A trip through Brittany to see its many and variedsites and vistas can only be done by driving a car. The traffic in the largest cities is easily managed and the backroads are well paved. French drivers are careful and polite. Of recent years more superhighways have reduced much interpoint time and the advent of GPS is a godsend, but careful study of town maps still relieves driving tension. Be sure to have lots of one euro coins for parking and a credit card for gasoline. Spending a little more on a roomier car (and trunk) is comfortable and safer, especially a medium station wagon for 4 people as a travel group. If you come to France from far off as we do, you usually start and end in Paris. We take a car at the airport (Orly is preferred) and establish our jet-lag in a nearby city in the Ile or further (Chartres?), keep at it as long as possible sightseeing, sleep, arise for late dinner and sleep the night. Then on we go. We either return at the end to the airport (last night at a nearby site) or end in Paris a few days before departing. Here it is essential to rent a car with a drop-off at the garage under the Esplanade before the Hotel des Invalides. One should stay at a hotel within walking distance of this spot, leaving your luggage before the car return. (We prefer the Hotel La Bourdonnaise on the av. of that name). (See Tip). The traffic from the peripherique to those points is easy to manage.
There are many ways to arrive in France from the UK. It seems that most travellers prefer to take their own cars and have the convenience of getting from A to B ( which can be a long way ) in their own vehicles which makes a lot a lot of sense.
If on arriving you have a long drive in front of you then you need to arrive refreshed. Choosing the right ferry company and the departure and arrival time are crucial to a safe journey. Most ferry companies realise this and schedule arrivals in France for the early morning. However, for a real rest you need to book a cabin so that you can lie down in a bed for a few hours, cabins need to be booked early before the trip as they are soon taken.
The next best option is to book a sleeper or reclining seat, preferably a sleeper. Reclining seats are not necessarily the most comfortable but they are at least in an area seperate from the main areas which are a lot quieter.
It would be as well to see if you can travel outside of the peak weekend days, particularly Fridays and Saturdays. This will not only give you the chance to have a more relaxing crossing but it will also save you a lot of money. We were very happy with our choice of LD lines
Buses are better for journeys through the region. The only railway connecting the North to the South goes from Brest to Quimper.
On the contrary, buses can take you to every village, even the smallest one.
Bretagne is connected to Paris through TGVs (high-speed trains).
The travel time from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes is 2 hours, to Brest 4 hours. TGVs also connect Paris to Quimper (Southern Bretagne). The high-speed line will be extended from Le Mans to Rennes. Works should start in 2009 and, once in service, the new line will connect Paris to Brest in just 3 hours.
TER regional trains are very good to move within the region.
It is true! We took the train to South Finistére. It wa such an interesting tour. Started in Nuremberg to Paris, Paris to Quimper. The last with cab. 16 hours, of course, and with an short stay in Paris.
It´s important to have or rent a car in Brittany. We did rent one there, not even at home. It was low prized, best without kilometer limit. But you have to pay at start and to give a bond (same like prize).
Do pictures of the car (with date) at start ! So you will not have a bad surprise at the end.
On the Island, you need to pay 2euros to entre this bus, wich takes you to and from the Boat once you are on the Island. However, your money finishes at the tourism office where you either walk or rent a bicycle to contnue the adventure on the Island.
Compagne Maritime -PENN AR BED provides a tour of three of the Islands..Ouessant, Sein, and Molène. On this occassion, I made my stop at Ile d'Ouessant. It is quite interesting to have a sea cruise in one of this boats. I did enjoyed my cruise to Ouessant.
I find it more convinient to travel to this region using a private car. The first time I was in Brest, it was by air, and I didnt see much of Bretagne. Driving from Paris, is more fun, as you get to see a lot of places on the way. You also have the choice of stoping over wherever you so wish.
Brittany ferries is the only ferry operator from Britain to Bretagne.
Ferries depart from Plymouth, Portmouth, & also Southern Ireland. French ports of St Malo & Roscoff service the Breton region.
It takes between 5 to 7 hours from the English ports. Prices are not cheap & have gone up considerably over the past 5 years or so, But unless you want the long drive to Dover, Brittany Ferries it is. We always get a cabin, time goes so much quicker & helps with sea sickness.
Ferrys run from Roscoff harbour to the gorgeous Ile de Batz at least every half hour. A return ticket costs 6 euros & it itales about 10 - 15 minutes to reach the tiny harbour on the Island.
The bay at Roscoff is trecherous with rocks & many tiny islands which are underwater at high tide. We went over at low tide & these ferry men really have to know what they are doing to avoid hitting rocks just below the surface
Brittany is served by two main train lines. The North coast one comes from Paris and serves Rennes, st Brieuc, Morlaix before finishing in Brest. The South coast one, still from Paris, serves Nantes, Vannes, Lorient and finishes in Quimper. Both run high-speed trains (TGV) which means that the 600 km from Paris to Brest are done in 4 hours. All trains to Brittany leave from the Montparnasse station in Paris.
There are also a number of regional trains that can take you to more remote places. In particular, there is a train line between Brest and Quimper that links the two main lines. However, the train frequency on that line is not very high because there are coach lines that do the same route and are actually faster.
Brittany has an excellent road network built around a few dual carriageway roads, where the speed limit is 110 km/h. This is what the French call "voie express". It is faster than a main road but is not quite a motorway. The good news is that Brittany is the only region in France where there is not a single toll paying motorway, while having roads that are in fact motorways in every respect but the name.
Local folklore has it that the reason for not having a single paying road in Brittany is that, when Anne de Bretagne married the French king and hence brought Brittany to the crown of France, one of the articles in the marriage contract stipulated that a tax would never be levied on the Breton people for road usage. Whether this is true or not, the way toll paying motorways coming form Paris give way to non-paying dual-carriageways a few hundred metres before the "welcome to Brittany" sign makes one wonder.
Moving around most towns in Bretagne is by bus..Its cheap, and always available. Unlike Paris, metro is not very popular here, and it is just very convinient to go round with the bus.
We rented a boat and cruised on a river, the Mayenne. There are lots of little locks where you have to go through. It was a lot of fun!
This is a modern but beautifully decorated hotel as you can see in the photo. The room was larger...more
lovely place very near the train station of Vannes, central to all, and good bus transport into...more
We stayed there in early Aug 2007 and enjoyed our stay there, The photos on the website do it...more