A Week in Brittany: Bénodet

Brittany, or Bretagne in French, is a region in the north-western part of France, bordering the Atlantic. Easily accessible by car or train, it is known for its dairy production, apples and cider, and its fishing. It has a long history and strong Celtic ties, and is even home to the famous forest where King Arthur pulled his sword from the stone.

I spent a week there with my family in August, and explored some great spots. We focused our vacation on southern Brittany, keeping within about an hour's drive in any direction from Quimper, the closest city to where we were staying. As we had rented a car, we took day trips to various points of interest. One of the firstsuch points was the beach town of Bénodet.

The beach at Benodet, looking toward the direction of the casino. This photo was taken in the early evening, so the beach has fewer people on it than usual.

Bénodet is located about 20 minutes from Quimper, on the mouth of the Odet river, with a bay on the Finistere coastline. It is a notable French seaside tourist town, complete with crowds of people frequenting the beaches and the shops day and night. Unlike some of the less touristy spots, shops stay open later at night and many are even open on Sundays. Although the town itself is fairly pretty, the beaches and water activities are what draw people to the town. Besides the casino, of course!

The view on the opposite side of the beach, where the bay meets the mouth of the river Odet.

The bay of Benodet is called the Anse du Trez, where the largest beach is located. It is a public beach so families can enjoy the beach for free, and there are several sailboats for hire as well as lessons offered for those who are interested in learning to sail. The corniche or boardwalk stretches the length of the beach, and there are several small eateries just across the main road. Walking away from the river, the corniche curves around the bay, and the casino is found at the other end of the bay.

Some of the sailboats for hire lining the beach.

Heading towards the river the boardwalk becomes the corniche de la plage, where there is a sandy beach along the river and several boats in the small harbour. The children enjoyed watching the boats come and go, although they both complained that the water was too cold for swimming! I thought it was fine, but I guess after spending two weeks in the warm waters of southern Italy, the Atlantic isn't quite the same temperature. Still, they had a great time wading in with bare feet, watching the seagulls and the small fish near shore, and riding the carousel.

August is high tourist season in France, when most people take their five weeks of yearly holidays and travel to one of the hundreds of popular destinations in the country. Although not quite as crazy as the Cote d'Azur, the beaches in Brittany are popular, and we could definitely feel the squeeze of tourists when we were there. I think it would be more relaxing in the off-season, such as June or September, when the weather is still great but the crowds are greatly diminished!

The calmer, sandier beach on the mouth of the Odet, near sunset.

Still, Benodet is popular for a reason, and that's because it has agreat beach, plenty of both family-friendly and adult-oriented activities, and is close to several other great spots in the region. We spent a great few hours there, before heading back to our quieter cottage near Quimper. For more information on where we stayed in Brittany, click HERE to read about the Gites de Kervinic.