Places to Visit

 

Arradon

(49 miles – 1 hour from Ménéac)

A small coastal town at the edge of the Gulf of Morbihan, just a short drive from Vannes with a busy water sports centre and beach side cafe. There is a small area of sand, but the beach is mostly pebble, but great for the kids exploring rock-pools.
Park in the free designated car park on the beach road as there is little parking once at the coast itself (just a 5 min. walk).
If you walk along the beach you will find an extensive oyster farming area, and we spent some time watching the specialised flat bottomed boat and workers harvesting the oysters which grow to maturity in the hessian sacks.

 


Auray

(55 miles – 1 hour 10 mins from Ménéac)

is built on the steep-sided estuary of the Loch, which at this point is called the River Auray.

The town of Auray is not the main attraction; it is overshadowed by the small characterful old port of Saint-Goustan, a five minute walk away.
One of the roads linking Auray with the port houses a collection of interesting artist’s shops. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the Biscuitier Chocolatier just before the bridge, who make a wonderful selection of chocolate and mini Kouign Amann (a rich buttery cake) in an amazing number of varieties.

Saint-Goustan is reached by crossing the old stone 17thC bridge. The character of the old port is remarkably well preserved, and the narrow cobbled streets give the feel of an old smugglers haunt.

 


Belle-Île

(80 miles – 3 hours from Ménéac, as this route includes a Ferry)

means the Beautiful Island (10 miles long and up to 6 miles wide). The largest of the Breton islands, it was a favourite haunt for Saxon pirates and Norman invaders until given to the abbey of Redon in 1006. Even the shutters on the houses, which under local bye-laws have to be painted in pastel colours, add to the picturesque effect. The green, undulating countryside and vast beaches make it an ideal day trip from Quiberon.
Bicycles and scooters can be hired if you prefer to leave the car on the mainland. Boats arrive at Le Palais which has an impressive citadel, improved by Vauban, but which was nevertheless occupied by the English until 1761. Now in private ownership, it has been faithfully restored.
In summer the population can swell to over 35,000, but rarely feels crowded.

The island has been a popular location for artists. Octave Penguilly L’Haridon’s 1859 painting Les Petites mouettes (“Little Gulls”) (1858, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes) depicts the island. It was praised by Maxime du Camp and Charles Baudelaire, who referred to the sense of the uncanny, as though the rocks make “a portal open to infinity…a wound of white birds, and the solitude!” During the 1870s and 1880s, French Impressionist painter Claude Monet painted the rock formations at Belle Île. Monet’s series of paintings of the rocks at Belle Île astounded the Paris art world when he first exhibited them in 1887. Most notable are the Storm, Coast at Belle-Île and Cliffs at Belle-Île both rendered in 1886. The first time Auguste Rodin saw the ocean off the Brittany coast he exclaimed, “It’s a Monet.”

Australian born artist John Peter Russell was a man of means and having married a beautiful Italian, Mariana Antoinetta Matiocco, he settled at Belle Île off the coast of Brittany where he established an artists’ colony. Russell had met Vincent van Gogh in Paris and formed a friendship with him. Van Gogh spoke highly of Russell’s work, and after his first summer in Arles in 1888 he sent twelve drawings of his paintings to Russell, to inform him about the progress of his work. Monet often worked with Russell at Belle Île and influenced his style, though it has been said that Monet preferred some of Russell’s Belle Île seascapes to his own. Russell did not attempt to make his pictures known.

In 1897 and 1898 Henri Matisse visited Belle Île. Russell introduced him to impressionism and to the work of Van Gogh (who was relatively unknown at the time). Matisse’s style changed radically, and he would later say “Russell was my teacher, and Russell explained colour theory to me.”

 


Blavet Valley

(59 miles – 1 hour 10 mins from Ménéac)

the scenic winding valley of the Blavet extends from Lac de Guerledan, 17km north of Pontivy, to meet the sea at Lorient. You can follow its route by bicycle, canoe or on foot.
The little riverside hamlet of St Nicolas-des-Eaux has all the things you could want for a relaxing afternoon. A collection of shops, restaurants and bars, with plenty of picnic tables beside the river Blavet where you can spend many an hour watching the boats go through the locks.
Discover the picturesque Blavet Valley by boat. Starting from St Nicholas des Eaux there are 4 boats which will take you down the Blavet on a cruise lasting 1h30 with full commentary. A buffet is available on board the boats. You can undertake a circular walk using the main road bridge at one end and an old railway bridge at the other (allow about an hour).

