13 must-do things to do in Saint-Brieuc

Observer les oiseaux de la Réserve Naturelle

Going to Côtes-d’Armor? Here’s our list of the best things to do in Saint-Brieuc!

Set course for Brittany and one of its jewels, the town of Saint-Brieuc. Nestled in the eponymous bay on the English Channel, it’s a charming town with cobbled streets lined with corbelled and timber-framed houses.

But Saint-Brieuc isn’t just about its exceptional heritage, it’s also a fantastic aquatic playground and parks that invite you to take a stroll. Here’s a closer look at what you can do in Saint-Brieuc!

1. Stroll downtown

Visiter Saint-Brieuc : Flâner dans le centre-ville

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Step back in time to medieval times as you stroll through old Saint-Brieuc. Amateur photographers have a field day with the half-timbered houses that flourish between Place au Lin and Place Louis Guilloux. They’ll stop in front of the Maison du Ribeault, the oldest house in town, to marvel at its corbelling and sculpted decorations.

You can also stroll around Place du Matray, where the covered market invites you to take a short break, before taking the pulse of the bars and cafés in Place du Chai.

2. Visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Visiter la cathédrale Saint-Étienne

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The central point around which the town was built, Saint-Etienne’s Cathedral is one of Saint-Brieuc’s must-sees. Built between the 13th and 18th centuries, it is one of the few fortified churches in Brittany and is a listed historic monument.

While the facade is impressive in itself, it’s inside that the church reveals its finest assets. The delicate recumbent statue, the colorful stained-glass windows (one depicting scenes from the Old Testament), the colossal organ and the altar are all well worth a visit.

3. Shopping on rue Saint-Guillaume and rue Charbonnerie

Visiter Saint-Brieuc : Faire les boutiques dans les rues Saint-Guillaume et Charbonnerie

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The commercial heart of the town, Rue Saint-Guillaume and Rue Charbonnerie feature prominently on this list of things to do in Saint-Brieuc. Enter the craft stores and treat yourself to local earthenware or cookies. In between stores, look up: these two streets have in common buildings reflecting the Art Deco movement, with floral motifs, rounded corners and ironwork.

It’s also not uncommon to spot street art frescoes: the artists here express themselves on the city’s walls. To find out more about this art form, you can take part in guided tours.

4. Visit the Maison Saint-Yves chapel

Visiter la chapelle de la Maison Saint-Yves

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Joost Adriaanse

This new must-see in Saint-Brieuc is all about heritage and art. Built in 1927, the Maison Saint-Yves chapel has long been a place of life and study for hundreds of seminarians.

Push open the doors to discover a colossal fresco depicting the arrival of the monk Brieuc in the bay. You’ll marvel at the mosaics by Odorico, the rich furnishings and the long library of ancient books. The frescoes by Xavier de Langlais are a feast for the eyes.

Good to know: every Tuesday and Thursday during the vacations, volunteers organize guided tours.

5. Visit Villa Rohannec’h

Que faire Saint-Brieuc : Visiter la Villa Rohannec’h

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A must-see in Saint-Brieuc is the Villa Rohannec’h and its 7-hectare park. Italianate in inspiration, its ochre and pink hues make it stand out from the Breton landscape. Its facade is nonetheless remarkable! It is not possible to visit the interior of the building, which is occupied by artists in residence, except on rare occasions.

The park is open to the public and offers a lovely space for strolling between the upper town and the port. Here, redwoods stand alongside blue cedars, ferns and Lambert cypresses. Take a stroll along the paths to admire the view of the sea, and make your way back down to the Légué marina.

6. Discover the Briquèterie museum

Découvrir le musée de la Briquèterie

Photo credit: baiedesaintbrieuc.com

Here’s another must-see in Saint-Brieuc if you’re a history buff. Set in a beautiful park, this museum tells the story of the town’s industrial past, which revolved around tile and brick-making. The Nuit des feux (Night of Fires) in September is one of the site’s highlights, along with a ride on the Petit Train (the train that brought economic growth to the Côtes du Nord region) and live entertainment.

7. Visit the Museum of Art and History

Musée d’art et d’histoire

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Labelled a Musée de France, it is dedicated to the arts, archaeology and popular traditions of the region. Paintings from the 17th to the early 20th centuries are by such great names as Jean-François Hue, Guillaume Fouace, Georges Clairin and Etienne Bouillé. The collection of photographer Lucien Bailly includes some 10,000 prints. A must-see in Saint-Brieuc!

8. Walk in city parks

Marcher dans les parcs de la ville

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We leave the gloom of the museums behind and head for the great outdoors, to the city’s various parks. The town has been awarded 4 flowers and the Fleur d’or trophy for its floral decorations and landscaped areas.

Our first stop is Parc des promenades, ideal if you’re looking for something to do in Saint-Brieuc with children. Among the trees and sculptures, you’ll find a 500 m² playground and a squatepark.

Then head for the Gouédic valley, considered the city’s green lung. Here, you can walk or cycle along the sandy path, or sit back and read in the shade of the trees.

