Between land and ocean
In South Brittany, the Morbihan is a territory of legend between land and sea. Its past is visible in Carnac with a collection of 3 000 megaliths predating the famous Stonehenge; its myths inspired in the forest of Brocéliande by King Arthur’s legend and its present is symbolised by the high-tech sailing valley.
Morbihan is the only French Département having a non-french name (meaning little sea in Breton language for the gulf) and its cultural identity is strong. During your trip, you may encounter the BZH as symbol of this identity. It is a shortcut for Breizh (Brittany in Breton). You will also notice the numerous black and white flags of Brittany, an heritage of the times where France and Brittany where two separate countries.
The Morbihan gulf: an invitation from the ocean
The Morbihan gulf gives its name to the territory. Like an interior sea, this beautiful bay is closed from the ocean by the Peninsula of Rhuys. The legend counted 365 islands in the gulf, but if you do your own calculation, you will find around 40 islands, most of them being private. The Ile aux Moines and the Ile d’Arz can be visited. To discover the most beautiful bay in France from land, either hike around the gulf (part of the famous GR34), or cycle on the Route 5 of the coastal cycle path. Alternatively, take a boat to discover the gulf and experience from the inside the heart of the territory.
If the weather is bad (that happens sometimes in Brittany J), find a small restaurant and try the pancakes from Brittany, called galette when they are savoury and crêpes for the sweet ones. If you like cold meats, then try the local Andouille de Guémené, a kind of sausage from pork stomach.
The islands: experiential travel in Belle-Ile, Houat or Hoedic
Searching for more adventure? Then head to the islands south of the gulf. Take a boat from Quiberon, Vannes, Locmariaquer or Port Navalo (some boats from Le Croisic and la Turballe during high-season). The biggest island is Belle-ile (beautiful island in French), offering a diversity of activities in wild sceneries: from the fort of le Palais to fine sandy dunes, from the house of Sarah Bernhard at the Pointe des Poulains to the little harbour of Sauzon. Take a few days to explore the island, hike or ride along the coast line, then rest with a Breizh Cola on the beach! A hit of the 80s by french singer Laurent Voulzy is about the island of Belle-ile in Brittany and Marie-Galante in Guadalupe.
For a true escape, take a boat to the islands of Houat or Hoedic. These small islands will give you a face to face with the ocean. Few inhabitants, rough conditions and unspoilt flora: an experience for nature and ocean lovers. As no motor vehicles are allowed, the only way to discover the island is to hike or to rent a bike. If you are there the 15 August (despite it is peak season for French tourists), it is the occasion for a naval gathering to christen the new boats.
The main entry gate to the Morbihan gulf is Vannes. Access by direct trains to Vannes from major cities in France. Access to Vannes by train with a connection in Rennes or Nantes.
Local buses can take you to different places: Sarzeau, Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys, Arzon, Port Navalo, Quiberon, etc.
Pictures Wild France, Morbihan tourism board & BRTC/Emmanuel Berthier/ Michel Renac/ Donatienne Guillaudeau/©