2km south of Quistinc is the ‘living museum’ of Poul Fetan – a pretty village of thatched cottages complete with a working pottery and bakehouse, that preserves the traditional crafts and farming practices of 19th century rural Brittany.
For centuries the village of Poul-Fetan was home to 4 or 5 families, and was inhabited until 1970. It was acquired by the Quistinic Community in 1977 and restored. There are a variety of daily demonstrations which include wool spinning, crepe making, Breton games, washerwomen, head-dress starching and hand milking the cows. There is even an Inn where you will be able to sample traditional food and drink of the era. You can combine visits to St Nicolas, with perhaps a picnic lunch and walk, and Poul Fetan in the afternoon to make for a good day out.

 


Brocéliande Forest

(15 miles – 25 mins from Ménéac)

also known as the Forêt de Paimpont, this area is traditionally linked with King Arthur and the sword of Excalibur. Those that come in search of sights of Arthurian legend. The area has a certain mysterious quality, so all that its required is to add imagination.

There are plenty of footpaths and trails if you wish to explore Brocéliande. You can pick up a free walking/cycling map of the forest from the tourist office at Paimpont (62km of trails). Alternatively you can buy the more complete Tour de Broceliande which has details of over 150km of trails.

In July and August there are guided tours of the lower and upper forests.

Arthurian legend

Earliest appearances:

  • in the 1170s, Chrétien de Troyes mentions the forest of Brocéliande in his Arthurian romance, Le Chevalier au lion. While in Brocéliande, Yvain pours water from a spring into a stone, causing a violent storm to erupt. This in turn summons the knight Esclados le Ros who defends the forest.
  • in Jaufré, the Arthurian romance of unknown authorship composed in Catalonia, the forest of Brocéliande is near King Arthur’s palace and the site of a mill where King Arthur battles a strange bull-like animal. The dating of Jaufré is debated and may have been written as early as 1183 or as late as 1225-1228.
  • in the late 12th or early 13th century, Robert de Boron associates the wizard Merlin with Brocéliande in his poem Merlin, also known as the Estoire de Merlin, or the Vulgate or Prose Merlin.
  • in the early 13th century, Brocéliande appears in context with archangels and Arthurian Knights in the medieval poet Huon de Méry‘s allegorical poem Tournoiement Antecrist.

By the timeframe of 1230-1240, the forest of Brocéliande is established as part of Arthurian legend, having appeared in multiple writings.

Brocéliande continues to appear throughout the Arthurian canon, in works such as Alfred, Lord Tennyson‘s 19th century poem Idylls of the King and 20th century works including Edwin Arlington Robinson‘s 1917 poem Merlin and Alan Seeger‘s 1916 poem Brocéliande. Like many of the earlier Arthurian works, Brocéliande is the location where Vivien entraps Merlin inside an oak tree.


Carnac

(63 miles – 1 hour 20 mins from Ménéac)

the five Carnac beaches stretch over 3 to 4 km (2.5 miles). Golden sands and plenty of space, even when it gets busy in late afternoon. Lovely lively café area and shops. Small amusement area and shows for children. Beach club in season. Check out La Men Dur on the route from La Trinite for a subdued day before visiting Carnac Plage.
There is a coastal path and the coastline alternates between capes and sandy coves, much favoured by family holidaymakers. Surfboading is an all-season sport here. Carnac can get very busy during the peak holiday months of July and August.
Recommended by France magazine as one of the 20 best beaches in France (May 2006).

 

Carnac is perhaps most famous for it’s world famous prehistoric site. Here you will find 3,000 standing stones which form the most extraordinary group of menhirs in the world.
The oldest stones date from the Neolithic period and the most recent from the Bronze Age. There is a Musee de Prehistoire where you will find information on:
menhirs – standing stones
cromlechs – menhirs in a standing circle
dolmens – tombs consisting of two upright stones roofed by a third
cairns – galleried graves
tumuli – burial mounds

 


Dinan

(39 miles – 50 mins from Ménéac)
a lovely medieval town with nice places to eat, old buildings to see, and lots of atmosphere. It is described as the best preserved medieval town in Brittany. The old town of Dinan is crammed with many small shops and half-timbered houses with their overhanging upper storey’s, with 13th-century ramparts and 15th-century half-timbered houses. Allow a couple of hours to wander the winding streets and visit the many gift shops selling a range of Breton produce.
The town’s best angle can be seen from the River Rance, where the magnitude of the fortifications and castle are fully appreciated. All the interesting places are within the walls in the old town.
There is a choice of over twenty places to eat including creperies, pizzeria, water-front restaurants and traditional French fayre.

