Brittany is great for water sports including surfing, sailing, windsurfing and sand yachting.

It’s with good reason that France receives more foreign tourists than any other country in the world. Great food and wine, vibrant culture, beaches, mountains, thriving cities and idyllic countryside – it’s all on offer.
But on the Finistere peninsula, jutting out into the Atlantic, is Brittany – a province that is as enticing as the rest of the country, but with its own distinct language, culture and geography.

It is geography that still helps define Brittany today – the region’s long coastline is far less developed than in the south of France, and it provides ample opportunities for anything involving boats or waves, not to mention a stunning array of seafood.

Add to this Brittany’s Celtic heritage – introduced by folks fleeing Britain ever since Roman times – and it has as much in common with Wales, Cornwall and Scotland as it does with mainstream France. So, if you enjoy outdoor activities and great food, you’ll love this truly distinct part of the country.

Water sports in Brittany

Water sports in Brittany

With mile upon mile of Atlantic coastline, Brittany offers world-class water sports.

Sailing is big – and sailors don’t come more popular than Eric Tabarly, whose name adorns the hugely impressive Cité de la Voile centre in Lorient.

It’s a homage to everything nautical – check out the interactive exhibitions, then hop on board a real yacht to head out to the open sea and have a go taking the helm and winching the sails. (

Brittany’s long, wide, uncrowded beaches are perfect for sand yachting.

It’s a cross between windsurfing, sailing and cycling – you sit in a small contraption with three wheels, hold the sail and zoom along the beach. It’s far easier to get the hang of than windsurfing (it only takes about 10 minutes to pick up the basics), and you don’t get wet if you get it all wrong.

A great place to try the sport is in the attractive walled city of St Malo, which has a surfeit of sandy beaches and plenty of places to hire watersport equipment. (

One of the town’s best known beaches is Las Plage du Bons Secours which boasts a sea water swimming pool, replenished after every high tide.

The Bretons are also into the latest surf craze: stand-up paddleboarding. You get an oversized surfboard (on which balancing is easy – you can stand or kneel) and a paddle. It’s a far less intimidating way to enjoy the thrill of catching a wave than surfing and even old-school surfers have been known to enjoy it. (

Eating and drinking

Some of the best seafood you’re ever likely to taste can be found in Brittany.

With most of its main towns and cities located along a relatively undeveloped coast, the potential for fruit de mer are seemingly endless. Fish stew, often served with a couple of slabs of fish in a broth of vegetables, is a speciality. And it tastes so much better than it sounds. More straightforward yet equally tasty is a seafood platter, which is a regional speciality.

Don’t miss trying some traditional Breton cider. This is to mainstream brews like Magners and Bulmers what a bottle of Dom Perignon is to a £3 bottle of spumante. It’s light(ish) but super tasty, and an authentic alternative to beer.

Brittany - eating and drinking

Brittany’s must-see towns

Two of the best towns to experience atmospheric Breton heritage are St Malo and Dinan, in north-east Brittany.

■ St-Malo was once home to pirates who made a handsome living raiding ships plying the English Channel, but these days it’s far more genteel.
The walled city (Intra-Muros) is home to restaurants, bars, cafes and shops, while walking the ramparts provides great views, both to the old town (which looks the part even though most of it was rebuilt after WWII bombing), the beach below and the nearby beachside suburb of St-Servan. At low tides wander over the causeway to the Fort National (open to the public and summer), or have a picnic on the Ile du Grande Be.
■ A few kilometres away is Dinard, a pretty seaside resort, famous for its striped bathing tents. It’s a classy place with a stylish promenade.
Equally enchanting is Dinan, a walled city overlooking the River Rance. With timbered buildings, cobblestone streets and a ye olde feel, it’s a great place to get lost in its narrow streets.

Essential information

Getting there: Fly to Dinard from London Stansted with Ryanair ( or fly from Gatwick to Nantes with easyJet (
Getting around: All of Brittany’s major towns are served by high-speed TGV train, while local and tourist trains allow you to criss-cross more than 1000km of railways throughout the region.
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» For more information on what to see and do in Brittany, visit;; and

– Daniel Landon