Travel Tips

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Visiting the Northern Coast of France

I promise you I started with very pure and innocent plans to visit one or two memorials in Normandy.  That’s all.  An easy peasy day trip, or so I thought.

Then I began looking for places to stay and somehow my desires drifted along the coast of France.  I found myself asking, “if you had a week in France, how would you spend it? Where would you go?”  It turns out for me it was the lure that the northern coast of France is the home of King Arthur legends! It was the reason I spent days in our local library pouring through travel guides hoping for a hint of a medieval knight in shining armor tour… and came away with an escargot and a mussels tour.

I did come up with a general idea of what we could do and where we could go. So I packed our bags and decided if fortune would smile on us from above like a holy grail beacon, many amazing things would pop up along the way.  Then I decided to break the news to my husband.

“Honey I made our reservations!  Instead of a renting a place near the beach I found a French cottage in the countryside!”

“Ok, that’s nice… I guess.  Where are we staying?”

“We’ll be near Nantes and for the same price as three days on the beach we can stay in the country for a week!”

He was sure I was out of my mind but he knew by the look of glee on my face that nothing less than a week would please me.  So he decided to take the safer route and ask, “What the hell is in Nantes?” 

Now.  I believe there is a good deal of pleasure to be found in planning and imaging an adventure… but there is a great deal of anxiety when it comes to acting on it.  When I want to take my family some place far away from the comfort of their home… I give them a light itinerary.  It helps that I know what kind of things interest them and it is especially important that I don’t overwhelm them with details.  At least not at first.

So I told them we would visit a castle in Nantes, an island with a monastery, and a memorial in Normandy.

For the most part that was true.

Here are a few of the neat things I found along the northern coast of France!  It would simply be a shame to not pass this information on.

Northern France


  • We begin our journey by Traveling to Chateau Bretagne  
    • Normandy shares a border with Brittany, and Nantes was once a part of Brittany. If you plan to get a good understanding of Breton, without a doubt you must begin here.
  • Why the Isle of Nantes is Not for Everyone
    • Jules Verne fans flock to this island with good reason, but let me warn you… certain people should avoid it at all costs.
  • 5 Budget Friendly Places you should see in Nantes
    • Make time for cultural spaces and give your wallet a break.  Here are 5 free or affordable places to spend your day.
  • 7 Places to Explore near Nantes
    • Leave the city to experience some of the iconic eats and sweets of the region.


  • 17 Things You didn’t Know You Could See between Nantes to Dinan
    • If your plan is to travel straight away from Nantes to Mont-Saint-Michel, this will inspire you to make a detour and explore Saint-Nazaire, Guérande, and Dinan on the way.
  • 5 Medieval Stops from Dinan to Pontorson You don’t want to Miss!
    • From Guérande to Pontorson you can indulge your King Arthur fantasies by visiting the dark forest that spun their stories to life.  On your way to Mont-Saint-Michel you can try your hand at a couple of trades or stop in Dinan for the castle.  You can easily make these day trips from Dinan.


  • The 33 Terribly Good Reasons You Should Visit Normandy
    • Normandy is more than a day trip or at least it should be.
  • Let’s Take a Moment to Reflect on the Battle of Normandy
    • The Big Red One Memorial at Omaha Beach holds a personal significance for us. Learning your unit’s history is a big part of Esprit de Corps. It’s one thing to hear about their actions in battle… it’s another to see what they were really up against. Luckily for us we had a personal tour guide.  If you don’t have a guide I share with you a couple of infographics to prepare your for the Battle of Normandy.

Best of Eats and Sweets

  • Nantes
    • The city of Nantes does a very good job highlighting each year where are all the best places to eat are.  You can find details of those eateries here (
    • If you want to find something along the way the Green Tourist Line will introduce you to several eateries.
    • We saw near the Place du Commerce several diverse options.
    • If you need a easy snack or light lunch on-the-go look for a La Mie Câline bakery.  There is one around the corner from the Commerce Light Rail station.
    • When in Nantes try Muscadet wine, Berlingo sweets and a Gâteau Nantais.
  • Pontorson
    • Crêperie Penn ar bed was easily able to feed our crew of 7 very well!  It is in a nice neighborhood of family restaurants so if you are looking for something other than crepes/galettes, you can find it here.
    • We saw a few restaurants near Mont-Saint-Michel that had better parking and could obviously handle larger crowds but we were too early for dinner and it was closed.
  • Manche
  • Falaise
    • I have not tried this… but I really want to! La Licorne is a crêperie but with unicorns! Count me in!
  • Food Festivals 
    • Check the Official Normandy Tourist site to see if there is a festival while you are visiting.
    • The Official Bretagne Tourism site allows you to search for events by date but it didn’t look like there was a festival dedicated to food… until I came across Bev Fearis’ Brittany’s Best Food Festivals!

Where ever you decide to go, don’t be afraid to try local ciders or apple brandy (Calvados), seafood (fruits de mer) dishes, and anything with cheese!

Hopefully you found this guide helpful enough to pin or share, but tell me… Do you have any tips or favorite trips to either Normandy or Bretagne?

We would love to know where and why we should go there next!

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