of and photographer for a blog offering practical information and no-nonsense opinions to help you explore Paris and organize day trips and weekend trips from Paris. If you would like to view more of my photos, please visit my site.”

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  1. Charles Trégouët Aug 28, 2012 at 4:34 PM - Reply

    I am from Brittany and the best piece of advice that I can give is: buy a waterproof breathable jacket!! If you don’t, you’ll regret it…

  2. Celine Mangiardi Aug 29, 2012 at 11:02 AM - Reply

    + rain boots and big umbrella 🙂

  3. Abby Gordon Aug 31, 2012 at 8:00 PM - Reply

    Very true! Rain gear is always essential in Brittany. But don’t be dissuaded by bad weather. The weather in Brittany changes very quickly so it could be pouring rain and then sunny 10 minutes later. Of course the opposite is always true too…. But it’s rare to have a day when it really rains all day long.

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