A major highlight in the calendar is Dinan’s Fête des Remparts. The town is transformed with decoration and many locals dress up in medieval garb for this two-day festival. The festival takes place every other year.


Dinard

(50 miles – 1 hour from Ménéac)

is situated right on the coast opposite St Malo, sitting atop a rocky headland above the Rance, Dinard was a popular spot with the British in Edwardian times; they still visit today for the bracing sea air and a stroll along the promenade. The seafront is lined with Victorian Villas,many of which are listed buildings, which ensure the town still retains its elegant and sedate old world character.

Dinard’s reputation as the “Cannes of the North” has attracted a wide variety of stars. Joan Collins is a frequent visitor, and Winston Churchill enjoyed holidaying on the River Rance. It is claimed locally that Alfred Hitchcock visited Dinard and based the house used in his most famous movie Psycho on a villa standing over the Plage de l’Écluse, but no evidence is produced. Lawrence of Arabia lived in Dinard as a small child, long before his Arabian exploits, and Picasso, painted here in the 1920s. Debussy is supposed to have had the idea for “La Mer” during a visit to Saint-Énogat in 1902. In 1996 Éric Rohmer filmed parts of Conte d’été in Dinard. Oscar Wilde also visited the place, and mentions it in his De Profundis.

The main beach is La Grande Plage. a strip of sand between the two peninsulas that define the edges of the old town. It is popular with families and is crowded on hot days. Smaller and more isolated is Plage de St-Enogat, a 20-minute walk east through the village of St-Enogat, or Plage du Prieuré, just a 10-minute walk from town. There is a great difference between high and low tides, and swimming pools along the Grand Plage and the Plage du Prieuré beaches catch seawater during high tides for those who opt not to make the trek along the salt flats during low tides to bathe in the sea. A footpath cut into the base of the cliff rocks provides a scenic route that links the different beaches, and from here you get the best view of the walled city of St Malo across the bay.

 


Hennebont

(50 miles – 1 hour from Ménéac)

the stones of Hennebont, a little town on the left bank of the River Blavet, are proof of its long and rich history. Its key geographical position, with its access to the river and the sea, made it a trading crossroads and one of the most coveted strongholds in Brittany.
On entering Hennebont make over to the stairs leading up to the ramparts where a walkway leads into the town. The tourist information office in the centre of the small town are very informative and helpful, and will provide you with further information on the National Stud Farm, the botanical gardens, and the quay side walk. They offer a free street map which will help you find your way around.

In August 1944, during the Allied invasion of Brittany, a large section of the old walled town, especially the ramparts, towers and medieval buildings, sustained major damage during the bombing of German positions entrenched in the downtown area.

Market day is Thursday and many shops are closed on Mondays.

 


Josselin

(15 miles – 20 mins from Ménéac)

the most striking feature of this charming medieval town is its mighty three towered chateau that dominates and reflects in the banks of the Oust. Within the Castle stables is housed the Musee des Poupees.
There are several streets lined with 16th and 17th century housing, and one of the best preserved houses the excellent Toursit Information Office. There is a fine selection of restaurants and pavement cafes where you can relax around the square and watch the world go by. Alternatively, if you fancy a little more action, you can hire bikes and explore the good quality canal paths, or hire a boat.

Key dates are, Medieval Festival on Bastille day (July the 14th), and Pardon on the 8th of September. In summer you can climb the church tower for stunning views of the Chateau, town and wider countryside.

St Meriadek is said to have founded a chapel there during the 4th century. Much later Josslein became a stronghold of the House of Rohan.

An alternative explanation for the location of the chapel concerns a labourer who in 808 discovered a wooden statue in the brambles which enabled his hitherto blind daughter to see. A chapel was constructed on the site of this miracle which subsequently grew into a church (parts of which date back to the twelfth century). A fresco in the church now recalls the Combat of the Thirty summarized below.

In 1351, during the Breton War of Succession (part of the Hundred Years’ War), two groups of approximately 30 English knights (led by Robert Bramborough, the English captain of Ploërmel) and Franco-Breton knights (commanded by Jean de Beaumanoir, captain of Josselin) staged an arranged combat at a spot halfway between the Chateau de Josselin and Ploërmel. The Franco-Breton side eventually won after killing or capturing the English force, including Bramborough. This episode was later known as the Combat of the Thirty.

