Brittany in France

Brittany Indoors

La Maison de l'Automobile

Twenty minutes or so away from the gites, at Loheac the huge Manoir de l'Automobile has 15000m2 of exhibitions and over four hundred immaculate vehicles. It's a great visit for everybody. There are cars from every walk of life all lovingly cared for. You can see the really old stuff right up to the modern F1 cars. In fact there's a whole Formula One starting grid on display as well and there's often racing on the circuit as well. Go-karting and quad bike racing are also available

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Machines de L'Ile

This is an odd place but very interesting and well worth the trip. Set in the former shipyards of Nantes you can go and discover some extraordinary machines. There's the huge mechanical elephant which is over twelve metres high and can carry fifty passengers on a tour of the Ile de Nantes. From the inside you'll see all the moving gears, make the elephant trumpet and even control some of its movements. Travelling high up on its back is like being four storeys up on a moving house. The views of the River Loire are amazing, an unforgettable experience

Move on from there to the large Gallery Of Machines which is a 'living exhibition' where artisans bring to life a whole host of beasts from sea monsters to dragons

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Machines de l'ileBrittany cottages

The Resistance Museum

This exhibition is located about ten minutes away from the gites on the outskirts of Malestroit. It's a modern well presented museum charting the darker days of the second world war when the Germans had a large base at Malestroit. It describes the course of events from the occupation to the formation of the Resistance and finally to the huge Allied parachute drop that liberated the town and surrounding area

There's loads of exhibits from tobacco tins to full size tanks. You can take a trip in an armoured personnel carrier or if you prefer watch the old footage in one of the cinemas -English subtitles. The whole place is very well done and extremely interesting

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La Maison des Paludiers

Brittany's salt workers....... Now I know that this sounds a bit dull, but really it's not. The town of Guerande is internationally famous for its hand harvested salt and the industry there dates back over a millennia with the skills being handed down through families generation after generation

The area surrounding the town is covered in man-made salt marshes that are flooded once a month by the high tide. The Paludiers -salt workers- then harvest the salt by hand. This may sound simple but the whole process of building and maintaining the special salt marshes and lagoons right through to the actual harvesting of the salt is a long, complicated and highly skilled job. The resulting salt is like none other on earth and is used in the top restaurants of the world


The Maison des Paludiers takes you through the whole experience -in English- with a series of films and demonstrations. You can also visit one of the working lagoons and see the salt being stacked, harvested, dried and readied for sale

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The Transatlantic Liner

Inside two huge bays of the former submarine base at Saint Nazaire the 'ocean liner' L'Escal Atlantic takes you on a journey back to the hey-day of the glamorous transatlantic liners. Covering three levels and 3,500 square metres of exhibition space L'Escal Atlantic totally re-creates the atmosphere and the interior of an actual liner, many of which were built in Saint-Nazaire including La Normandie and La France

Embarking is like joining an early twentieth century cruise ship on an actual transatlantic crossing. Visitors become passengers who discover cabins and staterooms, feel the 'wind of the open sea' on the promenade deck, experience the noise and heat of the engine room and maybe enjoy a leisurely drink in the liner's bar... But beware, the end of the voyage might not be as relaxed as you would expect- these ships can sink...luckily there are lifeboats !

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Submarine Base

After the ocean liner experience, we recommend strolling around the now empty submarine base. It's an odd but amazing place. The buildings have been left just as they were when the last world war two submarines departed. These are massive cavernous concrete constructions with huge wet docks running into them. All are completely deserted and you can look where you like. If this was in the UK it would have been turned into a shopping centre or knocked down. You certainly wouldn't have a free rein to poke around on your own

You can also get up onto the roof of this colossal building (see photo) which is made of acres and acres of bomb proof concrete- some of it rather worse the wear as the Allies did have a good try at destroying it whilst bombing Brittany during the war. The views across the docks are spectacular and it's a great place for a picnic lunch

Gites in Brittany

Naval Shipyards

Continuing the maritime theme at St Nazaire you can visit one of the worlds leading shipyards which opens its doors so that you can discover how the giant cruise liners of the seas are built. Accompanied by a guide, you are taken around the dry docks in a bus. The six km-long itinerary takes you safely and comfortably through the shipyard and explains the whole process of shipbuilding, from the steel plate storage area to the actual outfitting basin. There are usually a couple of liners under construction

Airbus Factory

Also at St Nazaire you can see the huge hangers where the worlds biggest planes are made. You are taken by coach to the factory in Gron just outside Saint-Nazaire and then walk through two groups of impressively bright and calm workshops, called Polaris and Comete. Purpose built visitors balconies allow for spectacular views over the fuselage sections of the different Airbus planes including the gigantic sections of the A380. You can see the double line of aircraft on both sides of the vast hall. This is where these plane sections are delivered from with final assembly taking place in Toulouse or Hamburg. The cargo plane; Beluga, nicknamed the ' flying whale', lands at Saint-Nazaire on a daily basis to pick up these fuselage sections but as the A380 sections are too big, even for this outsized cargo plane they have to leave Saint-Nazaire on a special ship down the Loire

