A colorful village in Brittany, France, and the choices are easy
Do I go and stay for a while, or just “go”?
Let’s face it: pretty villages in France really aren’t difficult to come by. But when choosing one to stop in, knowing that you’ve made a good choice isn’t always immediately apparent.
You drive into town as a fly by visitor with all kinds of questions that need to be answered; and one way or another, they will be. I’m not even talking about questions such as “Should I go to this museum?” or “Should I go to that cafe?” – I’m talking about the kind of questions that first must be answered when entering a new sphere, whether it be a small village like La Roche Bernard, or a big city, like Paris; things like, “Where should I park?” and “Do I go left or right?” Or perhaps as in this case the most important question of all must be answered: “Where is the closest restroom?”
Sometimes places that I have high hopes for, turn into mere restroom breaks. While sometimes places that were possibly only going to be restroom breaks, turn into the way your spend your day.
In La Roche-Bernard the answer to that question of where to park was obvious: In the near-empty lot next to the harbor; the small harbor with a tableau, gaga full of sailboats, their masts scraping towards the sky, their hulls so impossibly colorful that they seemed to be radiating with no help from the sun. The harbor with a parking lot for cars too, with its own well marked restroom.
Two equally appealing paths diverged from the parking lot, and the answer to my second question of which way to walk was apparent: I must take both of them. The sight of a lone fisherman down the way made my decision of which path to take first easy. As I walked the sound of slapping halyards against sailboat masts in the breeze was familiar and oddly comforting, making me momentarily homesick for a memory of something I couldn’t put my finger on.
There were certain things about visiting the Brittany region that I kind of expected. I knew about the whole seafaring, salty, red, white and blue striped shirts thing. I expected crepes, apple cide, and giant salty oysters. But I would never have guessed the plants that would be blooming in September. Throughout this part of France things were flowering that on the east coast of the United States I associate with Spring. Flowers burst out of every nook and cranny.
Everything about this town was crazy, saturated red, blue, pink, orange or purple; as if the village itself had an agenda of color.
La Roche-Bernard was settled by the Normans in the late 1st century. La Roche, or “the rock” towering above the Vilaine River, was a strategic location for the settlement during this tumultuous time. The town prospered as a port for much of its history. It was occupied by Germany during World War II, and attacked by Allied forces following the Invasion of Normandy.
The village’s long maritime history is recounted at Musée de la Vilaine Maritime where tours are available in English. In the 16th century La Roche-Bernard was one of only four protestant towns in Brittany. In most recent history, the town is known for L’Auberge Bretonne, its highly regarded Michelin-starred restaurant and inn. I didn’t go there; thankfully, it wasn’t even an option because it was after lunch time and closed. I did stop and eat at a traditional creperie in the town’s old quarter, Creperie Gatin.
I suspect that as a water recreation area, the activity level is kicked up a notch in the summer.
Hikers visiting this part of France may be interested to know that the GR39 path which connects Brière National Park with Mont St. Michel passes right through La Roche-Bernard. Locally there is the Sentier des Ponts (bridge trail), a 3.5 mile trail that passes across the Vilaine River’s bridges in the vicinity.
I knew from the parking lot, it definitely wasn’t going to be your average restroom break.
* All photos by Margo Millure
For another lovely village in Brittany you may want to also read this post about Guerande. Or you may enjoy reading about colorful Provence, another one of our favorite regions in France.
La Roche Bernard, Bretagne (Brittany)
Header Photo by skeeze
17 thoughts on “Colorful Village of La Roche-Bernard, Brittany, France”
Oh, I love the red colors in every photo, Margo! Was it conscious or just accidental to take photos with red color on them? 🙂
Beautiful photos! While I have spent a lot of time in Paris I have never visited any other part of France. I hope to have the opportunity to go sometime! Lovely countryside and crepes? What could be better!
A very interesting article, with good pictures that do convey what Brittany is all about.
It seems like there was red in every photo…Nice vibrant colors. Looks like a lovely place. I’m sure the food was amazing! *sigh (someone take me back to france)
Great article and beautiful pictures, Margo. I was in Brittany and it´s as wonderful as you show it! So colorful. And the harbors, lighthouses and beaches are gorgeous.
Love those pops of color throughout the town.
@ Jessica – The thing that is so remarkable about France, is how you can get on a high speed train from Paris and be transported to so many diverse landscapes in a matter of hours. There is something that many of France’s small towns have in common, but all are equally unique. Let’s go!
@ Federico – Thanks! Def a special area and very colorful and friendly.
@ Mica – Yes, I say this all the time too “someone take me back to France” ! I’ve been craving crepes and oysters all day!
@ Nerea — I agree! All gorgeous!
Without looking at the map, I don’t know if we passed through La Roche, but I do know we did not stop there. Our three days in Brittany was WAY too short, but it was totally charmante. Everyone said to us–aren’t you going to the South of France, with a pitying look. Nope. We went NW and didn’t regret a moment. Love going to the less touristed areas.
Absolutely GORGEOUS photos, Margo! 🙂 You’re right – it feels like spring!
OMG I LOVE all the colours! I want to go! Such amazing photo-ops!
Next time you’re in Brittany base yourself in Chateaubriant between Nantes and Rennes. Then explore towns like St. Julien de Vouvant (love that name). The park near the cathedral is where I would like my final resting place to be. So picturesque it would make a rose blush with embarrassment.
what a great description, Charlie! I do find myself very drawn to that area. Thanks for the recommendations too – can’t wait to check them out someday!
Ah, I would love to stop in this town. Great photos and I really want to be there through your post!
I love the cute and quaint colors that you captured! Love it!
We are about to spend three weeks in La Roche Bernard. Coming from the other side of the planet we live in a completely different world. On reflection our worlds are not that different. We value good honest people and good service -including good food and good wine. We want to meet and get to know people who have grown up with us in a completely different world – that is what we are really looking forward too.
Bring on Brittany. Bring on France. Go the all Blacks and may us all enjoy international comradeship.
Outstanding, Warren! Hope you have a wonderful trip – would love to hear the details. I really can’t get enough of this part of the world!