If you think that France’s nicest beaches are only on the Mediterranean, you are wrong. Audierne in Brittany has one of the best beaches on the coast of Northern France. But that’s not all. Historic architecture, lush green fields, delicious restaurants, chic locals, and outstanding views complete the feast. Audierne is in Finistere, the western tip of France that protrudes the most into the Atlantic Ocean. The place does indeed feel like the end of the world, and we loved it!
We were spending some time in Nantes, (Historic) Brittany’s economic and cultural powerhouse. The weather was good, so we decided to explore the coast. Little did we know that Audierne would blow our minds. The little town boomed from the 15th to 19th centuries, when it was an important fishing port. That’s why gorgeous buildings line its lovely cobbled streets. Today, yachts have replaced cargo vessels. Fancy boats from all over the world come to admire its outstanding nature.
- 1 Things to Do in Audierne
- 2 How to Get to Audierne
- 3 Where to Stay in Audierne
Things to Do in Audierne
Explore the Historic Center
The town’s center lies where the River Le Goyen meets the ocean. The historic center goes from the marina on the riverfront up a slope. You will find superb architecture here. The place is small, so you can discover everything on foot. Begin your walk on Audierne bay, where the market and marina are. Do not forget to check the Maritime Museum of the Cape Sizun, a gorgeous building that showcases more than 2000 years of life. From the marina, you will see the Chateau de Locqueran, a 19th century castle surrounded by green gardens.
Continue to the west and walk around the little streets that go up the small hill. Every single building is beautiful. However, two churches are worth mentioning. The Church of Saint-Raymond d’Audierne is a 16th century granite masterpiece. However, the bell tower is from the 18th century. Look for the three boat reliefs that decorate its façade. The Church of Saint-Joseph d’Audierne is only 100 years old but equally beautiful. Check out its original stained glass windows.
Spend Some Time on the Beach
One of the reasons we wanted to visit Brittany was to check its famous beaches, considered by many amongst the best in France. We have to agree. Totally different from the ones in the Mediterranean, but equally impressive. Brittany’s coast is rugged, raw, and endless. You will admire long sandy stretches of sand, tiny coves, huge stones, and tall cliffs. The area is a photographer’s paradise. Be sure to visit the coast at all times. The weather changes a lot, providing unbelievable views and dramatic colors.
Audierne has more than one outstanding beach. The first one south of the centre is Plage de Capuchins, at the end of Quay de Jacques de Thézac. It’s a small sandy beach with shallow waters ideal for kids. Cross the Passarelle du Capuchins to admire the beach from above. Next, you will find Plage de Trescadec, a stunning long sandy beach. Walk to the Raoulic Lighthouse for the best views of the beach. The last one is Plage de Saint Evette, after the stones at the end of Trescadec. To rent boats or learn how to navigate, pop into the century-old Cap Sizun Nautical Center.
Visit the Botanical Gardens
Though the rainy season goes from October to February, it rains all year round in Audierne. We are not complaining. That’s why Audierne is so green and lush. Tall trees, palm trees, lush bushes, and a plethora of flowers line its street. In addition, every single house has a manicured garden. From country landscapes to exotic gardens, Audierne has an incredible range of green areas. In fact, a couple of green parks near the beaches have wooden tables and benches for picnics. No entrance fee is required.
One of the best Botanical Gardens in Brittany and all of France is in Audierne. We are talking about Ar Paeron Botanical Gardens. Go inside the 2.5-hectare park and prepare to be dazzled. You will find over 2500 types of plants from the entire world. The section on aromatic plants is especially interesting. There’s a small entrance fee. However, you have tables for picnics and games at no extra charge. The park is a 15-minute walk from Saint Evette Beach.
Try Local Cuisine by the Port
We didn’t know that French crepes originated in Brittany. It seems the crusaders brought buckwheat to Brittany in the 13th century. The local story goes that a local woman accidentally dropped some buckwheat dough on a hot pot and, voila! Now, how many different crepes can there be? As many as you can imagine! Audierne has some of the best crepe restaurants in Brittany. Salty or sweet, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there is a crepe for everyone. However, don’t worry if you are not into crepes. Audierne has restaurants for every kick and fancy.
We loved the crepes from Crêperie Ty Clech Audierne, overlooking the marina. The house is gorgeous, and the service is impeccable. Another great creperie is Crêperie de la Plage, with direct views of Trescadec Beach. To eat with the best views in town go to Chez ZETI, overlooking the lighthouse. They have an extensive menu with loads of options. Our favorite eatery is La Caravane Bleue. This chic food truck has the coolest terrace overlooking Plage des Capucins. Locals flock here for the food and the vibe, especially when there’s live music.
