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Finistère, Brittany: a great destination for families?

Finistère, Brittany

What are the ingredients that make up a good family travel destination? I’ve been thinking back to our summer trip to Finistère, Brittany (in France), and asking myself this question. If, like us, you want to explore and discover new territory, it’s comforting to know there are some things about a destination that will definitely appeal to kids. Finistère, Brittany had bucketloads of reasons to recommend itself to family holidaymakers (in fact, France in general is a great place to take the kids). Here are just a few.

Food and drink

moules frites

Finistère, Brittany lies on the west coast of France, with a rugged coastline that’s dotted with hundreds of ports, from the department’s largest city, Brest, to tiny places like Raguenez, near Pont-Aven (which just has a jetty for a landing). And into these ports sail some of the most delicious seafood on earth: lobsters, langoustines, oysters and award-winning sardines, to name but a few. The French know how to make the most of their home-grown cuisine: in Finistère, the larger ports all have rows of restaurants with sea or harbour views, like Le Tour de Monde in Brest, where I enjoyed some plump, fleshy moules with frites and white wine while watching the yachts sail in and out of the harbour.

That’s fine for adults, but kids aren’t known for their love of fish and crustaceans. Brittany, though, has plenty to tempt the palates of the fussiest eaters. Along with the fresh croissants and other pastries on sale in the rest of France, Brittany specialises in crèpes (thin pancakes, eaten savoury or sweet, with a dusting of icing sugar, nutella or fruit); galettes (sweet biscuits made with butter, a bit like shortbread) and delicately flavoured local apple juice.

And, of course, for the adults, there’s cider, good enough in quality to rival the wine that’s grown in other regions….

croissants

boulangerie

Pont-Aven

Child-friendly beaches

Beaches are usually good value for family travellers. Building sandcastles and splashing in the waves can keep kids occupied for an hour or two….but then what? As all parents will know, holidays change immensely when children come along. If you were the sort of holidaymaker who used to like lying on a beach towel all day, with a margherita in one hand and a good book in the other, you’ll know those days are long gone. No child under the age of ten is going to allow their parent to lounge for longer than five minutes, before the sand-kicking and clamouring for food begins. Finistère has the answer: a number of combo-beaches, like Raguenez and Plage de Gwendrez, with wide sandy stretches, but also plenty of rocks. When the youngsters have grown tired of fort-building, this means there’s ample scope for scrambling across the boulders, fishing for tiddlers and periwinkles in the rock pools, and trying to scrape barnacles or limpets off their hard, flat homes.

Hours of fun.

Finistère, Brittany

Finistère, Brittany

Finistère, Brittany

Breton culture

As Kate Moss and most other UK fashion leaders know, Breton style is pretty happening right now. It’s not just in metropolitan Mummy circles that they wear Breton-inspired clothes; in Finistère, every third man and woman can be seen sporting a version of the classic striped fisherman’s top. Even with the relatively low  strength of the £GB, for UK customers Brittany is a good place to pick up less expensive, authentic versions of the French designs on sale in Britain – for children as well as adults.

But it’s not all about fashion. There were at least four shops selling striped tops and bright yellow fisherman’s jackets in the village of Pont-Aven, but the place is best known for being an artist’s haven. It was the home of post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin, as well as other influential artists like Émile Bernard. A new museum has opened in Pont Aven to celebrate their works, and the town is picturesque personified: around every corner there’s a scene worthy of capture.

Pont-Aven

Pont-Aven

It’s easy to see how the Finistère coastline inspired the artists’ creativity. The terrain juts out into the Atlantic ocean; as well as reaching high temperatures on summer days, the department sees plenty of wild, stormy weather and some snow in winter. It’s a land of extremes: fine sand combined with jagged rocks, and a proud sense of its own identity as part of the Celtic group of nations (which, as well as Brittany, include Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and the Isle of Man). Of all the the departments in ‘Breizh’ (the Breton name for Brittany), Breton (the celtic language) is most widely spoken in Finistère, and some schools even teach through the medium of Breton. Youngsters can learn a lot from a trip to Finistère and Pont-Aven.

Brittany

Day trips

Finistère has a slew of other places that make for great family day trips. I’ve already written about our remarkable visit to the Glénan Archipelago, a set of islands ten nautical miles off the coast.  There’s also Oceanopolis, in Brest, an impressive collection of marine and freshwater life, with seven types of sharks, otters, rays, seals, giant turtles and a fish-petting area. I’ve posted about the aquarium here.

This only scratches the surface of what’s on offer to families in Finistère. Have you been on any day trips there? Would you recommend them? We’re keen to travel back to the department soon, as it had enough variety to keep the whole family happy.