There is a lively Saturday Market.

 


La Baule

(65 miles – 1 hour 45 mins from Ménéac)

if you want a longer day trip to a larger resort, then La Baule fits the bill, as one of the most famous sea side resorts on the Atlantic coast. The coast line which includes La Baule, Pornichet and Le Pouliguen, forms an almost uninterrupted stretch of seafront some 9 miles long. La Baule is an upmarket resort which consists of luxury hotels, a casino, magnificent villas, all fronted by a fine white sandy beach.

As one of France’s most exclusive seaside resorts, during the first half of the 20th century, La Baule has become much more democratized since the 1960s. Today the resort mixes wealthy family villas, luxury hotels and seaside apartment buildings, creating an original and unique atmosphere of social diversity. The nearby region has long been an area of contact and conflict between Breton culture and that of the neighbouring Loire valley, and consequently is rich with historic places, castles (Nantes castle), walled cities (Guerande), not to mention 19th century seaside resorts, such as Quiberon, and many typical Breton fishing villages (Pornichet).

The main beach is home to several sailing and leisure clubs for children. The tide goes out a long way and this exposes a huge area of firm sand that forms a perfect playground. You can walk or ride along the promenade. Beach huts can be rented in the summer and La Baule Nautique rents sailing dinghies or motor boats by the day. It is also possible to canter along the sand on horseback, there are several equestrian centres offering special rates for a one hour ride on the beach.
La Baule’s marina and former fishing harbour, Le Pouliguen, is still a busy port and retains its original narrow winding streets. The resort is famous for its shady 15 acre park the Bois d’Amour (the wood of love), a favourite for walking and playing games such as boules.

 


La Roche-Bernard

(50 miles – 1 hour 15 mins from Ménéac)

has been popular since Bernhardt, a Viking chief, realised its strategic potential as a port, and the sheltered anchorage is now a favourite with yachtsmen.
This quaint and pretty town clings to the rocky cliff face overlooking the Vilaine estuary. As well as the little streets around Place du Bouffay, there is a museum of maritime history.
La Maison de l’Abeille is an interesting and educational trip through the world of the bee, with a shop supplying honey. For the nautical, there are trips on a traditional sailing ship on the river Vilaine.
La Roche-Bernard has been designated a Petite Cité de Caractère (small town of character) in recognition of its historic nature, and is well worth a visit. There is a boat restaurant, where you can conveniently combine a good meal with boat tour of the Gulf.
There is an excellent range of restaurants and the old quarter is packed with charming flower-decked houses, and has become an artists quarter attracting crafts people displaying pottery, paintings, leatherware etc. There are regular craft markets where the resident artisans combine with visiting artists who set up street stalls to bring together some of the best qualitycraft items in Brittany.
A graceful suspension bridge spans the river, replacing an earlier version accidentally destroyed when lightning struck a German ammunition base.

 


La Trinité-sur-Mer

(60 miles – 1 hour 20 mins from Ménéac)

La Trinite, the former port of Carnac, has become world famous as the champions’ yachting port. This is where Eric Tabarly and his successors experienced their moments of glory before they collected prizes around the world.
The Trinite marina has berths for 1,000 yachts and is always full. Races, regattas and parades of tall ships are held throughout the year.

 


Lizio

(24 miles – 40 mins from Ménéac)

a Petite Cite de Caractere. A pretty village with lovely stone houses, and an amazing variety of things to do. Nearby is the Insectarium and the ecomusee of old French life.

 


Locmariaquer

(60 miles – 1 hour 20 mins from Ménéac)

Locmariaquer has a small port, but is one of the most important oyster producing areas in the world, due to its production of the finest and possibly the rarest oyster types.

This pretty oyster port guarding the neck of the Golfe du Morbihan rivals Carnac in archaeological importance. Its main sites lie in a fenced compound north of the village. They include a huge menhir on its side, broken in four sections.

Land of legends and mysteries, Locmariaquer is home to a remarkable concentration of megaliths. Just like nearby Carnac, the city holds unique and rare monuments dating from the Neolithic period. Here men have left a legacy of prestigious burial structures prefiguring the era of the great pyramids. The Great Menhir of Er Grah, the Table of Merchants, the mounds of Er Grah and many other monuments decorate the landscape of Locmariaquer.

