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    Brittany Road Trip - Saint-Malo to Rennes Itinerary

    Deciding where you would like to travel next can be a daunting and difficult task. With such an enormous amount of appealing destinations around the world, you may really have a hard time making up your mind where to go.

    Auto Europe is here to help you with planning your trip. Our road trip tips for France will support you in deciding on your route and will take you to the most idyllic and iconic travel destinations in the world. On this page you will find information tailored for an unforgettable road trip in Brittany, from Saint-Malo to Rennes.

    France has for years been one of the most popular travel destinations worldwide, and for good reason: the culinary field is unbelievably diverse, and the historical heritage of the different regions is truly fascinating. It is not only the capital, Paris, that you simply must visit. The municipalities in Brittany offer regional treasures that cannot be found anywhere else. Brittany, the northernmost region in France, is steeped in history, and thanks to the various cultural influences over the centuries, has become a melting pot of British and French culture, with roots dating back to Roman times. Nowhere else in France can you enjoy such a unique blend of impressive sights, gastronomy, and history. Booking a car hire in Brittany is a great way to see everything that is on offer!

    Driving Itinerary Distance Driving Time
    Saint-Malo to Dinan 20 miles 31 minutes
    Dinan to Montauban-de-Bretagne 23 miles 30 minutes
    Montauban-de-Bretagne to Rennes 20 miles 32 minutes
    Totals: 63 miles 1 hour 33 minutes

    Day 1: Saint-Malo

    Road trip in Saint-Malo, France Road trip in Saint-Malo, France

    What to do in Saint-Malo:

    Welcome to the first day of the road trip through Brittany! We will begin our journey in the former pirate stronghold of Saint-Malo, one of the most popular travel destinations in the region. Saint-Malo's largest and most impressive tourist attraction is the so-called La Ville Intra-Muros, which translates loosely as the "walled city". During the Middle Ages the structure was used to provide protection against the British. Within the walls you will find beautiful architecture and monuments, and free access to the walls, from which you will have an unforgettable view of the town and the sea in the distance.

    The northern coast of Saint-Malo is a top summer destination for enthusiastic beach-goers. The harbour hosts a number of private and commercial boats, some of which can be rented for a tour around the city in the English Channel. If you are going on your road trip to Saint-Malo in summer, don't miss the world folklore festival Folklore du Monde, with its dance and theatre events on the central square showcasing different cultures.

    Where to eat in Saint-Malo:

    Saint-Malo, like the rest of Brittany, is home to an especially interesting mixture of cultural influences. The local restaurant scene is mainly focused on traditional Breton cuisine: Breton crepes (sweet and savoury), mussels, oysters, and Kouing Aman - a pastry made of butter and sugar that is served piping hot with apples. The historical British influence offers an interesting culinary contrast to traditional English food. Discover dishes with plenty of fresh seafood that you can only find in Brittany.

    As a small coastal town, Saint-Malo is not known for vibrant night life, and in contrast to the rest of France, is not particularly famous for wine. Brittany has made itself known through other specialities: apple wine, apple brandy, honey wine, and muscadet (sweet wine) are popular beverages in Saint-Malo, and go well with the crepe-based dishes that one can enjoy in the town.

    Where to stay in Saint-Malo:

    There are numerous lodging options in Saint-Malo, and the town's closeness to the beach as well as the impressive view of the ocean make the city a very popular place to stay overnight. If you are on the lookout for top hotels in Saint-Malo, with breathtaking views over the sea, you should consider Hotel Le Nouveau Monde, a four-star hotel located a few minutes' walk from the city wall, picturesque beaches and the centre of the town. Amenities at the hotel include a heated pool, spa, hotel restaurant with bar, and WLAN service. If you are looking for something more cost effective without having to forgo a first-class location and comfort, we recommend the centrally situated Cartier Hotel, which is only a few minutes' walk from all major places of interest.