Tour of the Port

Saint-Nazaire Port is France's 4th most important, and the number one on the Atlantic coast. Visitors can discover a series of impressive docks along the Loire river concluding several kilometres upstream at the oil refinery of Donges. Linked to 400 ports all over the world these terminals are important platforms for the regional economy and for everyday life. The thousands of containers which pass through here transport everything from household appliances to all kinds of groceries

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Submarine Pens

Located at the famous second world war submarine base where the German fleet was hidden, you will discover everything there is to know about submarine design, build and operation. Go inside the French navy submarine 'Espadon' which was decommissioned and retired to Brittany in 1989 and get to see a real 'working' sub in the flesh. Check out how the sailors lived and worked in such cramped conditions. Take a tour around the shipyard and learn all about the role of submarines in both world wars

House of Bats

The House of the Bats is not the place for the faint hearted. This attraction at Kernascleden takes you into the spooky world of the bat; an unforgettable journey with these beasts of darkness. See what they see, hear what they hear and find out what it is to be a bat !

Poul-Fetan Farm

Take a trip to this real farm and see the way things were done a couple of hundred years ago. There's demonstration and tastings of traditional dishes

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Art in the Chapels

This is a bit off-the-wall and is a multi venue exhibition of modern art being shown in tiny disused chapels across Southern Brittany. You start off at Bieuzy Les Eaux where the first chapel is located. Here you are given a map with four circuits. You then drive from site to site and view the art. Each circuit of about ten chapels takes a couple of hours. What's interesting about it is that not only do you see a lot of very varied art but you also get to visit the ancient (and often completely isolated) chapels that you'd never find under normal circumstances. It's free of charge

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Workers Museum

Between Josselin and Ploermel in the small village of Lizio (just fifteen minutes from the gites) this museum is like stepping back in time and depicts the way things used to be in Brittany. There are detailed reconstructions of old shops, farm houses, surgeries, workshops and even an eighteenth century schoolroom

There's a unique collection of over 60,000 tools, furnishings and clothing all displayed in a realistic setting. Well over sixty crafts and skills, which no longer exist in the modern day are on show

The Vegitarium

This 'museum' is only about ten minutes away in La Gacilly. It's dedicated to plants and is extremely well done, very modern and has great displays. It's been put together by Yves Rocher- the perfume company. As you can see below they decorate the sides of the building with huge photos each summer. They also have a massive open air phtographic exhibition which changes each year- all free to visit

While you are there you can go up the road a mile or so to visit the perfume factory, see how it's made, tour the factory and visit their discount shop for some bargains

La Gacilly Brittany

Tuna and Sardines

The fisherman's Museum (at Ete) maybe a bit obscure but it's interesting. Ever wondered where your fish comes from ? Wonder no more, go take a look

The Costume Collection

At Serent this museum exhibits more than 350 examples of traditional Breton costumes and takes you back in time to a different era

The Lifeboat Museum

This museum in Port Louis traces the activities of the men and women who have risked everything to save seafarers through the ages. It goes back to the time when the first lifeboats had sails and brings you right up date with a fascinating journey through maritime history

The Fur Museum

This museum near Redon is about one thing only- FUR. I won't linger on it as it's not to some people's taste. Needless to say, there are lots of animal skins, beasties and stuff there. On the same theme if you fancy an old boars head to put in the hall and at home there's plenty for sale all around Brittany. Try one of the many local depot ventes or Brocante's

The Grand Blockhaus

The Blockhaus at Batz-Sur-Mer is an authentic German command post from the second world war. It is one of the biggest ever built and when you arrive you feel straight away what it must have been like being there during the war....very scary, very cramped and very unpleasant. You can visit five levels including the dormitories, the radio command post, weaponry and the machine rooms. Not only that, but you can discover the story of the German occupation of Brittany which was the last region to be liberated in Europe on 11th May 1945

The Musee du Souvenir

Only about ten minutes away from the gites with it collection of over 5000 items you can retrace the glorious past of the French army. The museum is based at Saint Cyr, the French equivalent of Sandhurst

The Port Museum

In Douarnenez this modern museum is about seafaring around the world. You can learn all about the fascinating history of sail and man's relationship with the sea. It goes right up to modern times. You can even go onto some of the original sailing ships still afloat in the port

Communications City

This centre near Lannion charts man's endeavours to communicate. From the first pioneering days to conversations in space

The Preserving Plant

This is a bit of an odd attraction. at Belle Iloise.  Basically it's a food preservation plant. Tins, cans, pickles etc. You can go to the visitors centre in Quiberon and see the sardine production lines- we never realised that the fish were gutted and cut to size all by hand. Buy a tin of pilchards !!

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Vannes Art Gallery

If you're an art fan you'll want to take a look in here. The gallery houses a rolling program of exhibits throughout the year normally with two or three featured artists

Museum of Modern Art

This large art gallery in Rennes holds a rolling series of exhibitions as well as displaying its own collection. It's free of charge

Auberge des Voyajouers

At Monteneuf this is a great place for a rainy day. It's a 'games' centre full of wooden games -no computers here. Inside are hundreds of things to do from mazes to board games and skittles with all sorts of traditional Brittany pastimes. It costs twenty Euros for a family and you can stay all day. There's a cafe and bar as well. Our children love it and it's great for adults as well

Museum des Passions

This is a bit of a novel place. It is as the name suggests, try it if you dare...... I have no photos of it I'm afraid !