Glénan

St Nicolas Island, part of the Glénan Archipelago

Oceanopolis

petting area at Oceanopolis, Brest

Here’s a little video I made, showing a couple of highlights from our stay in Finistère.

Pin for later:

Finistere

 

 

We were invited to stay with Siblu at their Domaine de Kerlann holiday park, near Pont Aven. We travelled in collaboration with Brittany Tourism.

If you’d like to read more on this blog about Brittany, check out some of our other posts:
A photo tour of Pont-Aven
Family Fun at Siblu Domaine de Kerlann, Brittany, France
Discovering aquatic life at Océanopolis, Brest, France
Are the Glénan Islands the most beautiful in Europe?
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52 Comments

  • Wandermust mummy
    November 10, 2016 at 7:21 am

    This post makes me hungry lol

    Looks like you had an amazing time

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Yes, the food’s pretty special there!

      Reply
  • Emily
    November 10, 2016 at 9:13 am

    It looks like you had a fabulous time, and I’m glad you found something for the kids to eat. #AllAboutFrance

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Yes, we had a fantastic break there.

      Reply
  • Lolo
    November 10, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Looks absolutely marvelous! The waters are so pristine! #FarawayFiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Yes – all that Atlantic blue!

      Reply
  • annette charlton
    November 10, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Lovely post. The Finistère, Brittany is such a beautiful area of France. We usually visit the Finistère beaches on our family holidays to France. We purchased a holiday home seven years ago (we live in Australia) and have been visiting regularly since. Your photos capture the area beautifully. #AllAboutFrance

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      You lucky things! Living in two such beautiful countries.

      Reply
  • Katy Clarke
    November 10, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Oh my beating gallic heart… j’adore!! The beaches, the rockpools, the food. Take me there now. Love it and thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    PS Loved how you snuck a Mossy reference in there… hee hee

    Reply
  • Susie Kelly
    November 10, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    A beautiful part of France. Our favourite area for gorgeous uncrowded beaches, and kouign aman. Finistere – the end of the earth, the westernmost tip of Europe. Magical.

    I found your blog via the #AllAboutFrance linky. 🙂

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      It certainly is full of Celtic magic.

      Reply
  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
    November 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    beautiful photos! #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Thanks.

      Reply
  • Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)
    November 10, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Your photos are just wonderful, Nell. Having fallen in love with Normandy over half term I can easily see us exploring a little further around the coast. What’s not to love? Great food, beautiful towns and villages and fantastic beaches with sand AND rocks to play on. French perfection. Thanks for linking up to #FarawayFiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks too. Normandy’s splendid too, and it’s interesting to spot the differences between the two places. You definitely should explore further!

      Reply
  • Erin Gustafson
    November 10, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    YES. A fantastic place for families it appears. Those moules look so good! And my kids would be happy with crèpes breakfast, lunch and dinner! Love the beaches. I have not been to Breton – but your last few posts are sending me swooning! Cheers from Copenhagen and thanks for linking with #FarawayFiles – Erin (also #AllAboutFrance!)

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      You should definitely go some time, Erin!

      Reply
  • Catherine's Cultural Wednesdays
    November 10, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Le Conquet right at the end of Finistere is our favourite but Brittany in general is the perfect place for a holiday with small children! #FarawayFiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      How funny – Le Conquet is twinned with the village I grew up in! I’ve never been, though. Really must go some time.

      Reply
  • Jonny (Daisy the bus)
    November 10, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    My happiest childhood memories are of my summer holidays in a campsite in Finistère (near Concarneau). I adored the changing tides, the salt on my skin, the rock pools on the beaches and – unlike the rest of my family (and most kids) – the wonderful seafood. I’m almost scared to go back, in case it has changed, in case my perfect childhood memories become tainted somehow. But your post has reassured me that it is still a wonderful, magical place for families to visit. Thanks for bringing back happy memories!! #AllAboutFrance and #FarawayFiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      I went to Brittany as a child, too. It has changed a little, but it’s still utterly charming – and very unspoilt.

      Reply
  • Courtney @ Adelante
    November 11, 2016 at 4:15 am

    You had me with that first photo of moules frites! I’m also a huge believer that you can never go wrong with France 😉 Sounds like an amazing trip!

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:46 pm

      It really was!

