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Things to do in Ille y Vilaine

494 contributors
  • Monuments
    52 places
  • Outdoors
    29 places
  • Walks
    23 places
  • Beaches
    11 places
  • Museums
    7 places

The top 215 attractions in Ille y Vilaine

Beaches in Saint-Malo
Saint Malo Beach
The beach is located on the wall of this corsair city. During low tide you can walk to the island of Petit-Bé and Grand-Bé (where the French writer Chateaubriand is buried). There's a huge sea water swimming pool that forms at low tide, with a diving board! It's a good idea not to have to walk yards and yards to get into the water because of fast rising tides. Like at Mont Saint Michel, be careful if you decide to visit the islands because you can get stranded. There are signs that warn what to do in case you are surprised by the rising tide and strong currents. In the month of August, this beach is celebrated as part of the "Route du Rock", 3 consecutive days of concerts, with 5,000 spectators per night.
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Historical Monuments in Saint-Malo
The Walls of Saint-Malo
After eating and tiring from walking the streets of St Malo with its innumerable shops and restaurants and visiting the most important parts of the city, we needed some fresh air and a little more of a relaxed activity. We decided to take a walk around the top of the walls. Seven feet thick and two miles long, the walls are in excellent condition. There was a beautiful sea breeze on this cloudy day and from this level, we were able to see another perspective of the buildings, beaches and forts in the city. In short, a highly recommended walk.
Viewpoints in Cancale
The Tip of the Grouin
Near the bay of Mont Saint Michel, you'll find this rock outcrop, the tip of the Grouin. It's the perfect observatory to see on the Breton coast, especially its plant and animal life. To get there you'll have to walk, and on the way you'll see lots of trees, flowers, rocks and the sound of birds around us. It is a destination for the more adventurous. Refrain sedentary. From the most outgoing out everything you can see the sea and the coast at its fullest. A gift for our eyes, that daily gains greater number of admirers for its stunning cliffs and lush vegetation. From the top you can see the profile of Mont St.-Michel Abbey. Their roofs slate weevils as needles skyward make its sunsets among the most bucolic of France.
Forests in Paimpont
Broceliande Forest
BROCÉLIANDE is the mythical name of the actual Paimpont forest, located southwest of Rennes. It is the remains of a vast forest which in the Middle Ages covered the centre of the peninsula, and the source of many Celtic legends. Supposedly, the Knights of the Round Table used it as their destination and their search when King Arthur ordered them to find the Holy Grail, hidden in the forests of Brittany. The wizard Merlin, friend and adviser of the young Arthur, was a privileged guest of Brocéliande's. It is a mandatory place to visit, and though you have to walk a bit, it is definitely worth it.
Gardens in Rennes
Parc du Thabor
It is a large park on a hill, near the city center. For lovers of gardens, designed by Denis Bühler. Different styles (including the French, English), with an orange enclosure, a collection of over 3,000 plants
Villages in Cancale
Cancale is a coastal village close to Saint Malo. They call it oyster capital of Brittany. The town itself has many attractions, this "interesting" town is small and does not cover much coastline. It has a small sandy bay enclosed by dykes that keep the waves down. It is amazing to see the bay at high and low tide. In one case seems to be any port, but then boats are just stuck in the sand. The boats have no keel and can easily lopsidedly turn over. The hull of the boat is completely flat, ready to spend hours seated on the sand. The visit is full gastronomic pleasure; locals and tourists come here to eat their fill of fresh oysters. At the entrance of the street, just to the left there is a small hill that leads to the square. Here the oysters come every day via tractors transporting them through the muddy route, 200 meters behind from the hundreds of cages in the bay. There are a dozen stalls, and the prices are quite similar. Then you can choose the size of the oyster, which affects the price. You are given a plastic tray with a lemon. Now we just need to open your mouth and drop in this gelatinous delight. Half a dozen, medium size cost about 8 € if I remember correctly. If you wish for more comfort when enjoying the seafood you can go to any restaurant in town, all specialized in seafood.
Historical Monuments in Saint-Malo
Fort National
"With ten guns on each side, booming, full sail ... Twenty dams have done in spite of English and have surrendered their banners hundred nations at my feet". This famous poem might have been the corsair city emblem par excellence: Saint Malo. Although the letter of marque had been granted by the French State with many ships to attack enemy ships with justification, the corsairs of Saint Malo were given, in neutral situations, were given the license to loot and they become the biggest predators of the Canal de la Mancha. Fort National was witness to many of these episodes though it was built with the intention of defending the city from invasion from the mainland. The fort is on a peninsula which, at high tide, is surrounded by water, at these times you cannot approach it and the most you can do to is use the zoom of your camera.
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Castles in Paimpont
Castle of Comper
On one of our walks, we found this castle a few miles from the village of Concoret. By all accounts this castle belonged to the king of Brittany Solomon Britain in the ninth century. However it was the barons of Gaël-Montfort who really gave importance to this small fortress considered one of the best strategic positions, having witnessed many battles. Today it is the headquarters of the imaginary legend of King Arthur, Merlin and Lancelot with some of the scenes of the famous book. Several rooms have figures and tables from this unreality but pleasantly surprised visitors. Everything is in English or French, stories, books or sketches.
Castles in Fougères
Fougères Castle
This past July, my wife and I walked through Brittany, France for a month, and of all the wonders we discovered on that trip, nothing impressed me more than walking up to the battlements of the magnificent castle of Fougeres. It's like time travelling, and the views from its walls are the most incredible thing I've seen. A must if you travel to Brittany. Do not miss it.