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Lorient

(60 miles – 1 hour 10 mins from Ménéac)

a great place to visit on a Sunday – it has a lovely market and a very good beach at L’amour Plage.A wide variety of different types of restaurants/bars. The revitalised dock land and state of the art fish market at Lorient makes for an interesting spectacle on its vast harbour. Boat trips to Ile de Groix and Belle Ile are a popular excursion from Lorient.
The fishing port is immense (second largest in France) and worth a visit for the auction of the morning catch. The old submarine base, originally built by the Germans, is now deserted – the last sub left in 1997. The tourist office arranges daily visits. Alternatively, there are visits to the Victor Pleven, a trawler once used for cod fishing off Newfoundland.

Lorient plays host to important yacht races each year and the Festival Interceltique takes place the first fortnight of August. Uniting Celtic peoples from the British Isles, Spain and Brittany, the festival draws more than 4,500 artists and musicians every year for traditional music and dancing in the streets. Cider, crêpes and cotriade (fish stew) are on sale around the fishing harbour, complete with Astérix-style village. The festival is highly recommended, but with over 300,000 people attending, it can get crowded.

 


Malestroit

(25 miles – 40 mins from Ménéac)

also known as the ‘pearl of the west’, which indicates something of its attractiveness. Its old quarters are exceptionally well preserved with gabled merchant houses of stone and timber. The church of St-Gilles is also worth a look. It was originally built in the 12th century, and modified in the 16th century.
The village is on the Nantes-Brest Canal and makes an ideal starting point for strolls/cycles along the canal tow-path.
In summer you can hire a motor boat from Canal Loc56 – boats take up to five persons.
 
The canal is a delightful place to spend a little time, and you can watch the barges as they moor up near the centre of Malestroit. It is possible to hire a boat yourself to explore the waterway, and this is a pleasant and different way to discover the area. The nearby village of St. Marcel is an interesting spot to visit, and it houses a museum dedicated to the Breton Resistance movement. This is located on the ground where a battle against the Nazis took place, the battle having been won by the Resistance fighters.
 
On Thursday mornings a large market fills the church offering huge quantities of local seafood and regional produce.

 


Le Mont-Saint-Michel

(70 miles – 1 hour 20 mins from Ménéac)

Le Mont Saint Michel is an 11th century Gothic masterpiece that rises majestically from its own little rocky island in the Bay of St Malo has been a place of pilgrimage for well over a thousand years, and is one of France’s major tourist attractions.

Because of this huge popularity, the medieval village that nestles around the base of Mont St Michel, and most certainly the abbey itself, is best visited in the evening when large numbers of the day-trippers have departed. This is when you can stroll the ramparts in relative peace and appreciate the full splendour of the views. If you intend to do a morning visit, you should arrive by 9am for the English tour of the Abbey at 10am.

Later you can enjoy a relaxing meal as the tide comes in against the backdrop of a spectacular sunset. You may also catch one of the amazing sound and light shows that are frequently held here on summer evenings.

 


Ploërmel

(16 miles – 30 mins from Ménéac)

Ploërmel takes its name from Armel, a 6th century English monk but little remains of its illustrious past. The St Armel church has some fine stained glass and granite tombstones in the transept. The astronomical clock, classed as a national monument, was built in the 19th century and has 10 panels depicting the solar system. The Maison de Marmousets in Rue Beaumanoir is the most famous landmark in the town and has some marvellous wood sculptures on its facade. The old town has a variety of cafés and restaurants as well as a market on Friday mornings.

Lac au Duc

lies just outside the town and is the largest natural lake in Brittany. It has a man-made sandy beach with supervised lake swimming (summer). Sailing, water-skiing and pedalos are available. There is also a small restaurant and café. Golf (9 holes), tennis and fishing are also available. Alongside the lake runs the ‘Voie verte’ a 53km cycle track open to everyone to enjoy cycling, hiking, roller blading or just strolling. You can also enjoy a stroll around the way-marked Hortensia (Hydrangeas) Trail.

 


Pontivy

(30 miles – 40 mins from Ménéac)

Amazing buildings, great shops – especially the odd little ones up side streets. An evening walk along the canal really makes you forget the rest of the world. Monday is market day in Pontivy. The church of Basilique Notre Dame De Joie, in the centre of the town is well worth a look around.
Pontivy is in two halves – the medieval town with its fortified 15th century château overlooking the river and the regimented streets laid out to Napoléon’s plan. It was a military base and he renamed it Napoléonville. The old town, around Place du Martray, has narrow streets and overhanging wooden houses and a good Monday market.

