Bretagne-Finistère in summer offers a wealth of history and nature to be explored. Located in the extreme west of Brittany, this coastal department has a rich and varied history and some of the deepest cultural roots in France. From ancient Celtic cities and seaside villages, mythical forests, and megalithic monuments, discover one of the world’s most unique and enduring heritages.

    Take a stroll around age-old Quimper, Brittany’s oldest city, or a leisurely walk along the shipping ports of Camaret-sur-Mer village. Marvel at arcane monuments built by fertility cults of bygone times, or chill on hidden island beaches. There is nothing quite like this corner of Brittany, and its treasure trove of diverse offerings are what makes Finistère the crown jewel of Celtic heritage.

    What are the best things to do this summer in Bretagne-Finistère?

    1

    Quimper

    Explore the ancient, historic streets of old Quimper

    • History
    • Photo

    Built on the vestiges of a Roman town, Quimper is Brittany’s oldest city, and a feast for the senses. Wander Vieux Quimper (Old Town) with its tiny pedestrian streets, river footbridges, iconic timbered houses, and imposing – and famously bent – 13th-century cathedral. Many of the walkways here are home to local artisan craft shops, and the pottery they produce has an enduring reputation.

    This is one of the most popular places for couples to visit in summer in Bretagne-Finistère. After a bit of a stroll, you’ll probably want to hit the aptly named medieval Place au Beurre (Butter Square), for excellent homemade crepes, best washed down with pitchers of local apple cider.

    Location: Place Saint-Corentin, 29000 Quimper, France

    Map
    2

    Forêt de Paimpont

    Visit the enchanted forest of Arthurian legends

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History
    • Budget
    • Unusual

    Forêt de Paimpont has been part of the literary legend since the 12th century, when medieval poet Chrétien de Troyes first wrote of Lancelot, Percival, and the Holy Grail. An area of protected natural beauty, it's also the birthplace of what was once considered only a legend. Many make the pilgrimage here to discover the real-life sites that inspired Arthurian tradition.

    Visit the Barenton Fountain, frequented by Merlin, and rumoured since antiquity to possess miraculous powers, granting health and wishes to those who drink its water. Also nearby are the Valley of No Return and the Eglise du Graal, the only church in the world dedicated to the quest for the Holy Grail.

    Map
    3

    Douarnenez

    Spend a relaxing time visiting one of Brittany’s most beautiful coastal towns

    • History
    • Photo

    Located on a bay with no less than 4 picturesque harbours, Douarnenez is one of the most charming seaside villages in Brittany. Originally a fisherman’s village, Douarnenez was once a leader in the worldwide sardine industry. While those days have passed, the captivating former seaport is replete with artisanal boutiques, cafés, and lazy footpaths where you can imagine the hustle and bustle of its historic past.

    Douarnenez is also home to some excellent seaside spots, such as the family-friendly Plage des Dames (Ladies’ Beach), and the Isle of Tristan, where, some say, pirates once buried their treasure.

    Map
    4

    Camaret-sur-Mer

    A charming historic fishing village on Brittany’s craggy coastline

    • History
    • Photo

    Camaret-sur-Mer is a delightful little village situated at one end of the Crozon Peninsula. It was once Europe’s leading lobster port and is known as much for its colourful former fisherman’s houses and art galleries as its easy-going seaside ambience.

    Make sure you visit the 17th century Tour Vauban, known as the “Golden Tower”, which once helped defeat an Anglo-Dutch fleet on its way to attack Brest. It’s the only UNESCO World Heritage monument in Brittany. Walking fans will enjoy the nearby pointe de Pen-Hir promontory and its views of the “islands at the edge of the world”, the Ile de Ouessant and Ile de Sein.

    Map
    5

    Plage de l’Ile Saint Nicolas

    Enjoy the white sand beaches of “Breton Tahiti”

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Saint Nicolas Island, in the Glénan Archipelago, is blessed with one of the most beautiful beaches in Brittany. Located within one of France’s smallest wildlife preserves, this sparsely inhabited island is home to a pristine white-sand beach as well as some excellent diving spots, which you can enjoy through the local diving school.

