Brehan is well situated for day visits to the seaside on the north and south coasts. The enchanting inland sea, the Gulf of Morbihan, is just 45 minutes away, while the celebrated Emerald Coast takes about 90 minutes on departmental main roads and toll free dual carriageways. Even in the holiday season, traffic is generally blissfully light.
The Abbey was settled on 22nd July 1841, by two monks and a lay brother, who left La Trappe Abbey in Orne and settled in Brehan in the diocese of Vannes, and there it still stands.
You can visit to enjoy the tranquility of the space, or to purchase cheese or jellies made by the monks, to suport the community.
Nantes to Brest Canal
The Nantes to Brest canal is the backbone of the network of waterways linking Nantes, Lorient and Dinan by boat, and Brest too, if you are cycling or walking. And it’s a gift for the lazy cyclist with mile after mile of flat, well maintained canal-side tracks and pathways passing through the Breton heartlands of rolling farmland and unspoilt country towns and villages. In places it’s so quiet, you might believe you have travelled back in time.
Lac au Duc
Explore the beautiful Lac au Duc 20 minutes away at Ploërmel, with its bathing beach, children’s pool and Nautical Centrefor sailing, water skiing and wind surfing. Attractive walks, picnic sites and a golf course border the lake. Nearby Guillac has an excellent karting centre.
Historic Traditional Towns
Josselin, with its imposing medieval fortress and stunning ducal residence restored during the latter part of the 19th century, is unquestionably the finest in Brittany. Still the family seat of the dukes of Rohan after 1000 years, its doll and toy museum in the old stables of the castle is the most important private collection in France, with enchanting annual exhibitions developed around a chosen theme.
The Basilica traces its history back to the 9th century, though much of the current building dates from the 14th and 15th centuries. It contains some late 15th stained glass and houses the celebrated tomb of the one of Brittany’s most famous sons, Olivier de Clisson, the 14th century warrior lord, who rose to be Constable of France, the Commander in Chief of the king’s armies. The tomb is a fine example of mediaeval craftsmanship and was modelled on that Charles V in St. Denis. Desecrated during the revolution, it is only partially restored, but nonetheless remarkable. Josselin’s wealth of half-timbered houses attests its historic prosperity as a provincial town and you can trace its history through an intriguing tourist trail. It is a must for visitors, particularly for its Saturday market and its family run restaurants.
A few miles to the east, at the Halfway Oak, you will find the memorial to the celebrated Bataille des Trente, fought in 1351 . Little known outside Brittany, this desperate, hand-to-hand struggle between 30 Anglo-Breton and 30 Franco-Breton warrior knights represents the height of the chivalric tradition. Pre-arranged by the warring factions in order to settle local differences, it took place during the 22 year Breton civil war, a proxy-conflict for the French and English kings during the 100 year’s war. Weakened by division and squabbles, the civil war sowed the seeds of Brittany’s downfall and secession to France in 1532—a loss of independence still regretted by some...
La Gacilly , (home of natural cosmetics and skincare company Yves Rocher), is a 40 minute drive and hosts the world-renowned annual summer photographic exhibition, using the walls of the town as its open air gallery. Nearby Kerguennec is an attractive Chateau in a lakeside setting with an outstanding sculpture park and art gallery. And as you travel around, during the summer months, you will find that many of Brittany’s charming wayside chapels open to host exhibitions of contemporary art.
Vannes, another lively, mediaeval town is only 45 minutes away. Still an important marine centre, the former fishing port has been transformed into a busy marina. Vannes is the gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan and was once the capital of the Venetes tribe, defeated by the Romans in a famous sea battle at the mouth of the Gulf in 56 BC. Today, you can explore its myriad pattern of islands by pleasure cruiser, or, if you are a sailor, you can hire a boat.
Rennes, the administrative capital of Brittany and the nearest airport, is around 50 minutes away by car. A lively university town, it too has a mediaeval heart, a magnificent cathedral, a theatre, concert hall, museums and a fine art gallery, and it’s a dream for gourmets and shopaholics.
Pontivy, 25 minutes to the northwest, was the crossroads of the western side of the canal network. The town is a unique blend of the higgledy-piggledy mediaeval and the early 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte having developed the southern sector on a grid plan—a first in France. Unlike much of Brittany, it supported the revolution and later even changed its name to Napoleonville. Another stunning castle, formerly a property of the Dukes of Rohan, guards the once strategically important river crossing, and nowadays hosts excellent art and sculpture exhibitions
En route for Pontivy, you can discover the Abbaye de Timadeuc just ten minutes up the road at Bréhan, a Cistercian abbey where the monks make excellent walnut oil infused cheese, as well as fruit pastilles.
Loudeac: market Saturday (14km)
Josselin: market Saturday (15km)
Pontivy: market Monday all day (21km)
Locmine: market Thursday (23km)
Ploermel: market Friday (26km)
Mauron: market Friday (30km)
Ploeuc-sur-Lie: market Thursday (32km)
Baud: market Saturday (32km)
Malestroit: market Thursday (36km)
Elven: market Friday (37km)