France has some of the most beautiful walking trails, and one of its iconic routes, the GR34, runs for almost 1800 kilometers (1118 miles) along the Brittany coastline. The route starts at Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy and continues all around the bow of Brittany until it reaches Arzal, Morbihan. Dunes and beaches, rocky headlands, lighthouses and forts—there is nothing this beautiful trail doesn’t have. It’s hard to pick highlights from the Sentier des Douaniers, but certainly some of the most breathtaking and romantic stretches include the view from Monts d’Arrée and the Crozon Peninsula.
Beauport Abby occupies a beautiful, coastal spot between the Breton towns of Lannion and Saint-Brieuc. It has been a French historic monument since 1862 and is a well-cared-for site, with beautiful remains of stone archways, a refectory, acellar and more still standing proudly looking out over the coast. It is a reasonable €6 to visit (family tickets and reductions available), and to team it with a walk along the coastal path just a stone’s-throw away makes for a simple yet romantic day.
Abbaye De Beauport, Place de Kérity, Paimpol, France, +33 296 551 858
Brittany has many islands off its coast, but Île de Batz just off the coast from Roscoff is particularly romantic. There are numerous ferries connecting this sweet isle with the mainland all year round (though more frequently in high season) and it’s the perfect place for a romantic day trip, for an even slower pace and stunning surroundings. A highlight of the island is its botanical garden, Le Jardin Georges Delaselle. This mini oasis of plants from all over the world feels happily out of place in the North of France—especially if you’re visiting in the warmer months, it feels like it could be the French Riviera. If you want to prolong your stay, Les Herbes Folles is a sweet hotel and restaurant, ideally situated right where the boats dock.
Dinan is a real highlight of Brittany and has one of the most beautifully preserved old towns you’ll find. Cobbled streets, timbered houses and crêperies on almost every corner make this the perfect romantic nest for a few days. It’s small, of course, but there is a bustle (especially during the warmer months) to its ebbing-and-flowing feel that’ll completely delight. Brittany really knows how to do port towns and Dinan’s quay, lined with restaurants and small shops, is as alluring as its historic quarter. Stay in the center, in one of its many bijou hotels, and enjoy strolling the quaint streets and exploring on foot.
Roads don’t get more romantic than this. The Quiberon Peninsula, jutting out into the sea for 14.5 kilometers (9 miles), is home to the Côte Sauvage, the Wild Coast. For about eight kilometers (4.9 miles), a small road hugs this dramatic coastline, so close to the water you can almost reach out and touch it. Make the pretty seaside resort of Quiberon your base, but then hop in your car and explore the peninsula. Head to Le Vivier restaurant to finish your day with a table for two, with the freshest seafood and a view of the setting sun that’ll be hard to beat.
A vast, impressive castle (considered the largest in Europe) is naturally fortified by its elevated position and boasts incredible views over the Brittany countryside. Château de Fougeres is a ready-made yet sill authentic, romantic day out near the Normandy border. You know the type… When you want a lovely day out but without the hassle of organising everything. Tickets start at €8.50 and this includes a free, 90-minute tour. With most of the castle being open-air, make sure to visit on a sunny day, finishing up with a local meal in the Fougères old town.
Château de Fougères, Place Pierre Symon, Fougères, France, +33 299 997 959
It’s hard to believe this spot isn’t in the Caribbean. Happily it’s on Brittany’s west coast in the beautiful Armorique Regional Park. This is the perfect, most romantic beach spot in Brittany to while away the hours. The descent feels a bit like being in the famous Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach, as it only allows glimpses of this beautiful cove until you reach the beach at the bottom. Stay at the delightful Maison à l’île Vierge cottage, the only accommodation choice nearby.
Port cities often have bad reputations, but for Saint-Malo this couldn’t be further from the truth. The old town is enclosed by tall granite walls and its beach remains unspoiled and inviting; the perfect destination for a romantic getaway. Other than exploring the old town’s winding streets (and sharing a crepe at Crêperie Le Tournesol, of course) make sure you head to Le Grand Bé, a small, rocky island with a fort that’s reachable at low tide.
Villages don’t get much quainter than Sauzon, a port village on the pretty island of Belle-Île. The island lies off the coast of Quiberon and should definitely be on your list of places for a romantic stay. Most importantly, make sure you choose Sauzon at the northern point as your base. The pastel-fronted village itself is filled with little cafés and shops and there are endless trails to explore, both round the harbor and out further into the island.
No town gets more romantic than one that has its own castle and Josselin is just that place. The Château de Josselin lies right on the river, with the town center just a little behind. The town itself is as picturesque as you’d expect. Place Notre Dame is the prettiest square for a stroll so make sure to share a crepe there. However, the real highlights are the views from the castle and its position on the river. A walk along the Rue du Canal, which is just the right size for two, is delightful whether day or night.