- A friendly uncrowded surf break and beautiful beach
- Great post-surf coffee and hearty food
- The quintessential Breton fishing village and harbour
- A drink & seafood tapas with a view
- An easy yet stunning coastal walk for the whole family
- Learning to surf with kids their age
- Crepes and ice cream
- Sailing boats
- Exploring the pretty and sheltered beaches along the coastal walk
Prepare in advance
Breton weather is notably changeable, so prepare for rain or shine. Skip the crowds and avoid the French traditional holiday month of August. It is best to book surf lessons well in advance during school holdiays (July and August in particular).
Good to know
Bretagne’s wild beaches are only accessible by car. Access to the beach is through a steep dune walk, so avoid bringing too much. Only pack a stroller/buggy that has large rubber, all-terrain tires.
It’s best to visit the beaches in Bretagne in the mornings or late afternoons to avoid traffic and busy car parks.
Recommended time of the year
Skip the crowds and avoid the French traditional holiday month of August. Early July and late August are best - it is lively but not too crowded.
If you are renting accommodation, you can buy ready-made buckwheat crepes (also known as ”galettes”). Just add ham, cheese and one egg for a cheap and cheerful - yet appropriately local - meal.
About This Day
This is the perfect France itinerary for active families who do not want to give up on local culture. Surfing is not only the best way to start the day in Bretagne, France, it’s also a great way to teach your children about self-confidence and resilience. If (like me) you started surfing late, you will know the benefit of starting kids surfing early in a fun and safe environment! Drive to Plage de la Guerite, where Ecole de Surf de Bretagne holds “kindergarten classes” for little surfers, aged 5-8. Afterward, refuel with local food and coffee at the school’s café in Plouharnel. Then, spend the rest of the day exploring the famously picturesque La Trinite sur Mer fishing village. Parents can sample local cider at a trendy bar-terrasse while the children dig into seafood tapas. Finally, enjoy the Chemin des Douaniers coastal walk and explore the sheltered coves along the way. Before the day ends, you feel like a local. And if you took the opportunity to kit out the family in sturdy Breton stripes and colorful wellies, you might just start looking like one.
Bretagne beaches like Plage de la Guerite are uncrowded, and the breaks are beginner-friendly. The perfect place to teach your kids how to surf. The Ecole de Surf de Bretagne has a great “Jardin des Vagues”' concept (best translated as ”Waves kindergarten”) for kids as young as 5- up to 8-year-olds. The instructors are super patient, experienced, and knowledgeable. Our daughter started surfing there (and had already clocked up 5 weeks of surfing by age 6 and a half). Our middle son started at 5 and was riding a white wave by Day 4 with these guys. With the children taking their classes, the parents can go out for a session on their own, or take a class to learn.
DIRECTIONS If you have already booked surfing classes, drive out of Plouharnel village towards Quiberon and take a right turn after the train crossing. The beach and surf school are signposted from the main road. Park at the beach car park. From there you can spot the surf school prefabs. If you have not yet booked, stop first at the ESB (Ecole de Surf de Bretagne) Café in Plouharnel to check availabilities.
TIP Pick a class in the morning. The beach is less busy, and there’s no better way to start the day. The sea temperature is pretty cold, so if you plan to stay in the area for some time, consider investing in wetsuits for surfing, swimming and playing in the water.
This is three locations in one - surf school office, surf shop and cafe.
Pay for a lesson, rent a board and afterwards, grab some post-surf coffee and a hearty burger or salad. We particularly liked the special burger with cheese from a local farm for added flavor.
The friendly staff can recommend kids’ options, from smoothies to kids menu to half-portions. You can chill on the large outdoor terrasse or retreat to the cozy dining room to shelter from Breton drizzle.
DIRECTIONS Drive back to the village of Plouharnel (about 10 minutes), and you will find the ESB Shop & Café directly on your right in the town center. You cannot miss the large white-on-black signage. Ample parking is available.
TIP Park at the back. It is further away from the main road and a less cramped space.
La Trinite sur Mer is a former fishing village as well as modern marina and sailing center. Stroll the harbor and watch the sailing boats, including some serious large, round-the-world sailing yachts. Stop for crepes or ice cream on the sea front, pick up some pretty local tinned sardines and shop for a true Breton top in a traditional sailing apparel shop. Do not forget to explore the picturesque back streets, lined with blue-shelter houses and stone-walled gardens filled with hydrangeas. The village’s well-preserved traditional houses are gorgeously manicured.
DIRECTIONS From Plouharnel, take the coastal road through pretty Carnac sea resort. Within 20 minutes, you will arrive at incredibly picturesque La Trinite sur Mer. There is a free car park on Rue Mane Rohr and pay-parking by the harbor.
TIP Be careful with little ones by the harbor, as the quays are not fenced off.
Looking for an unusual souvenir from your Breton surfing trip? Local surf brand Hoalen creates sturdy, understated basics, starting from age 4. The t-shirts are made from a heavyweight jersey that will last forever to be passed down from one child to the next. Older surfers will enjoy some well-made technical gear, like thick full-length wetsuits.
DIRECTIONS Walk down to the local church through winding streets. Hoalen Ocean Store is almost harbor-side, with a nice bench to rest outside.
This is a casual drinks-and-seafood tapas venue, with a wonderful roof terrasse with a view of the harbor and passing sailing boats. Grab a glass of local cider and some seafood tapas for the kids, sit back and enjoy.
DIRECTIONS L'Etage sits on top the local sailing center. You cannot miss the octagonal building at the far end of the harbor pier, only minutes away from Hoalen Ocean Store.
TIP Access is up a flight of stairs. You can leave your stroller downstairs (but take your valuables with you, just in case).
Chemin des Douaniers coastal walk
Finish your day with the stunning coastal walk to Pointe de Kervillen. This path used to be walked by customs officers patrolling the coast for contraband. It is an easy and very scenic walk with great views of the harbor and Quiberon peninsula. It is lined by very grand Breton houses and gardens - as well as some very pretty, family-friendly, sheltered beaches. At nightfall, the golden light shimmers on the ocean and through the pine trees for a magical experience. You can decide how far to walk depending on the age of your nuggets (you will need to retrace your steps to get back to La Trinite). Allow roughly for 1 hour, or more if you bring swimsuits and decide to go for a late afternoon swim and sandcastle session.
DIRECTIONS The trail starts just ahead of the sailing center and L'Etage bar. Accessible to pedestrians only (including strollers).
WE LOVEDA wonderful old mill in the center of La Trinite sur Mer has been tastefully renovated and decorated. It easily sleeps up to 10 people with 4 bedrooms and bathrooms. The outdoor deck looks out on beautiful, mature walled gardens. The property is located with a bakery and the seafront cafés within walking distance.
WE DIDN'T LIKEYou need to park your car about 10-minute walk away. You also need to bring your own towels and bed sheet (although rentals seem to be available).
TIPBook early, especially for the high season (July and August).
STAYED18 July, 2017 with 2 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old