Carnac
Carnac. Photo credit: CRTB

Brittany is famed for its sea-faring history, its unique culture, and of course its fabulous seafood, but there is so much more to the region beyond this. One of Europe’s most impressive prehistoric stone circles stands here, there are some extraordinarily flamboyant parish churches, a 16th-century sea fort with many intriguing stories to tell; there are grand castles, wonderful gardens and ancient forests to explore… You would never see it all if you spent a lifetime there, so if we had to limit ourselves to just 12 places to visit on a holiday, this is where we would go…

[Related article: Brittany Calling]

Carnac (56)

France’s most famous ancient megaliths are spread across three fields – Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan – and are free to visit. The granite stones were stood where they were dug from the earth, but still nobody knows why. www.carnactourism.co.uk.

Château du Taureau
Château du Taureau. Photo credit: GPO

Château du Taureau (29)

This offshore fort was built in the 16th century to protect the coastline beyond Morlaix from the English, whose ships had attacked Cherbourg and then Morlaix after the failure of the meeting of the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. www.chateaudutaureau.com.

Enclos St Thegonnec
Enclos St Thegonnec. Photo credit: CRTB/ Bernard Begne

Flamboyant Churches (29)

Unfamiliar to outsiders, Enclos Paroissiaux are flamboyant parish churches built in the 16th century when linen merchants competed to show their wealth. Download the free audioguide and follow the circuit. www.tourisme-morlaix.fr

Brocéliande sword
Brocéliande sword. Photo credit: CRTB/ Donatienne Guillaudeau

Brocéliande Forest (35)

Just outside Rennes, this forest has always been associated with the legend of King Arthur. It’s a fabulous natural site that now boasts a new visitor centre in Paimpont, plus standing stones further south, in Monteneuf (56). www.portedessecrets-broceliande.com.

Huelgoat Forest
Huelgoat Forest. Photo credit: CRTB/ Pierre Torset

Huelgoat Forest (29)

Children will absolutely love this place with its giant, mossy boulders, woodland and disappearing paths. It is free to explore, and you could spend hours here, so bring a picnic, suncream, comfortable shoes, and some plasters for scraped knees! www.huelgoat-carhaix-tourisme.com/fr

Scorff Valley
Scorff Valley. Photo credit: CRTB/ Alexandre Lamoureux

Scorff Valley (56)

Another incredible natural site, the Scorff Valley includes 400km of signed trails that run between woodlands and rivers. Come to soak up the silence and tranquillity, or paddle in a canoe and try to spot an otter or two in the riverbanks. www.syndicat-scorff.fr

Château de Fougères
Château de Fougères. Photo credit: CRTB/ Donatienne Guillaudeau

Château de Fougères (35)

One of the region’s must-see castles, Fougères’ interactive visit takes you back to medieval life inside and outside, and in its three towers. Fougères always leaves visitors with a lasting impression. www.chateau-fougeres.fr

Domaine de Trévarez
Domaine de Trévarez. Photo credit: CRTB/ E Bozec

Domaine de Trévarez (29)

You will be stunned by the pink fairytale turrets of Trévarez, while the famously well-maintained parkland here sets the castle off to great effect. Yet this site isn’t really about recreating life in a castle – it’s more about exhibitions and exploring. www.cdp29.fr

Château de Vitré
Château de Vitré. Photo credit: CRTB/ Emmanuel Berthier

Château de Vitré (35)

The town itself is an historical gem of timbered buildings and quaint streets, whose iconic 13th-century château rises from the skyline. Allow at least an hour and a half to visit the château, but do leave time to head out and explore the town as well. http://en.bretagne-vitre.com

Château de Josselin
Château de Josselin. Photo credit: CRTB/ Emmanuel Berthier

Château de Josselin (56)

Incredibly, this beautifully-maintained stately home, overlooking its peaceful gardens and the Oust River, has remained in the famous Rohan family through the centuries. The town itself is just off the N24 and has an attractive historical centre. www.chateaudejosselin.com

Château de la Hunaudaye
Château de la Hunaudaye. Photo credit: David Lefeuvre

Château de la Hunaudaye (22)

This mostly-ruined castle surrounded by a moat will inspire imaginative children with various levels, steps and nooks to explore. Tucked away between Dinan and Saint-Brieuc, its towers create an imposing outline. www.la-hunaudaye.com

The Gardens of La Ballue (35)

Visitors come not for the 17th-century château but for the topiary and planting of the gardens, which are officially ‘remarkable’. Alternatively, you could come to stay at their B&B and feel like royalty! www.la-ballue.com

From France Today magazine

The Gardens of La Ballue
The Gardens of La Ballue. Photo credit: CRTB/ Yannick Le Gal
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