©Brock&Betty ©Alexandre Lamoureux
Brought to you by Tourisme Bretagne (Brittany Tourism).
A hidden gem, for sure.
When it comes to choosing a destination, France has always been a popular option for Irish tourists. However, there's one easily-overlooked corner of the French coastline that we've got our sights set on this year. Whether you're planning a trip away with friends, or you're looking for a seaside escape, there is plenty to explore in this truly underrated area.
Baie de Morlaix-Côte des Sables (or Morlaix Bay – Sandy Coast, for those of you scared to attempt that pronunciation) is a coastal destination along the Northern coast of France, just west of Brittany. With coastal scenery, breathtaking hikes, a thriving art scene and a unique food and drinks culture, this seaside haven has plenty to offer all year round.
From travel arrangements to things to see and do, here's what you need to know:
The GR34 coastal path in Morlaix Bay ©Alexandre Lamoureux
Beach-goers can unwind on the sandy beaches in Locquirec, Plouescat, or Carantec but the bay also boasts plenty of breathtaking hiking trails for those that want to get moving. Fill your days with strolls along the coastal trails, challenge yourself with the Arrée Mountains or explore Brittany's most famous and popular trail, the GR34 coastal trail. This extraordinary route takes in the whole of the Breton coastline. As you walk along the stretch in Morlaix bay, you’ll come across sprinkling of small islands, collection of beaches and sandy bays, you can get superb shots of the small island of Louët and the off-shore fortress known as the Château du Taureau, which seem so close you could almost touch them.
Sandyachting in Kernic bay © Alexandre Lamoureux
As well as these stunning hiking trails, the region is home to several microbreweries. So it's only right that someone came up with the idea of combining the two, with the Beer & Boots Hikes. On this trip, you'll hike along the GR 34, before rewarding yourself with a fresh locally-brewed craft beer at La Brasserie Graphique. After completing this 4 hour hike, you'll have earned it.
Morlaix Bay-Côte des Sables is also the ideal destination for thrill-seekers among us. You can get your adrenaline fix by exploring the bay by kayak, or try a new watersport. This unique, maritime landscape boasts the sweeping Keremma dunes, which, at high tide is the ideal spot for a walk. Afterwards, take to the turquoise sea, and try your hand at a variety of watersports under the guidance of the seasonal instructors at Plouescat. From kayaking to windsurfing to paddle boarding, there is plenty to chose from. If you're feeling particularly adventurous and want to try something totally different, we recommend sand-yachting in Kernic.
Street art in Morlaix ©OT Baie de Morlaix
A pinch of culture
After mornings and afternoons spent adventuring, you may want to get your culture fix, and Morlaix Bay - Sandy Coast has plenty to offer in that regard. The bay is known for its historical architecture and is home to some interesting heritage sights, from offshore fortresses to a burial chamber older than the pyramids.
As well as this rich history, the town of Morlaix has a thriving art scene. In fact, it's home to some award-winning street art, which combines the area's layered history and heritage with unique urban art techniques. Every July, graffiti artists flock to the bay for its annual street art festival. But if you're visiting outside of the festival's yearly run, you can still discover all of the bay's hidden masterpieces by joining a Morlaix Art Tour.
The town of Roscoff should also be on the agenda for those interested in history and culture. Flamboyant, gothic houses are dotted along this town, making it particularly visually striking. What's more, it's home to a rich history. The old, granite harbour and the clifftop Chapel of Sainte-Barbe date back to the 17th century, while the unmissable Maison Forte dates back to the 16th century.
Le Bilig de La Plage ©Emmanuel Berthier
Once the sun goes down on Morlaix Bay-Sandy Coast, you'll still find plenty of ways to unwind and relax. With a rich drinks heritage and a thriving local culture, evenings in the bay are best spent at authentic, one-of-a-kind bars and restaurants. The evening is also a perfect time to indulge in some traditional food and drink – we recommend Le Bilig de la Plage and Primel-Café for fish and seafood dishes. If you're staying at Domaine Du Treuscoat, your group can even enjoy evening drinks from your private terrace perched above the trees.
Les Vagabonds de la Baie offer boat trips around the bay to get closer to the islets, marine species and oyster beds, and they are available to hire for group bookings in the evenings as well. Think drink, friends, sunset as you sail to a secret cove.
How to get there
Fly with either Ryanair or Aer Lingus from Dublin to Nantes Airport, with the option of travelling by rail or car to Morlaix Bay.
Brittany Ferries runs a ferry from Cork to Roscoff twice a week and the trip takes approximately 13 hours. Passengers can travel with their car, van, motorhome, bike or by foot, and pets are even allowed on board.
Where to stay
Whether you're looking to keep your digs as affordable as possible or you're hoping to go all out with a 5* hotel stay, Morlaix Bay-Sandy Coast has accommodation options to suit every budget. But might we recommend something a little different?
Located within an easy-to-access distance of Morlaix Bay, Domaine du Treuscoat is a cosy, eco-friendly leisure park that gives guests the opportunity to set up camp among Brittany's stunning nature and wildlife - including 63 hectares of forest, meadows and grounds and 11 km of footpaths for you to explore.
But what makes Domaine du Treuscoat extra special is their accommodation, which comes in the form of treehouse cabins suspended a couple of meters above the ground, helping guests to truly appreciate the park's extensive scenery and wildlife. Visitors can choose from some adorable log cabins up among the trees or, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, opt for one of their Island Nests, a cosy bubble suspended high above the ground, providing a unique 360-degree view of your stunning natural surroundings.
Dream big, live slow in Brittany. Start planning your visit to Brittany today here.