Picturesque villages, medieval fortresses, beautiful gardens, bucolic landscapes, unusual places and a whole range of walks on foot, by bike or by boat: this is what awaits the curious traveler who momentarily turns his back on the sea to explore the Morbihan hinterland. With, as a bonus, the advantage of tranquility, the vast majority of tourists being magnetized by the coast and the islands.
There are no waves here, but the water is still present in this region crossed by the Nantes to Brest canal, a long ribbon of water completed in 1842, which winds through the heart of green valleys. Follow his path from Redon to Pontivyis to take it easy, and go from discovery to discovery, in slow mode.
Good to know: the Routard has just published a new guide entirely devoted to the Canals of Brittany!
Nature walks from Redon
Located in the extreme south of the department of Ille-et-Vilaine, Redon is the starting point for beautiful walks in neighboring Morbihan.
For example, you can rent a bicycle at the port, then join the towpath bordering the Nantes to Brest canal, which borrows here the valley of the Oust. Then rent a canoe at the leisure center and row up to magpie island, classified as a Great Natural Site. A refreshing walk, which follows the meanders of the Oust, between high granite cliffs (popular with climbers) and trees (beeches, maritime pines…). The opportunity also to observe many birds (swans, crows, jays, herons, green woodpeckers…).
With family or friends, it can also be fun to rent an electric boat or to take a guided cruise aboard a cabane, these wooden boats that once sailed on the Loire.
Bike addicts, on the other hand, have the opportunity to pedal from Redon to Pontivy on the Velodyssey, which follows the canal from Nantes to Brest, the big advantage of towpaths being that they are flat.
Den of adventurers. Bike rental at the port of Redon: € 10 / half day.
Canoe Lilopi - Apach'Bihan. Saint-Vincent-sur-Oust leisure center. Canoe rental for 2 to 18 places (eg 3 places: € 29 / half day).
Toue de la Vilaine. Commented cruise aboard a cabane toue (about 2 hours). From 6 people (on reservation).
Family outing to Tropical Parc
For a change of scenery, go to the Tropical Parc, at Saint-Jacut-les-Pins. Passionate about tropical plants and lover of Asia, Erven Gicquel, the site manager, invites visitors on a journey.
In a few steps, we go from Thailand to Bali, from Africa to Australia and Mexico, and we even go back to prehistoric times in the Jurassic Garden and its animated dinosaurs. Success guaranteed for the little ones, who also appreciate the musical house and its traditional instruments from Asia (beware of the ears!), The Brazilian aviary and the animal park where kangaroos, goats, peacocks and alpacas rub shoulders.
Among the curiosities of this park, which is teeming with objects of all kinds, is a collection of fossil woods dating back 200 million years, at the Minerals Museum.
New this year: the Chinese Garden of Three Dreams, with its pagodas and pavilions, its pond, its Buddhas, and more than 7 plants (tea trees, bonsai, azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, etc.).
Tropical Park. Laugarel, Saint-Jacut-les-Pins. € 16,50 / adult, € 11,50 / child (4 to 10 years old).
La Gacilly, the stronghold of Yves Rocher
North of Redon, in the heart of the green Aff valley, stroll through the charming flowery alleys of Gacilly, "Cité des Métiers d'Art" which has around thirty artisan workshops (painters, sculptors, ceramists, jewelry designers, etc.).
It is here that, in 1959, Yves Rocher (1930-2009) created his company, radically changing the face and size of his native village. His family home cannot be visited, but we can find a reconstruction of the attic in which he made his first cream. Yves Rocher House, whose scenography also addresses the themes of plant genius and plant cosmetics.
North of the village, the Yves Rocher Botanical Garden shelters more than 1 plants and a pleasant bamboo grove. In summer, activities are organized there, in particular well-being activities (yoga, tai chi, sophrology, Pilates, etc.).
Yves Rocher was also at the initiative of La Gacilly Photo Festival, the 16th edition of which is devoted to the countries of the East (“East of the new”, until September 30). As every year, the visitor is invited to a stroll in the streets of the city, where a thousand images are displayed.
As for walks, lovers of megaliths can go for a jump to the Tablettes dolmen, built around 3000 BC, located a few minutes walk from the La Grée des Landes eco-hotel spa, also created by Yves Rocher. And for those who fancy a walk on the water, electric boats without a license can be rented at the marina.