 


Port-Louis

(60 miles – 1 hour 10 mins from Ménéac)

a small port on the coast, near Lorient, Port-Louis is known for its heavily fortified Citadel which is a flagship example of military architecture, and has an extraordinary view of the harbour. The Citadel was originally built by the Spanish.
The Port-Louis Citadel is now home to the National Maritime Museum, where you will find an excellent collection of model ships, weapons and other historic models. You can also visit the museum dedicated to the history of the Indies Company.
In the Arsenal Room, there are displays of superb vintage models, as well as paintings and sculptures depicting French naval history from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. The Powder Keg Room houses a large collection of weapons.

There are several beaches in little coves both sides of the Citadel, but the largest beach is reached through a arch in the defensive wall, which also provides a good wind break and sheltered backdrop. The children will enjoy combing the beach for a wide variety of shells, and there is a beach front cafe serving snacks, crepes, drinks and ice cream – a touch expensive but with unparalleled and uninterrupted views of the sea and the Ile ou Groix laying just off shore.

 


Quiberon Peninsula

(70 miles – 1 hour 40 mins from Ménéac)

The resort of Quiberon at the far end of the peninsula is one of the Morbihan’s liveliest and most popular. Besides the good sandy beaches it is also the ferry terminal for Belle-Ile and is always crowded in the summer. There is every type of water sport to satisfy the most ardent enthusiast.

The Quiberon peninsular was once an island linked to the mainland by a string of dunes. Lovers of solitude can lose themselves walking along the Cote Sauvage (wild coast). The peninsular has a string of lovely beaches, just drive along and you are sure to find a spot you like. You can park at the end of the peninsular to walk around the headland.

Saint-Pierre-Quiberon is 3 miles north of Quiberon. This small resort has lovely sandy beaches. Since 1966 the National Sailing School has been based here, and it is one of the leading training centres in Europe. There is also a sand yachting club.

 


Quimper

(98 miles – 1 hour 40 mins from Ménéac)

The town lies in the neighbouring region of Finistere, and is the oldest town in Brittany. It has a rustic atmosphere with charming footbridges spanning the rivers that flow through it. The Church of Locmaria, a Romanesque structure, dates from the 11th century. The Cathedral of Saint-Corentin, with its magnificent Gothic-style façade, was constructed between the 13th and 16th centuries. It is the oldest Gothic structure in Lower Brittany. Its two towers are 250 feet tall; its spires were added in the 19th century. The 15th century stained glass windows are exceptional.

 

To the cathedral’s west are the pedestrianised streets of Vieux Quimper with a wide array of crêperies, half-timbered houses and shops. Near the Episcopal palace, which now holds the Musée départemental Breton [devoted to regional history, archaeology, ethnology and economy] are the ruins of the town’s 15th century walls. Nearby is the Musée des Beaux-Arts. The museum has a 19th century façade and an entirely rebuilt interior. It houses a collection of 14th to 21st century paintings that includes works by Boucher, Corot, Oudry and Rubens along with canvases by such Pont-Aven school painters as Bernard, Denis, Lacombe, Maufra and Sérusier.

The town is famous for its brightly painted pottery, which is sold at many of the gift shops.

 


Rennes

(40 miles – 45 mins from Ménéac)

The capital of Brittany is not a particularly large city, with 200,000 population, but 60,000 of those are students, which lends a lively feel to the place – and a high proportion of bars! The two universities in the city mean that Rennes is just as busy at night as it is by day. This is the cultural centre for the region, with the Breton Museum, The Musee des Beaux-Arts (fine art)and the National Theatre of Brittany. Entertainment is not confined to formal buildings, with street festivals and fairs held throughout the year.

Highlights for the day visitor include the wonderful architecture such as Brittany’s parliament building built in the 17th century and the timbered buildings, the oldest of which is the Auberge des Barrilieres built in 1580.
The Garden of Thabor is a 24 acre garden right in the town centre, and once belonged to an abbey.

Every Saturday morning there is a market in the Place des Lices, and it is one of the largest markets in France with an impressive flower market. There is no shortage of places to eat and drink. The Rue Saint Michel has been nicknamed the ‘Street of Thirst’ by locals due to the fact that nearly every building is a bar. The locals eat lunch at the pavement tables of the little restaurants centred on the old Town.