Walk along the River to Pont Croix
Audierne is perfect for hiking. Several paths take you to nearby natural spots and cute little towns. We walked all the way to Pont Croix in Finistere, Western Brittany. To get there, you have to walk along Le Goyen River. The path is wide, flat, and lined with tall trees on one side, and the river to the other. No cars are allowed, and it’s far enough from the road to be extremely peaceful. It takes around 1.5 hours, depending on your speed. We advice you not to rush and intake the fabulous scenery. If you are tired, you can take a public bus back to Audierne.
Pont Croix is a 13th century picture-perfect town on top of a small hill next to the river. Countless granite houses built from the 15th to the 18th centuries populate its streets. The church presiding over Pont Croix is Notre-Dame de Roscudon, a granite marvel from the 13th century. If you get hungry, you’ll find a couple of bakeries, creperies, and restaurants. Note that the Pont Croix street market takes place every Tuesday on Place de la République. The best hotel in Pont Croix is Le 29 d’à côté, a lovely house with fabulous rooms, delicious food, and professional service.
Go on a Day Trip to Pointe du Raz
The best day excursion you can do from Audierne is to Pointe du Raz, the westernmost tip of France. Cap Sizun means cape in French, Pointe, a long point, and du Raz, tidal waves. That is exactly what you will see in this unbelievable natural spot. We are talking about a rugged landscape of massive cliffs, huge stones, brave waters, deep blue oceans, and endless skies. In front, two magical lighthouses, Tevennec and La Vieille, and the mythical Ile de Sein. No wonder it is Finisterre’s top-rated natural attraction.
To get there take public bus No. 52 from Audierne (less than 1 hour). Adventurers can bike (one hour) or even walk (up to 3 hours). The bus leaves you at a parking lot. From there to the cape, you have to walk along a wooden path for half an hour. Just before the cliffs, you will see the Monument Notre-Dame-des-Naufragés, a statue from 1903. A 40-minute walk to the right of the cape takes you to Trepasses Beach. A 20 minute to the left takes you to Monsieur Papier, a gorgeous café-shop with the best views of the end of the world. Their coffee, cakes, and snacks are delicious. We could have stayed there forever!
Spend One Night at Ile de Sein
If you have more time, you should spend at least one night at Ile de Sein, one of the best islands in France. This 1 mile long, 0.3 km mile, 58-hectare piece of rock is some 8 km from the Pointe du Raz. Since no cars are allowed on the island, you can walk freely, breathing fresh air. The island is popular amongst nature lovers and history buffs too. It played a key role during World War II. The Atlantic Ocean hits the island constantly producing epic views. Some 100 people live year-round on the island, so you’ll find everything you need.
You can walk the entire island in half an hour. For memorable views, walk to the Isle de Sein Grand Lighthouse. There’s an authentic stone chapel next to it. To get to the Ile de Sein Island, you have to hop on a ferry directly from Audierne. Boats leave from Quai Camille Pelletan in the center of Audierne and take one hour. The trip is an attraction in itself, so grab a window seat. There are two ports on the island, so check before showing up for departure. Since the weather is harsh and changes a lot, bring warm clothes and a hat.
How to Get to Audierne
As you can imagine there is no airport in Audierne. The biggest airports in Brittany are the ones in Nantes and Rennes. Thus, if coming from abroad, you must fly there first. Brest has a smaller airport, served mainly by Air France with connections to several French cities. There are seasonal flights from London, and sometimes from other international destinations. From Brest, you have to take a bus to Audierne that takes approximately 3 hours.
Take note that there are no direct trains to Audierne. Only buses connect the area to the rest of Brittany. To get to Audierne from Nantes, we first took a train to Quimper. The journey lasts between 2 to 3.5 hours. The train from Rennes to Quimper takes approximately the same time. The bus from Quimper to Audierne takes approximately 1 hour. We strongly recommend stopping in Quimper, at least for a couple of hours before you take the bus. The city is gorgeous! Another fantastic place on your way to or back from Quimper is Vannes.
Where to Stay in Audierne
Audierne has hotels for all tastes and budgets. As you probably know, we are into hotels with views. Since Audierne has some of the best views in Brittany and France, we have selected two great options just for you. The Hotel Le Goyen is on Place Jean Simon, overlooking the marina and bay. Thus, you can walk to the center of town and the beach in no time. The rooms are comfortable and have a balcony with views of the sea. Since locals manage the hotel, they have great tips on the area. Both the onsite bar and restaurant are amongst the best in Audierne.
The other hotel we love is a beachfront property on Trescadec. However, it is just a 15-minute walk to Audierne’s center. The Hotel De la Plage is a medium size hotel with direct views of the sea and modern-day conveniences. The best rooms have a balcony facing the water. Everything is decorated with a maritime theme and looks very Breton. The restaurant offers gorgeous views and serves traditional breakfasts. You can also sip your favorite beverage at the lounge while admiring the sea.