    Depart with your car hire from Saint-Malo via the D137 towards the south and follow the signs leading to the E401 motorway in the direction of Dinan. On this drive you will pass many scenic vistas and photo-worthy landscapes along the coast of the English Channel and its lovely villages. Those interested in historic architecture will be thrilled to visit the various chateaus, only a short drive away from the E401, such as Chateau de la Belliere and Chateau Dinan.

    Next stop: 31 minutes

    Day 2: Dinan

    Road trip Dinan, France Road trip Dinan, France

    What to do in Dinan:

    Despite its relatively small size, Dinan is a Mecca of medieval architecture and has a unique geographic location. The view from the hilltop over the Rance river make Dinan the perfect destination for nature lovers and city explorers alike. Many of the original medieval structures, partially dating to the 13th century, such as the original city wall, can be seen in nearly pristine condition within the town.

    You will discover a large number of churches and historically significant architecture, including late Gothic-style buildings such as St. Malo's Church, the Romanesque St. Saviour's Basilica and Duchess Anne's Tower, steeped in legend. The rich history of the town lends itself well to the yearly Fete des Remparts festival, during which the town is given a medieval makeover and the locals dress according to this time period as well.

    Where to eat in Dinan:

    Dinan is the right place to visit for enjoying local, home-made dishes. In larger cities, which you can easily reach with car hire from Dinan, it can be difficult to find these kinds of authentic meals. Dinan, on the other hand, is blessed with a plethora of peaceful restaurants. Noteworthy here is La Mère Pourcel, a half-timber house from the 15th century serving traditional French cuisine with a Brittany twist. You should also try Le Cantorbery, specialising in fish, which is cooked in a traditional medieval wood fire.

    There are relatively few opportunities for a long night out in Dinan, as you will not find a clubbing atmosphere here as you might in larger cities. There are, however, many small bars and lounges. On the whole, night life in Dinan is much more quiet and relaxed than in big cities.

    Where to stay in Dinan:

    Now that you have spent a whole day discovering Dinan's secrets and tasting some local delicacies, it is time to find a hotel. As can be expected Dinan has myriad bed and breakfast options. If you have decided to favour a hotel over a guesthouse, we recommend Residence MMV Duguesclin, where you can enjoy amenities such as an indoor pool, free WLAN, continental breakfast, satellite TV and a room with a fully-equipped kitchen unit.

    When you continue your road trip from Dinan, we recommend that you head in the eastern direction on the D794 that connects with the D137 and eventually takes you in the direction of Montauban on the D20. On your way you will be able to admire a number of castles. The beautiful Chateau de Caradeuc is located slightly outside of Montauban. Following this road you will be met with countless picture-worthy landscapes as well as small towns and villages offering delicious food, that make for a great place to stop for a snack.

    Next stop: 30 minutes

    Day 3: Montauban-de-Bretagne

    Road trip in Montauban-de-Bretagne, France Road trip in Montauban-de-Bretagne, France

    What to do in Montauban-de-Bretagne:

    Although it is often overlooked in favour of better-known destinations, Montauban-de-Bretagne is the perfect place to visit for travellers who wish to get to know the rich history and culture of the region without swarms of tourists. When you have driven your car hire to Montauban, you should visit the fortress, which is one of the oldest in Brittany and a pristine example of architecture from the Middle Ages. Another building of great historic importance is the Notre Dame de Lannelou chapel, situated just outside the town.

    For travellers who value exploring the natural beauty of the Brittany region, the Montauban Forest is the ideal choice. The area encompasses 580 hectares of natural reserve, which can be accessed via hiking routes or small roads. Spend the day hiking through the beautiful forest and pack the requisite utensils for a tasty picnic at one of the breathtaking viewpoints along the way.

    Where to eat in Montauban-de-Bretagne:

    The range of appetizing dining options in Montauban-de-Bretagne is similar to that in Saint-Malo and Dinan: a mix of hearty Bretagne cuisine, seafood and traditional French dishes. Even though the town's size might make you think otherwise, Montauban offers a plethora of local restaurants with lovely dining rooms, whose delightful atmosphere awaits you. The Michelin restaurant guide recommends Le Relais De La Rance, where you will find traditional cuisine with seafood, freshly caught fish, and hearty lobster soup.

