Bridge over the River Odet in Quimper © Shutterstock

The best city breaks to take in Brittany

Take a city break holiday to Rennes

Foodie heaven, Rennes is home to one of the biggest outdoor markets in France with a total of 20 markets inside the city. The Place de Lices market is open every Saturday morning and is filled with gastronomic delights from all around the region and across France. Gourmands will find everything they could desire in Rennes' markets and at its restaurants. It's also at the forefront of the 'bistrologie' trend blending French market cuisine, bistro culture and natural wines.

The medieval half-timber houses of Rennes © Shutterstock

The medieval half-timber houses of Rennes

Rennes is also the place to be to enjoy some relaxed Breton culture and medieval heritage. The historic centre is well-worth taking a guided tour around on your city break, as there's much to see. If you're feeling romantic, why not take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage? Unwind at a spa, go shopping for some big brands and head out to experience the buzzing nightlife for which Rennes is famous - it has one of the largest student populations in France so there's plenty of diverse bars around.

Romantic city breaks to St Malo 

A town that needs little introduction, the port town of St Malo is perfect for a romantic weekend away. Fantastic restaurants line the cobbled streets of Intra Muros, its ancient walled town. Art lovers will enjoy browsing the many shops selling paintings and the streets are crammed with tiny boutiques full of character selling clothing, artisanal products, antique books and much more.

The walls of Intra-Muros around St Malo from the marina © Shutterstock

The walls of Intra-Muros around St Malo from the marina

Holidaying in St Malo means you can experience its several beautiful beaches and two little islands, these can be reached at low tide. Walk the ramparts of St Malo for the best views of the horizon. You could also take a day trip to visit the towns of Dinan and Dinard. Dinan, just upriver, is a charming medieval town famed for its picturesque riverside vistas and Dinard, just across the rivermouth from St Malo is an elegant seaside resort from the Belle Epoque era with a stunning and eclectic mismatch of villas along the cliffside.

Take a holiday to Vannes

Locked inside high medieval walls, the ancient city of Vannes is a real treasure and the perfect city break destination. The charming old town is overawed by the majestic cathedral with the Château Gaillard tucked a few streets away. The chateau houses an archaeological museum and, as Vannes was founded by the Romans, there's much to see here. The former covered market at La Cohue is now a beautiful backdrop to some stunning artworks as the Museum of Fine Arts.

Medieval walled town of Vannes in Southern Brittany © Yannick le Gal, BRTC

Medieval walled town of Vannes in Southern Brittany © Yannick le Gal, BRTC

Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the harbourside restaurants and walk around the ramparts for great views of the city. The harbour leads out to the Gulf of Morbihan, a pretty inland sea best explored with a boat trip. It has around 42 islands and they are some of the best sites for discovering megalithic monuments, left by Neolithic man, in the region.

Brest city holidays 

Brest might be a surprise to some as a city break destination but it really is much more than just a working port these days. Explore its naval history at the museum inside Brest's austere chateau or head out on a boat trip to see the harbour. You can even take trips to the Crozon Peninsula or with a diver who is fitted with a camera and you can see what they see via a live feed on board. 

The Château de Brest © Emmanuel Berthier, BRTC

The Château de Brest © Emmanuel Berthier, BRTC

The city is known for its seafaring history so take a stroll alongside the docks and marina and marvel at the variety of ships. If what's under the sea fascinates you then head for Océanopolis with its huge aquariums featuring marine creatures from across the globe. Or just enjoy the great food in the harbourside restaurants soaking in the history of this place. Relax with a visit to the botanical gardens that are filled with endangered plant species - there's plenty for those with green fingers to discover!

A culture-filled break to Quimper

The cultural heart of Brittany and home of the Cornouaille festival celebrating all things Breton, Quimper is a great destination to discover what Brittany is all about. The festival happens every July with parades in traditional costume, local music and the famous Fest Noz dance. You'll find the Musée Departmental Breton in the Bishop's Palace with lots of Brittany's history on display.

Family walking along a street in Quimper through a street with gift shops

Walking along a street in Quimper © Simon Bourcier, BRTC

Known for its striking cathedral and well-preserved old town, Quimper is also renowned for its faience - pottery decorated with distinctly Breton designs. Visit the HB Henriot's pottery in the historic Locmaria district of the town and take a tour of the workshop to see just how the pottery is made and painted. There's a selection of 500 pieces to view in the Musée de Faience that's just around the corner from the pottery.

City breaks in Nantes

OK, so Nantes isn't technically in Brittany (at least not anymore!) but it was the capital of the region for centuries.

Nantes is perfect for a city break holiday whatever the time of year. Renowned for its arts and culture, Nantes is home to some wonderful modern art including the marvellous Machines de l'ile, which seem to have come from a collaboration of the minds of Da Vinci and Jules Verne. The historic duchy of Brittany that made Nantes its capital mean it is home to one of the most beautiful chateaux in the area - the Palace of the Dukes of Brittany.

The carousel and elephant of the Machines de l'île © Les Machines d'île, Franck Tomps LVAN

The carousel and elephant of the Machines de l'île © Les Machines d'île, Franck Tomps LVAN

Nantes doesn't just confine its artistry to buildings and machines. It's also a gastronomic capital and you'll find some truly spectacular dishes in the eclectic restaurants on offer here. Spend some time shopping in Nantes' chic boutiques and don't miss the elegant 19th century Passage Pommeraye if you really like to shop in style. Enjoy the green spaces outside and if you fancy a day trip out and about, why not head to Saint-Nazaire for some history at the submarine base and transatlantic liner museum?

With so many city break destinations to choose from, Brittany is a brilliant holiday destination. Feel inspired? Holiday with confidence with Brittany Ferries. Our 2021 selection of ferry-inclusive package holidays come with free Covid-19 cover and free amendments too.