River break. Rental of electric boats without a license, departing from La Gacilly. From € 35 / h (5 people). Possibility of going as far as Île aux Pies (6 h round trip).
Rochefort-en-Terre, city of character in Morbihan
Dominating the Gueuzon valley, Rochefort-en-Terre collects titles: not content with being one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”, the “Small Town of Character” was voted “Favorite Village of the French” in 2016!
It must be said that the village, perched on its rocky outcrop, does not lack picturesque (nor tourists!). While strolling in its small cobbled streets and flowers, one admires half-timbered houses, mansions with ornate granite facades, elegant squares, like that of the Well, in the center, and artisan shops.
Do not miss to visit the church Notre-Dame-de-la-Tronchay, located below the Grande-Rue. Built in the 12C, it was transformed into a collegiate church in 1498, and remodeled in the 16C. In front of it rises a magnificent Calvary of the 16th C.
We will then go up to the castle park, from where we have a panoramic view of the village. Of the 12C fortress, only ruins remain, the ramparts and the chatelet. The manor house, fitted out in the 20th century by the American painter Alfred Klots in the former 17th century stables, cannot be visited.
On the other hand, one should not miss going to see the astonishing Naïa Museum, the Museum of Fantastic Imaginary Arts, where you can dive into the dreamlike world of 77 international artists, mixing science fiction, singular art, symbolism, steampunk and cyberpunk aesthetics. A place apart, which takes you to another dimension ...
A journey through time in Malestroit
Another charming “little town of character”, where it is good to stroll along the alleys where proud facades line up, witnesses of its past wealth.
Born in the 11C in a meander of the Oust, Malestroit (pronounce "Malétroit") was indeed a flourishing commercial city. If only few traces of its fortifications remain, we still admire a number of sculpted granite residences dating from the 16C and half-timbered houses with corbelled floors even older, sporting astonishing medieval sculptures (a sow spinning his distaff or a hare playing the biniou!).
On the main square (Place du Bouffay), where the terraces invite you to relax, rises Saint-Gilles church, built on a sacred source in the 12C and rebuilt in the 16C, following a fire. It has a double nave and two bell towers, and still retains a few 15C stained glass windows. In 2011, thanks to a restoration, exceptional paintings were discovered under the vault, representing very rare motifs (a fighting elephant, a centaur and a unicorn feline).
Having walked the cobbled streets of this pretty city, we will then go for a stroll along the canal, on foot or by bike, in the shade of the large trees overlooking the towpath. An ideal place to stroll!
The fabulous world of the scrap metal poet, in Lizio
Very close to the pretty village of Lizio, we find his child's soul at Museum of the junkyard poet. On the grass, two plump geese waddle in front of one of the dreamlike machines made by Robert Coudray, alias the scrap metal poet, "a graduate of the high school buissonnière poet handyman. Sponsored by the landfill fairy. Trained filmmaker, stonemason by tradition, collector by fascination, sculptor by passion, awakener by mission. "
For about thirty years the artist, virtuoso of recycling and recycling, has been building his fantasy world, populated by automatons, tightrope walkers, starfishers, "machines to make you dream", often. flying, animated sculptures, "wind totems" and multicolored houses with unusual shapes, which are reminiscent of the world of Tim Burton.
Allow at least 2 hours to explore the place, especially if you read the tasty texts that accompany the works of Robert, who does not lose sight of his objectives: to make people dream, to give meaning, without forgetting the search for happiness.
A very nice visit, which can be concluded by having a drink in the café or by nibbling at the associative restaurant. It will be understood, the children here are in heaven.
The universe of the poet Ferrailleur. Open daily in summer (10:30 a.m. - 19 p.m.), € 7 / adult, reduced rate: € 6.
Find all the tips, addresses and useful information in the South Brittany Routard in bookstores
To prepare for your stay, consult our Brittany online guide
Read also our article on the canals of Brittany
Morbihan Departmental Tourism Committee
Brittany Regional Tourism Committee
How to get there, get around?
- By train: around 2 hours 30 minutes to reach Redon from Paris, 4 hours from Lille, 4 hours 30 minutes from Lyon by TGV.
