The Morbihan Region of Brittany, France
If you’re thinking about a French break any time in the spring, summer or autumn, then the Morbihan really is a beautiful and still relatively “undiscovered” spot.
The Morbihan is the south eastern department of Brittany. Whether this constitutes “France” first, or Brittany first will depend on your point of view and who you ask!
The beauty of this corner of the world is, well, its sheer beauty. The climate is altogether milder than other areas of Brittany and the whole department has a slow and relaxed feel about it.
Along the coast are many and varied beaches from the busiest and most commercial beach at Carnac, to many other far less populated beaches in either direction.
Getting here is easy. If you’re travelling from the south east of England, you may decide the quickest and cheapest way is via a Dover-Calais ferry followed by a long drive of 5-6 hours along France’s generally excellent and quiet roads. But most people tend to travel overnight from Plymouth or Portsmouth to St Malo, Caen or Cherbourg before driving south.
If you don’t need to come here during July and August – then don’t. The best times of year to visit are April-June or September – early October. At these times, the weather is usually perfect. The Morbihan has a warmer climate than the rest of Brittany and there are few tourists clogging up the beaches and many excellent coastal restaurants serving fresh sea food, and crepes, the regional specialty.
But be warned – you may get a week’s rain. Rather like Devon and Cornwall, that’s the risk you take here. But when the sun does shine, it really is picture postcard perfect.
A tent and sleeping bags and maybe even bikes will be sufficient if you’re feeling fit enough. The terrain here is perfect cycling country – not too flat and not too hilly, but gently undulating for the main part.
The campsites are generally excellent, but try and book ahead if you’re planning your trip at the height of the summer; otherwise, you’ll have no problems.
Visit the old and picturesque town of Vannes at the head of the ‘Golfe Du Morbihan’. The department is named after the Gulf; Morbihan means ‘little sea’ in Breton. The Gulf is almost an inland sea, and has its own microclimate. Its coastline includes many miles of sandy beaches, as well as over 40 islands and islets and you can cruise around it for a day with a meal on board from Vannes – which is an easy and enjoyable way to really see the gulf.
Inland lie farmland, moors, river valleys, and forests. The main rivers are the Sarre and the Blavet, and in their scenic valleys can be seen deer, otters and many varieties of bird species. The Blavet enters the sea at Lorient. It was canalised in 1842 and has a towpath of 360 km; ideal for cycling.
Also, try and travel down the Quiberon Peninsula to the town of the same name which has a real Cote d’Azur feel about it when the sun is shining. Better yet, hop on the 45 minute ferry to the Belle Isle from Quiberon, with your bikes. This island really does live up to its name.
David is a Francophile living in the Morbihan department of Brittany. He and his partner like nothing more than exploring their area armed with bikes and rucksacks.