 


Rochefort-en-Terre

(35 miles – 55 mins from Ménéac)

The little village of Rochefort-en-Terre is utterly enchanting. Be sure to take your camera because this place is so photogenic. The sight of the houses huddled on top of a spur of shale overlooking a luxuriant green landscape seems to have come straight out of a fairy story. When you visit the village you may notice that there is not a television aerial or electricity pole in sight. The village is remarkably similar architecturally and seems to come from another age. Furthermore, its granite walls are brightened with huge banks of multicoloured flowers in boxes and baskets.

 

Most of the original chateau has now disappeared. The present house consists of 18thC buildings turned into a manor house. Four rooms are open to the public and a small regional museum displays items from local village life. There is an interesting antiques shop selling a huge range of local artifacts. Take a look at some of the remarkable buildings in the upper town, consisting of 15th, 16th, 17th and 18thC houses with carved granite window frames and corner turrets. A 6 mile way marked trail takes you from the village to the slate quarries of Malansac, besides a stream, through an oak wood and across moors – you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the Grees, the rocky hills around Rochefort. There are plenty of places to eat, Michelin recommend Le Pelican which is full of character in a 16th and 18th century house on the main street (meals 18-38€).

 


St-Malo

(59 miles – 1 hour 15 mins from Ménéac)

Founded in the 6th century by the Welsh monk Maclow. It is now amongst one of the most visited cities in the world.
Concealed behind the walls is an outstanding town, filled with places to visit. The coastline bristles with forts; it is also dotted with beautiful sandy beaches.
If you arrive by ferry, then St Malo is the nearest port for the Morbihan area. If you have some time on you hands, instead of rushing off with the rest of the ferry traffic, why not have a look around the most popular tourist town in Brittany?

 


Vannes

(45 miles – 1 hour from Ménéac)

A truly attractive town, and highly recommended for a day trip from La Maison Manoir – Wednesday or Saturday are best as you will experience the bustling street market and the centre of town is closed to traffic making strolling the streets an added pleasure. As with many medieval towns, it is much better to park the car and walk around, there is free parking along the quay-side. The busier it is the further you have to go from the centre of town.
Walk into town along the quay side. When you arrive at the Place Gambetta at the waters end you have a lovely paved area occuplied by restaurants more reminiscent of a mediteranian quay side. The fortified gate enterance into the town of Vannes lies in front of you.

Vannes hosted the 16th century summit when the Duchy of Brittany became united with France. Since then the old town, behind its ramparts, has remained more or less untouched. One guide book describes the old town as looking like an open-air museum.  There is one point near the Cathedral where the overhanging houses on the two sides of the street almost touch. A guided tour from the tourist office is a good idea as there is so much to see. You can catch a small tourist train which takes you on a tour of Vannes in about 30 mins between Easter and October 15th (except Wednesdays and Saturdays as the market blocks the streets).

All around the cathedral is worth exploring with the ancient houses, Musée des Beaux Arts and the old streets with some very chic shops. There are hundreds of small specialist shops, so if shopping is your thing you can spend many hours just exploring them.
The old washing area, or Vieux Lavoirs, is to be found in the beautifully laid out formal gardens and lawns in front of the old ramparts. These old city walls are among the best preserved in France. On a hot day young children will enjoy taking off shoes & socks and spending far too long paddling barefoot in the shallow river, especially when they discover visitors are in the habit of throwing coins into the water!

The quay side area has undergone considerable redevelopment and improvement in recent years. There is now a new cafe with first floor open air terrace. Nearby, a bank of self-hire city cycles has popped up. It is one of many other cycle stations around the city, housing 180 bikes in all, supplied by a UK company.

Along with the archaeology museum and old houses there is a leisure park Parc du gulf near the gare maritim. This has a butterfly farm and an aquarium and provides a departure point for boat trips to the gulf islands, in particular the Ile d’Arz.. There is a free park and ride shuttle bus provided that links to the Port and Conleau, the nearest sandy beach. You can either park here and then catch the bus to Vannes Town or the beach, or do it the other way around and catch the bus at the west quay side in Vannes. We would not recommend trying to drive to Conleau unless it is off season or you are very early – there is not much parking and it quickly becomes congested with those hoping to find a parking space. Conleau has a small sandy beach and huge salt water swimming pool; each time the tide comes the water is retained behind a wall.