Daphné is the author of the Brittany chapter for our latest France guidebook. Here she shares the best beaches along its epic coastline.

Brittany doesn’t offer your typical beach experience. It’s not a matter of throwing on a bikini and jumping straight into the sea; you’ll want to pack a fleece, a raincoat, and preferably – if you’re not one for cold water – a wetsuit.

But don’t let that put you off. The region, which alone makes up for a third of France’s coastline, is home to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches – ranging from sandy and tropical to wild and rocky, through surfer-friendly and ready to party.

Less crowded than most spots in warmer parts of the country, Brittany’s beaches often leave you with the satisfaction of having stumbled upon an unspoiled gem. You'll be surprised to find out how heavenly the seascape can get and the photo opp is well worth sacrificing those perfect tan lines.

These are our favorite beaches in beautiful Brittany.

1. Plage de l’Île Vierge, Crozon

One to watch from afar

A small cove on the eastern flank of the Crozon peninsula overlooked by pine trees and swathes of heather, Plage de l’Île Vierge was once one of the most coveted spots in the area on a sunny afternoon. And with good reason – facing transparent, turquoise waters, the white, stoney beach, quietly tucked away between the cliffs, can seem other-worldly.

For the past few years, however, access to the beach has been closed for safety reasons. Stick to the warning signs and snap your pic from above, while remaining on the GR34 footpath that circles the peninsula.

Detour: Plage de l’Île Vierge is only one of the many wonders you can expect to see if you hike the GR34 in the Crozon peninsula. Don’t miss the majestic Cap de la Chèvre further down south.

2. Plage de la Torche, Plomeur

Surfers’ paradise

A two-kilometer (1.2 miles) stretch of sand facing the Atlantic Ocean, Plage de la Torche has become known for its rolling waves that attract surfers from around the world all year long. For those who don’t travel in a cool, board-loaded campervan, the beach is also an inspiring spot for a walk, a lie-down and a swim, followed by a crêpe at one of the cute restaurants facing the sea.

Long stretch of white sand, Plage des Grands Sables in Brittany, France
One look at Plage des Grands Sables will make you realise why the island's known for its beauty © Pascale Gueret / Shutterstock

3. Plage des Grands Sables, Belle-Île-en-Mer

For the sailing enthusiasts

Located on an island literally named after its beauty, Plage des Grands Sables lives up to the reputation of Belle-Île. You'll find it after a 15-minute car drive from the main town, Le Palais, featuring beautiful views of the coast and the neighboring islands of Houat and Hoëdic.

A long stretch of sand protected from the wind and bathed in sunlight throughout the day, it’s the perfect place for a relaxing family day out. The beach’s prime location has also made it a hotspot for water sports. You can rent kayaks, paddles and windsurfing equipment from the nearby sailing school.

4. Plage de la Mine d’Or, Pénestin

Best beach for a sunset

Somewhere between the setting of Dune and that of a desert island movie, Plage de la Mine d’Or is one of Brittany’s most astonishing beaches. The 2km-long site is bordered by imposing, ochre-colored cliffs that were mined for gold at the end of the 19th century, giving the Mine d’Or – "goldmine" in French – its name.

A popular spot in the summer, the beach is without doubt one of the most spectacular sights in the area, but you’ll also find cute, intimate coves if you head further south on the walking trail.

Planning tip: Head to the beach at sunset, when most of the crowd has cleared — the cliffs are drenched in a beautiful golden-orangey color.

5. Plage des Sables Rouges, Île de Groix

The perfect picnic stop on a bike trip

The rocks that make up the island of Groix’s coast are known to contain lots of garnet and when the weather gets stormy, particles of the mineral scatter along some of the beaches, coloring the sand a surprising shade of red. On the eastern side of the island, just a short walk from the town of Locmaria, Plage des Sables Rouges is one of the spots where this phenomenon is most visible. A small, cozy beach that is popular with local families, the site is easily accessible from the coastal path and protected from the wind.

Planning tip: Groix is a small island; if you can, skip the car and go beach-hopping on a bike.

Aerial view of Saint-Malo Intra-Muros, Brittany, France
Escape the bustling streets of Saint-Malo for a stroll along Plage du Sillon © encrier / Getty Images

6. Grande Plage du Sillon, Saint-Malo

Make your fishing debut

Stretching over 3km (1.8 miles) and overlooked by fancy hotels and restaurants, the quiet Plage du Sillon sits right next to the center of Saint-Malo and is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It makes for a lovely walk with views of the town’s famous fortified walls and, in the distance, of the 17th-century National Fort.

As you get nearer to the southern side of the beach, you’ll notice locals armed with buckets crawling over rocks fishing for crabs, clams and oysters. It’s one of the most popular hobbies in Saint-Malo, so don’t hesitate to get involved. Always check out the latest rules on quotas and protected species before you set off.

Detour: A few kilometers from Plage du Sillon, you’ll find Pointe de la Varde, a protected natural site culminating 32 meters (105ft) above sea level, offering an unobstructed view of the surrounding bay. Walk north through Plage du Minihic and catch the GR34 footpath that will take you all the way to the site.

7. Grande Plage de Carnac, Carnac

For a family day out

Carnac’s claim to fame isn’t exactly beach-related: the area is mostly known for hosting the world’s highest concentration of standing stones dating back to the 5th century BCE. But just a five-minute drive from the site, lining the bay of Quiberon, you’ll find a few sandy beaches – five, to be precise – that are Carnac’s pride and joy.

The Grande Plage is the biggest one of them. A long stretch of sand sheltered from the waves and featuring typical striped beach huts, it’s popular with local families and the perfect spot for keen sandcastle makers.

Planning tip: There are plenty of restaurants and snack bars within walking distance of the beach.

8. Plage de l’anse du Pissot, Pléneuf-Val-André

The insider pick

Access to the small Plage de l’anse du Pissot is not easy. From the GR34 footpath, you’ll have to keep your eyes out for the steep set of stairs that takes you down to the hidden, intimate beach. Much lesser known than its bigger neighbor, Plage du Val André, it’s well worth going out of your way to find the spot if you’re a fan of beautiful, unspoiled natural beauty.

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