    Just as in our other aforementioned destinations in Brittany, night life in Montauban is very quiet, but make note: if you are on the lookout for a more active clubbing scene, our next stop in Rennes is sure to get you excited and fulfil your wishes. Wine bars, after hours lounges and Irish pubs are on offer for you to relax in Montauban-de-Bretagne.

    Where to stay in Montauban-de-Bretagne:

    In contrast with many luxurious and expensive options in other destinations in Brittany, the hotels in Montauban are mostly quaint and rustic lodgings. But could anything be lovelier than being able to immerse yourself completely in French village life in one of the many bed and breakfasts or small hotels dotted around the town? Most of the hotels in Montauban-de-Bretagne are so-called in-house establishments run by families, offering a very cosy atmosphere. You will feel as if you had rented a holiday home with full service!

    When you continue your road trip from Montauban to Rennes, take the N12, which connects the E50 motorway with Rennes. Various smaller roads in the region will bring you to many oft forgotten castles and picturesque views, all of which you can reach via the E50. When you start to get close to Rennes, make a stop in Saint Gilles and visit its beautiful lagoon. Not only a great place to have a picnic, you will also be able to enjoy a unique vista of the lush countryside of the region.

    Next stop: 32 minutes

    Day 4: Rennes

    Road trip in Rennes, France Road trip in Rennes, France

    What to do in Rennes:

    You will now arrive in Rennes after the three-day trip, which has taken you from the coastline of Saint-Malo to historic Dinan and Montauban-de-Bretagne. As often mentioned in tourist guides, Rennes is definitely worth a visit and is one of the best places to end your road trip. Many historic points of interest call Rennes home, but perhaps the top attraction in the city is the peaceful Thabor estate. The compound is a massive park with an impressive collection of rare plants with more than 100 different kinds of roses, African and European trees and a multitude of local and foreign bird species.

    Rennes is surprisingly lively for a small city. The marketplace offering local products in the centre of the city is open every Saturday from 6am to 1.30pm. Nothing will allow you to immerse yourself in the French way of life better than visiting this market, as you will be able to enjoy the subtleties of French culture up close. A visit to the Rennes market is a must!

    Where to eat in Rennes:

    The restaurant scene in Rennes is very diverse, which should make it easy to find a place to eat that is suited to your particular culinary preferences. Like Saint-Malo, Rennes is also crazy about crepes. You can find a real cornucopia of culinary crepe creations at nearly every corner. There are, of course, also plenty of restaurants offering traditional French cooking, as well as varied ethnic restaurants offering mouthwatering dishes from Turkish kebabs to Mediterranean gyros. Wherever you decide to eat, you are sure to enjoy your meal.

    Rennes is known for its vibrant night life, and for good reason: the city is home to a large number of nightly attractions from clubs to other party hotspots including wine bars and beer halls. If you want to visit one of the most popular nightclubs, we would recommend L'Espace or Delikatessen. Both are known for their frenetic energy, good music and a large selection of cocktails. For a more relaxed evening, head to Couleur Café, a picturesque late night meeting place offering cocktails and over 2,000 other beverages.

    Where to stay in Rennes:

    After a long night of partying in Rennes, there is nothing you need more than a comfortable bed in an elegant hotel. Hotels located only a short walk away from all the bars and clubs in the centre of Rennes include Novotel Rennes, right in the heart of the city. A hotel restaurant, bar, WLAN, indoor swimming pool and full room service are among the amenities offered at this establishment. Another excellent hotel is Lecoq Gadby, an urban resort with a cosy atmosphere with full attention given to all the details.

    Whatever plans you have once you set off with your car hire from Rennes, the decision is yours. You could continue your road trip from Rennes and drive to Paris, the city of love. Or make the 60-mile drive to Nantes and enjoy the flair of this well-known city. You could also decide to undertake another one of our planned road trips in France and get to know the country better on your way to Nice, Bordeaux, or wherever else your heart takes you.

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