Visiting Dinard 'in season' is a little like stepping into one of the canvases Picasso painted here in the 1920s. Belle époque mansions built into the cliffs form a timeless backdrop to the beach dotted with blue-and-white-striped bathing tents and the beachside carnival. Views across to St-Malo are brilliant.
With its narrow cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and colossal castle topped by witch's-hat turrets, Vitré rivals Dinan as one of Brittany's best-preserved medieval towns. It has far fewer tourists and a more laissez-faire village air than most spots, especially during the slow season when it is virtually empty.
Tucked into the curve of a shimmering shell-shaped bay, the idyllic and tranquil little fishing port of Cancale, 14km east of St-Malo, is famed for its offshore parcs à huîtres (oyster beds) that stretch for kilometres around the surrounding coastline. The excellent oysters themselves are shipped across northern France.
Forêt de Paimpont
Legendary for being the site of Brocéliande – the place where King Arthur received his magic sword, Excalibur, from the Lady of the Lake – the bewitching Paimpont Forest is about 40km southwest of Rennes. This is also the magical forest where the Lady entombed the mythical wizard Merlin (his tomb can be found here to this day).
Pointe du Grouin
At the northern tip of the wild coast between Cancale and St-Malo, the Pointe du Grouin nature reserve juts out on a windblown headland and into the foaming sea. The coast between Pointe du Grouin and St-Malo is a rolling terrain of pastures and sand dunes that begs for exploration and dozens of trails can be followed in the immediate area.