City Halls in Rennes
Rennes City Hall
In an elegant square in the late 18th century there are some beautiful public buildings. In the Place de la Mairie you can find the city council. This building was constructed in the most elegant style, that of Louis XV. It is accompanied by an 18th century watchtower nearby. Inside lies an impressive staircase, waterfall and tapestries from the Royal Factory Fabric of France and the School of Bruges. All of them are hung on marmol boxes that go throughout the entire hallway and are sustained by huge stone pillars.
Cathedrals in Rennes
Rennes Cathedral
Two large towers welcome you above the door of the cathedral. The temple bell can be heard kilometers outside of the city. There is a mass of granite carved with utmost care, making it the most beautiful in the region. Upon entering, one finds themselves in an orthodox temple. Austerity and understated elegance of the outside doesn´t go along with the inside. Tiled floor to ceiling, everything is surrounded by a luxurious atmosphere. Surprising for locals and outsiders, this temple´s architecture of all types breaks the asthetic of each moment.
Cities in Dinard
Dinard is located only a few kilometers from St Malo, it a spa town which has been frequented for decades by UK citizens. Located on The Emerald Coast , the place contained 407 protected villas of the Belle Epoque and where the old bathhouses remain (l'Ecluse beach) and the casino. Seeing this place is like walking into a movie of that time.
Historical Monuments in Rennes
Rennes old town
Rennes is the capital of Ille-et-Vilaine, which is one of the main cities of Brittany. I recommend focusing on the northern part, with the Vilaine river running throgh it. I loved their wooden houses, with colourful facades, and the medieval touches still visible despite the apparent modernity of the city. There are some beautiful churches and basilicas. Highly recommended.
Museums in Rennes
Les Champs Libres
Culture, science and society are the essence of the Champs Libres cultural project, a unique adventure in Rennes' cultural landscape. Rennes is a dynamic and attractive city. This project building houses the Museum of Brittany of space and planetary sciences, with a library and several temporary exhibits. It is the city's and its metropolis's main cultural and tourist centre. Designed by the internationally renowned architect Christian de Portzamparc, the building is located in the Plaza de las Culturas, near the train station. The Champs Libres cultural project includes, among other things, innovative activities that promote art, or the scientific, cultural and intellectual development of its participants. You can mingle among Britain's academics, researchers and artists. Everything in Les Champs Libres is cared for. Hurry and take advantage of this experience. Here, time is money.
Palaces in Rennes
Parlement of Brittany
A glass and marble palace is hollow in the commercial and cultural heart of Rennes. It is quite a spectacle worth seeing. The reforms that took place after the 1994 fire have left the building looking like it did back then. A feast for the eyes. The stucco walls and ceilings invite you see a scene of the most remarkable Versailles. Its chandeliers and red velvet carpets, thick and made with the best fabric, lead visitors to the most elegant room of the palace: the Chamber. It is a stunning neoclassical piece of work full of white burgundy and ivory.
Nature Reserves in Saint-Coulomb
Presqu'île de la Guimorais
Presqu'ile de La Guimorais (the "almost island" of Guimorais) in Bretagne, near St. Malo, and is an arm of land that closes around a large beach. It is famous because it is a very good place for bird watching, and it has a great walking area, as well as sport. It is also converted into a nude beach during the summer months. It has been protected as a bird sanctuary, and is a completely wild land. No construction has occured there other than the paths which have formed naturally over time. The vegetation of the area is highly halophilic, quality absolutely necessary to grow beside the sea. Another feature is that the plants are generally low due to strong wind most of the year. Formerly it was an island, but the wind and tide, the dunes were modified to close the passage and formed the arm (now full of greenery and trees) that connects the island to the land. To get there the only option is by bike or car from St. Malo and Cancale, the nearest town. Best to enjoy the place is to get good boots, bring some food and spend a long morning in place, breathing the sea breeze and soaking up the scenery. In winter it is very, very likely to be cloudy, rain and windy. In summer it is very likely get windy, but not so much it rains and is cloudy.
Squares in Rennes
Place des Lices
The Lices square owes its name to the tournament that once took place here. The mythical, medieval hotels of La Noue and Feuillée, built over three centuries ago, are part of the decor of this plaza. Its tower and stairs with high timbered ceilings and gerbière lamps are well worth a visit. Hall Molanta (1670), located on this street at number 34, is a very special place that houses a luxurious and monumental oak staircase.
Unusual Places in Paimpont
Val Sans Retour
If you go to Brittany and want to go with the legend of King Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot and Morgana fairy Viviane and don't miss the forest Broceliande and the mystic Valley of No Return. Legend has it that in these places the evil Morgan le Fay, sister of King Arthur, betrayed by her lover Guyomard, decided to put him and other disloyal gentlemen in jail in this place. Lancelot of the lake in love with Queen Guinevere and a prisoner in this jail, resisting the allure of fairies led by his love for the queen, had to fight fire dragons and giant guards the Valley until managed to break the walls of air and give freedom and all prisoners who were there. The walk is quite convenient and simple. A wide path leads from the parking lot to the forest with a Viewing spot of the Fairies on a small pond known as the Mirror of fairies and a set of five or six trees in whose center is The Golden Tree. Our visit was the last thing we did at Forest Broceliande and evening was falling so the colorful fields and trees were spectacular. There was fog taking over the place, making it even more magical.