Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
The Gulf of Morbihan is a lovely destination to visit in France in the summer. Located on France’s Atlantic Coast, in the region of Brittany, the Gulf of Morbihan is well known for its beautiful landscapes, rich history, and sweet life.
Unlike other parts of Brittany, summers in the Gulf of Morbihan are hot and sunny. The Gulf of Morbihan has a special microclimate that warms the sea, and its geography protects its many islands and islets from the vagaries of the wild ocean.
The Gulf of Morbihan Brittany is listed as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, just like Ha Long in Vietnam or San Francisco Bay in the United States.
We have listed 7 fun things to do in the Gulf of Morbihan France – from beautiful islands to picturesque towns or historic sites – that are not to be missed during a visit to Morbihan.
How to Get to Morbihan in Brittany
The Gulf of Morbihan is easiest reached by car, but public transportation is also available. Direct TGV train services to Vannes operate throughout the year from Paris, Lille, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, or Nantes. From Lyon, you need to change trains in Rennes – Click here to buy your train tickets to Vannes
The Gulf of Morbihan is best explored by car. Go off the main routes and explore those quiet coastal villages, off-the-beaten-path châteaux, or secluded beaches that you can’t reach by public transport. If you don’t have a car in France, you can travel to Vannes by train and then rent one in Vannes – Click here to rent your car in Vannes
By Ferry from the UK
The closest ports to Morbihan are Roscoff and Saint-Malo, with several crossings UK – France per week –Click here to book your Ferry to Brittany
Where to Sleep in Morbihan
We recommend setting your base camp in Vannes, Morbihan’s main administrative center. From Vannes, you can visit other places in Morbihan on day trips. Vannes is a lovely city with beautiful medieval architecture and a good choice of hotels and restaurants. In the summer, the area around the port is especially lively.
For a unique stay in Vannes, book at the htel Best Western Plus Vannes Bord de Mer. This hotel is located on the shore of Conleau Beach – just a 5-minute drive from the center of Vanes -, and it has spacious rooms with sea views, beautiful gardens, beach access, 2 restaurants, and a bar.
Other good hotels in Vannes are:
Top Things to Do in the Gulf of Morbihan, Brittany
Here’s the list of top things to do in the Gulf of Morbihan, France. This Morbihan bucket list includes some landmarks, picturesque towns, and natural wonders.
Visit Medieval Vannes
Vannes is one of France’s best-preserved medieval cities. This walled city with views over the Gulf of Morbihan is the best place to start your wanderings in this part of Brittany.
A stroll around Vannes’ Old Town is a must. The city center boasts beautiful medieval architecture of half-timbered houses, private mansions, and religious buildings. In some places, you can also climb up to the top of the walls for some great views.
Outside the walls, there’s the marina which is also great for an afternoon stroll or a harbor-side meal to get a taste of Brittany’s gastronomy.
We have listed Vannes as one of the top underrated cities to visit in France, and we are sure you will love it!
Explore Ile-aux-Moines by Bike
Nestled in the Gulf of Morbihan, which protects it from the strongest winds and waves, Ile-aux-Moines is one of our favorite French islands on the Atlantic coast and an ideal day trip from Vannes.
Ile-aux-Moines is best explored by bike, with different bike circuits crossing the island. You can carry your bike on the ferry or rent one right out of the port on the island.
Ile-aux-Moines is also great for a relaxing beach day or a hiking day. There are a few stone alignments and other historic landmarks to visit too.
Ferries to Ile-aux-Moines leave from Port Blanc every 30 minutes. From there, it is 5 min to the island.
Learn about the Mysterious Carnac Alignments
Carnac is an exceptional site of megalithic alignments of more than 3,000 menhirs over more than 4 kilometers. These menhirs, erected between 6,000 and 2,000 AD, are found in 4 sites: Le Ménec, Kermario, Kerlascan, and Le Petit Ménec. Still today, archaeologists don’t know the exact purpose of these alignments.
The Carnac Alignments is one of the most famous French landmarks, and one of the top things to do in Morbihan. We recommend starting the visit with the short introductory video proposed at La Maison des Mégalithes. Here, you can also book a guided tour to see the alignments.
Sunday Mood on Ile d’Arz
There are many islands to visit in the Gulf of Morbihan, each with its own character. Ile d’Arz is the second-largest island in this area, and it is perfect for hiking or a lazy day on the beach with a picnic lunch. There is a sailing school too.
You can do the whole tour of the island on foot, but there are also some shortcuts through different neighborhoods.
Here, we don’t recommend biking because the coastal path is thought mainly for pedestrians, and in some places, you will end up carrying the bike on your shoulder.
Ferries to Ile d’Arz leave from Vannes Conleau (15min), Vannes Parc du Golfe (30 min) and Séné (15 min). In the summer, the last ferries back to Vannes are very busy so be sure to arrive at the port well in advance.
Visit the Château de Largoët
We found these picturesque ruins by chance on our way from Paris to Vannes. Also known as Tours d’Elven, Château de Largoët is a medieval site built between the 13th and 15th centuries in the village of Elven, 13 km from Vannes.
One of our favorite castles in Brittany, Château de Largoët consists of an octagonal keep 45 high (one of the highest in France) and a round tower with cannon openings on the first level and covered by a hexagonal building.
Take the time to explore the site, which still keeps part of the medieval enclosure, the ruins of a chapel, and a gatehouse from the 13th century. The views from the pond are lovely.
Get Lost in Rochefort en Terre
Rochefort-en-Terre is a picturesque medieval village located in the Morbihan department, 36 km east of Vannes. It has beautiful architecture, little squares, cobbled streets, and many listed historic buildings.
Rochefort was put on the map thanks to an American painter born in France, Alfred Klotz, who bought the town’s château at the beginning of the 20th century. This 12th-century château was totally in ruins, and Klotz restored it and turned it into a museum for his paintings and other objects from rural life in the past.
Klotz also encouraged Rochefort’s inhabitants to decorate their houses with geraniums, a colorful tradition still in use today. In 2016, Rochefort was chosen the French’s favorite village in the popular TV show ‘Village Préféré des Français’.
Stroll through the Charming Port of Saint-Goustan
The port of Saint-Goustan is located in the town of Auray, in a ria in the Gulf of Morbihan on the Auray River. It takes its name from Saint-Goustan, the saint patron of sailors and fishermen.
Once an important trading port, Saint-Goustan hosts today pleasure boats. The port is surrounded by beautiful medieval architecture, and it is very pleasant for a stroll or some drinks on a terrace when the sun shines.
Don’t miss the flea markets and craft markets on the Quai Franklin all year round. This quay honors Benjamin Franklin, who in 1776 was forced by the wind to disembark at Auray on his way to Nantes to ask France for help to obtain American independence.
Once you are done with sightseeing, you can rent a kayak to navigate the rivers of Auray and Bono, which later meet to flow into the Gulf of Morbihan.