    It’s home to a rare species of daffodil, found nowhere else in the world. The island, accessible only in the summertime, can be reached by ferry from local towns – Bénodet is the best bet. Plage de l’Ile Saint Nicolas is perfect for an afternoon picnic and a peaceful, leisurely stroll.

    Map
    6

    Cairn de Barnenez

    Finistère’s most mysterious megalithic monument

    • History
    • Photo

    Located on the verdant Kernéléhen peninsula in northern Finistère, Cairn de Barnenez is a prehistoric megalith built sometime around 4500 BC. It’s one of the most unique and impressive monuments in Brittany, but also one of the oldest manmade structures in the world, predating the Great Pyramid of Giza by 2,000 years!

    Explore the 11 burial chambers as well the numerous Neolithic and Bronze Age artefacts found during the site’s renovation at the entranceway exhibition hall. Look out for wall engravings for rare examples of megalithic art, including depictions of goddesses and various arcane symbols.

    Location: Cairn de Barnénez, 29252 Plouezoc'h, France

    Phone: +33 (0)2 98 67 24 73

    Map
    7

    Menhir de Kerloas

    Brittany’s tallest freestanding Bronze Age monolith

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Menhir de Kerloas is the tallest monolith in France, located a couple of miles from Plouazel village in northern Finistère. Made from perfectly cut granite, the 150-tonne monument, visible for more than 30 kilometres, is nearly 10 metres tall.

    Legend has it that it was even taller, but that a 17th-century lightning strike sheared a couple of metres off the top. Erected 5,000 years ago on a ridge more than 130 metres above sea level, the monolith is rumoured to have special properties and, over the years, many young couples have made the pilgrimage in hopes the menhir would grant them fertility.

    Location: 29810 Plouarzel, France

    Map
    8

    Musée de la Préhistoire en Finistère

    Brittany’s most charming prehistory museum

    • History

    Musée de la Préhistoire en Finistère is a small museum that’s well worth a visit, as much for the pristine beauty of the local area as for their treasure trove of more than 3,000 archaeological artefacts. It’s situated in Penmarch, also known as Brittany’s “Lands’ End” (the southernmost commune in the region).

    The collection here, including Bronze Age tools and weapons, prehistoric pottery, and even reconstituted mausoleums, making for an interesting detour. Also, lies Pors Carn beach is just a couple of kilometres away – a favourite with families and surfing enthusiasts.

    Location: 657 Rue du Musée de la Préhistoire, 29760 Penmarch, France

    Phone: +33 (0)2 98 58 60 35

    Map

    photo by Moreau.henri (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Pointe St-Mathieu Lighthouse

    Finistère’s most iconic lighthouse

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Saint-Mathieu Lighthouse is an official historic monument originally constructed in 1835. Overlooking the Iroise Sea, it’s one of the most iconic landmarks in all of Brittany and has long been a symbol to the area’s sailors. For photographers, this is one of the most popular places in Bretagne-Finistère.

    Climb the lighthouse’s 163 steps for a commanding 360-degree view of local sites such as the Pointe du Raz, a famous local promontory, or the tiny Molène archipelago. Also, be sure to check out the ruins of the Benedictine abbey upon which the lighthouse is built.

    Phone: +33 (0)2 98 89 00 17

    Map
    10

    Château du Taureau

    Explore Brittany’s version of the infamous Alcatraz

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    Château du Taureau is an island fortress in Morlaix Bay and is one of the most unique spots to visit in all of Brittany. It was originally built in the 16th century and, over the years since, has been used as a fortress, prison, and even a holiday home. This imposing monument is packed with history and hosts organised activities for the whole family.

    Freely roam the building’s 3 different levels or take part in guided tours that help you relive the time of pirates. For the ultimate experience, grab breakfast or a picnic, and soak up the ambience while enjoying delicious local specialities.

    Location: Baie de Morlaix, 29252 Plouezoc'h, France

    Phone: +33 (0)2 98 62 29 73

    Map
    Adrian Moore | Contributing Writer

    Start planning your trip

    Why book with Hotels.com?

    Travel alert

    COVID-19 alert: Travel requirements are changing rapidly, including need for pre-travel COVID-19 testing and quarantine on arrival.

    Check restrictions for your trip.

    Maps