- By car: from Paris, allow around 4 hours 20 minutes to drive to Redon, 1 hour 15 minutes from Nantes and 4 hours 30 minutes from Bordeaux
On site, to get around, the most practical is to rent a car.
There is also a network of coaches (BreizhGo) serving the towns of Redon, Rochefort-en-Terre, Malestroit, Josselin, Pontivy.
Some ideas for visits:
Ceramics in Saint-Jean-la-Poterie
As its name suggests, the small village of Saint-Jean-la-Poterie, near Redon, specialized in pottery a long time ago. Pots were already being made there 1000 years ago. Today, temporary exhibitions present the works of contemporary ceramists who have established themselves there, perpetuating this thousand-year-old tradition whose history is traced at the Patiau (Center for Art and Ceramic History).
In the town of Ploërmel, Hélène and Daniel Deniaud-Powell embarked on a great adventure in 2014: to create a taste garden, called Hours outside. Adepts of permaculture, they wanted to reconnect with nature. It is now done and, in their garden (of Eden), they cultivate all kinds of edible plants (prized by the chefs of gastronomic restaurants in the region). During workshops (some Sundays in the summer, by reservation), visitors are invited to a “wild picking”. The opportunity to introduce your taste buds to unknown flavors, those of plants as astonishing as chickweed, oxalis, bristling cardamine or the navel of Venus.
Notre-Dame de Timadeuc Abbey
Between Josselin and Pontivy, you can stop at the Cistercian Abbey of Timadeuc, founded in 1841 and where today around twenty monks live, whose lives are presented in a small film. They handcraft good fruit jellies, on sale at the shop. The abbey also welcomes guests who wish to stay there to meditate, meditate or take a retreat.
Where to sleep, where to eat?
- La Grée des Landes: Cournon, 56200 La Gacilly. On the heights of La Gacilly, the Yves Rocher eco-spa hotel (labeled Green Globe and European Ecolabel) offers a real break of well-being in the heart of nature. The bedrooms, all on one level, open onto the moor. Stay from 211 € for 2 people (1 night, organic and local breakfast, access to wellness and fitness areas and to the swimming pool). Numerous wellness activities (yoga, Yogi Walkie, sophrology, Pilates…) and beauty treatments at the spa. At the gourmet restaurant Les Jardins sauvage, you can taste refined, organic and locavore cuisine, concocted by chef Fabien Manzoni. Graminée menu (lunch) at 30 €. La Grée des Landes menu: € 42.
- Le 14 St-Michel: 14 rue Saint-Michel in Josselin. Full of charm, this guest house is ideally located in the center of the medieval town of Josselin. Nice decor, friendly welcome, imperial calm and delicious breakfast. Also table d'hôtes on reservation (32 €). Night for 2 people: from 72 € (breakfast included). A great address.
- Les Enfants Gat'thé: 24, rue La Fayette in La Gacilly. In the heart of the village, in a large stone house built between the 16th and 19th centuries, local and seasonal products are in the spotlight in this restaurant which claims its eco-responsible approach. Book if you want a place on the terrace. Recreation menu (noon, starter-main-dessert): € 15,80, vegetarian menu: € 22, discovery menu from € 26. Excellent value for money.
- The Vegetarium: Le Bout du Pont in La Gacilly. Maison Yves Rocher's restaurant serves fresh cuisine, including vegetarian and vegan dishes. Main course: 15 €, starter-main course-dessert: 26 €.
- La Marine: 8, rue du Canal in Josselin. Located on the banks of the Oust, this creperie offers a breathtaking view of the castle from the terrace. Very good pancakes, prepared with fresh and local products. Complete at € 6,50. Specialties between € 7,90 and € 12,40.
- L'Akène: 10, rue du Jeu de Paume in Redon. This creperie plays on tradition, and it's successful! Complete at € 6,50. Buckwheat specialties between € 6,80 and € 9,30. We recommend.
- Ciné Café: 12, quai Jean Bart in Redon. Overlooking the port of Redon, the Ciné Café, the Ciné Manivel restaurant, serves vegetarian and organic pies and sandwiches, local ice creams and other desserts, with emphasis on local producers. And besides, it's very good. Menu from € 9,50.