We end on the Ty Coat park, with its 1,850 m² of rosebushes, ornamental pond and children’s playground.

9. The Douaniers trail

Que faire Saint-Brieuc : Parcourir le sentier des Douaniers

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Take to the skies on the sentier des douaniers, a must-do in Saint-Brieuc. The GR34 stretches for 2,000 kilometers from Mont-Saint-Michel to Saint-Nazaire, but for the section we’re interested in, you’ll find yourself endlessly contemplating the breathtaking panoramas it offers. Between rugged relief and turquoise beaches, beauty is everywhere.

10. Spend an evening on the port of Le Légué

Passer une soirée sur le port du Légué

Photo credit: baiedesaintbrieuc.com

To recover from your emotions, let’s head for Port Légué, a must-see in Saint-Brieuc. The best way to get there is via the Gouédic valley!

Sit on a terrace in front of a colorful facade and watch the boats and passers-by go by.

11. Cruise around Saint-Brieuc

Partir en croisière autour de Saint-Brieuc

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It would be a shame not to take advantage of the city’s openness to the sea! If you’re still wondering what to do in Saint-Brieuc, we’ve got the answer: a boat trip. On the program: enchanting places whose names invite you to daydream: the island of Bréhat, the archipelago of 7 islands, Cap d’Erquy – Cap Fréhel and the bay of Saint-Brieuc.

12. Water activities

Que faire Saint-Brieuc : Faire des activités nautiques

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Other must-do activities in Saint-Brieuc for water sports enthusiasts include :

  • stand-up paddle: glide along the blue waters at your own pace;
  • kayaking: a must for the whole family ;
  • windsurfing: take advantage of windy conditions to try your hand at this gliding sport;
  • catamarans: you’re in a land of sailors, so take advantage of the opportunity to take a few sailing lessons or go for a walk accompanied by a skipper!

13. Birdwatching in the Nature Reserve

Observer les oiseaux de la Réserve Naturelle

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35,000 birds of 112 species can be discovered here. Birdwatchers will have a field day!

So, where do you go to see them? On the shores of Langueux, at La Cage in Hillion, at the Pointe du Grouin or on the Bon-Abri dunes.

From October to March, shorebirds come to land around the Bay of Saint-Brieuc. Between November and February, you can watch swans, ducks and geese!

And also

  • Enjoy the great beaches of Saint-Quay-Portrieux, Binic-Étables and Plérin;
  • Take a tour of the bay’s most beautiful viewpoints;
  • Admire the Harel de la Noë viaducts.

What to eat in Saint-Brieuc

Où manger à Saint-Brieuc ?

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Finally, a visit to Saint-Brieuc means sampling the local gastronomy, between land and sea. The first thing to try is a dish of coco de Paimpol, one of Saint-Brieuc’s specialties. Contrary to its name, this is not a tropical fruit, but a type of semi-dry white bean with a delicious nutty taste. They are harvested from mid-July to mid-October, after about 90 days of growth, and can be eaten hot, cold, in salads or as a mousse.

Another of Saint-Brieuc’s gastronomic specialties: shellfish and seafood. The star product here is the bouchot mussel, harvested at low tide by passionate mussel farmers. You’ll fall in love with its delicate flavor, which goes perfectly with the other delicacies on the platter: oysters, prawns, scallops and local fish.

Alternative for carnivores: the famous buckwheat galette, topped with a Saint-Brieuc sausage, to be eaten while walking.

The meal concludes with a wide range of Côtes d’Armor cheeses, including :

  • Mozza Breizh, made with buffalo milk;
  • Tomme du Névet, a raw-milk cow’s milk cheese;
  • Ménez Hom, a raw-milk goat’s cheese;
  • Timanoix, which, as its name suggests, is flavoured with walnuts;
  • Le ti Guéméné, a cheese sprinkled with pieces of andouille sausage;
  • The Timad trapdoor, with its delicate hazelnut flavour.

Where to eat in Saint-Brieuc?

  • at L’Amiral restaurant, serving delicious scallops and vegetarian cuisine;
  • at the crêperie des promenades, to taste crêpes, galettes and seafood;
  • restaurant l’air du temps for a bistronomic interlude. The restaurant has been listed in the Michelin Guide and Gault Millau for over 10 years!

How do I get to Saint-Brieuc?

There are no airports in Saint-Brieuc, the nearest being Rennes and Brest. A flight comparator like Skyscanner will help you find a cheap plane ticket. Once in these cities, you can reach Saint-Brieuc by rental car, TGV or TER.

From Paris, you can reach Saint-Brieuc in just over 2 hours by TGV. The bus option is also available from Paris-Bercy, but takes much longer: 7 hours!

Where to stay in Saint-Brieux?

From charming hotels to bed & breakfasts and campsites, the full range of budget and upmarket accommodation is available in and around Saint-Brieuc.

Rates for overnight stays in 2 to 4 star hotels vary enormously. Use a hotel comparator to find the best deal!

If you want to immerse yourself in local life, choose a bed & breakfast! Many of them are located in remarkable buildings! If, on the other hand, you want to retain your privacy, opt for Airbnb accommodation.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Brittany