      Reply
  • Christine
    November 11, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    We nearly went to Finistère this year but decided on central Brittany instead as the drive (in our 14 year old car…..) was shorter. Looks like we’d have enjoyed it just as much as our eventual destination. I am kicking myself that I didn’t buy a blue and white striped top – they were everywhere weren’t they! #Farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 12, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Yes – I bought one, and a yellow fisherman’s jacket. I loved the fact that over here they’re high fashion, but in Brittany you could buy them in motorway service stations…

      Reply
  • Diane
    November 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Big fan of Brittany here. For families, couples or even solo trips, it’s a fantastic region. Thanks for sharing. Loved your pics! #allaboutfrance

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks! Yes it does have something for everyone.

      Reply
  • Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    November 13, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    You’ve really captured the essence of Brittany here, Nell, and you’ve brought back great memories of little ones on beaches, great food and striped Breton tops. Your photos are sensational too – so evocative of the area.
    #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Thank you Trish!

      Reply
  • Notmyyearoff
    November 14, 2016 at 9:49 am

    It sounds like a really lovely place and your photos are so good. I’ve never ever considered going here and we always fly off to far flung places for some good sun. I’m going to consider Brittany I think!

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      Well you’re not guaranteed sun there, by any means. But it is such a beautiful place!

      Reply
  • Phoebe | Lou Messugo
    November 14, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Such a lovely round-up of the beauty that is Finistère. And you had such great weather! Many’s the time I’ve been on a beach in Finistère in August in fleeces and wooly hats! When the sun shines it’s one of the loveliest place in France and you’ve captured it beautifully. Thanks for shairng with #AllABoutFrance

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      Yes we were lucky. But I bet it’s magical even if you need a woolly hat!

      Reply
  • Mandy
    November 14, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Oh the moules with frites! After visiting Brittany France this past summer, my husband fell head over heels in love with the moules with frites, and we just couldn’t find anything like it near our home! Luckily, he loves to cook and was able to recreate a similar meal in our kitchen. This doesn’t change the fact that we need to return to Brittany (or France really) asap to eat more delicious foods! Thanks for the reminder! 😉

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Moules frites is one of my favouites too.

      Reply
  • Louise Fairweather
    November 14, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Looks lovely, I would be happy eating cheese and wine for a week in France 😉 Oh and their cakes.

    Reply
  • JanetT
    November 14, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    You seem to have really put the miles in to explore the area – we were also in Finisterre this summer so I know it was a long drive for you to the aquarium. I look forward to reading about that. And the Glenan islands are also a trek but at least someone else could sail you there! Our family liked our day in Quimper, I’ll blog about that eventually. We didn’t manage to see Huelgoat forest which I would have liked to get to, with it’s supermassive trees and natural rock formations.

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      I’ll look forward to reading about Quimper – we didn’t manage to get there, more’s the pity.

      Reply
  • Fiona Cambouropoulos
    November 14, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Brittany would be such an easy option for us with the Plymouth Roscoff ferry so close, however I always worry the weather will be the same as Cornwall and we end up driving to the south. It looks so beautiful from your photos, perhaps we should explore the north a little more. #mondayescapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      You’re not guaranteed good weather – but even so, I’d definitely recommend it.

      Reply
  • Elizabeth (Wander Mum)
    November 14, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    I have never been to that part of France but clearly I need to! The colour of the sea is incredible. Sounds like a relaxing haven. #farawayfiles

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Yes I couldn’t believe quite how blue the sea was x

      Reply
  • Ruth
    November 15, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Oh my! Oh my! I have never thought about considering this place as a vacation spot (France in general) but after seeing these photos, I think I have changed my mind. Those beaches are gorgeous and the food looks so delectable. Last year, we went to the French side of the Basque Country and had a blast . i think I like France more than I think. #MondayEscapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 16, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Yes France does have something for everyone!

      Reply
  • Joanne Addison
    November 16, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    These beaches could have been in the Caribbean never mind France. What a beautiful part of the world – and one that I have not thought about visiting before. And the good thing about France is that it is just a short flight away from the UK – perfect! #mondayescapes

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 21, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Yes, it’s so close to us. We took the ferry so we could even drive there!

      Reply
  • Mini Travellers
    November 20, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    We are hoping to do a similar trip at the end of August next year, you have really inspired me! Thanks

    Reply
    • Nell
      November 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      You’ll love it there Karen! x

      Reply
  • Wherejogoes
    February 7, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    What a lovely trip, I feel hungry just looking at those pictures! We used to go there as children and I have very fond memories of playing on the beaches of Brittany, eating crepes and camping.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Nell
      February 15, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Yes – it conjures up lovely childhood memories for me, too!

      Reply
  • Tania @ Larger Family Life
    March 6, 2017 at 11:19 am

    Yep, no lying on the beach for hours for a few more years for us yet! Never mind, who wants to be doing that when there’s so much to explore, eh?!

    Reply
    • Nell
      March 22, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      That’s very true!

      Reply

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