Just a short voyage from the UK's south coast, Brittany is a rich cruising ground offering numerous charming ports and harbours for those with limited cruising time
Sailing in Brittany means restaurants with wonderful seafood, crêpes, and gallettes, some lovely towns and squares, and close Celtic associations.
One of the favoured routes to Brittany is from Guernsey to either Lézardrieux or Tréguier; both handsome towns, passing the impressive Roches Douvres lighthouse on the way.
Both rivers have deepwater entrances, a rarity on this coast where the majority of marinas have sills or locks.
The Basse Crublent buoy off Tréguier can sometimes be a stretch too far if the belting tide turns against you as you close the coast, and Lézardrieux is more achievable.
The tides between Guernsey and Brittany run NW/SE and you get little lift on this passage since normally you are crossing them at right angles.
If you choose Lézardrieux you have the option of going upriver and locking into the charming little town of Pontrieux.
In both marinas the tide roars through the pontoons making berthing a challenge and it can pay to wait at anchor for it to slacken off.
Brehat is lovely with an anchorage to the south off La Chambre but it is difficult to get out of the tide and the big ranges require more scope and swinging room.
There is a sheltered passage to Paimpol which is another delightful town with vast drying shoals but a well buoyed channel with adequate depth near high water.
The Brittany coast is rocky with off-lying hazards, but these are usually well marked.
There is an extensive reef between the entrances to Lézardrieux and Tréguier as well as Les Haux de Brehat and close attention to pilotage is essential, especially if you plan to use the short cuts.
Ploumanac’h, on the Côte de la Granite Rose, has beautiful pink boulders making for a spectacular entrance.
You need adequate rise of tide to clear the sill and enter the lagoon. Les Sept Îles archipelago are a bird reserve, with a vast gannetry.
The islands have an exclusion zone apart from two anchorages south of Île Bono, which require calm and settled weather.
Landing is only permitted on the Île aux Moines. The Lannion River – beware the bar at the entrance – has an anchorage off Le Yaudet. Locally owned buoys may be an issue.
You can dinghy up to town.
If you are sailing to France, here is what you need to know to avoid immigration and customs headaches for…
Sailing the English Channel for the first time can be a daunting prospect, especially if your sailing experience so far…
UK sailor Paul Dale shares his experiences of sailing to France after Brexit on his Jeanneau 30
For home-waters sailors who are considering a holiday cruise to France, Ken Endean looks at the options for making a…
Morlaix is spectacular with its huge viaduct, and a daunting approach.
The most direct line of approach is the Grand Chenal, narrow but deep, or take the Chenal de Tréguier.
Either way you need a full tide to carry you up to the town and any deviation from the transits near the locks will put you aground in deep mud.
The Île de Batz just to the NW of Roscoff is otherworldly, agricultural and rural.
The tide gallops between the island and the mainland and close attention to the marks is essential.
L’Aber Wrac’h has deepwater approaches with well-marked short cuts.
From the east the Passe de la Malouine runs north/south just west of the Île de Vierge lighthouse, this useful, daylight-only short cut saves going on to the Libenter Buoy.
An alternative for a Brittany departure would be to go from Salcombe straight to Roscoff, and then cruise eastabout and back via Guernsey.
Sailing in Brittany
Time taken: 3 weeks
Yarmouth to Braye – 66M
Portland to Braye – 54M
Braye to St Peter Port – 22M
Salcombe to St Peter Port, southabout – 72M
Salcombe to Roscoff – 90M
Dartmouth to Roscoff – 98M
St Peter Port to Lezardrieux – 46M
St Peter Port to the Bas Creublent Buoy – 43M + 8.5M up the river
Trains: from Morlaix
Ferries: Roscoff to Plymouth
Airports: Dinard, Rennes, Nantes, Quimper
Hazards while sailing in Brittany
Roches-Douvres Plateau, Les Haux de Brehat
Tidal Data: The French calculate their tides using coefficients. On a very low coefficient there can be occasions when they don’t open lock gates at all. Perros-Guirec is an example of this.