By Paul Wojnicki

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect beach anywhere in Europe as we lay on the pristine white sand watching our children and Jack Russell terrier splashing around in the shallow blue waters of the Glenan Islands. It genuinely feels as though the boat just dropped us off in Tahiti instead of a tiny speck of sand off the French Atlantic coast.

Only when I dip my toes in the frigid but perfectly clear waters am I reminded that we are only a couple of hundred miles further south than Brighton. Still that doesn’t stop the kids splashing around in them, or Falco perfecting his doggy paddle.

The Glenan Islands of Brittany are probably the highlight of our nine day exploration of Brittany, but it’s a close run thing. We actually began our tour in Normandy’s Mont St Michel, the second most visited attraction in France, which was just a thirty minute drive from our campsite in Brittany. Even from several miles away the Mont was an arresting sight, floating like a mirage on the grasslands as we approached. Seen up close however it was nothing short of spectacular, with its magnificent Gothic abbey perched on a pile of medieval buildings on its rocky outcrop- that occasionally becomes an island.

The Mont is such a dramatic place that the children had to eventually beg me to leave. They enjoyed the atmospheric trip of course but not quite as much as they enjoyed being on our campsite back in Brittany. And that’s understandable as France is the undeniable capital of European camping holidays with a cornucopia of different sized sites from the huge mega-camp that we spent the first four nights of our holiday to the smaller- relatively speaking- where we spent our last five nights.

Veterans of French campsites won’t need this explaining but for the uninitiated it’s important not to confuse the word “campsite” with a secluded field packed with a row of tents slowly sinking into the mud. Our first park, Domaine des Ormes, for instance was a massive complex spread over 600 acres, with its own châteaux, golf course, three waterparks, water-skiing lake, fishing lake, horse riding stables, zip line courses and over 700 caravan plots. It was essentially a small town with enough activities to keep even the most active families happy. But despite all these facilities we were only ever a few moments’ walk from complete seclusion and nature. I was surprised to find the park teeming with rare red squirrels and bird life. It was also within a short drive of numerous medieval towns and villages. For starters there was the aforementioned Mont but also Dinan and nearby St Malo, a walled town with some of the most stunning beaches on the north cost of France.

With so much to see and do on and off site it seemed a shame to move on from Domain des Ormes but after a two hour -and delightfully toll free- drive we were very excited to find ourselves at Camping La Grande Métairie, which is situated smack bang in the middle of the largest collection of Neolithic stones in the world. Think Stonehenge but with over 3,000 standing stones in continuous rows for around four kilometres. But while the region is pre-historic Camping La Grande Métairie certainly isn’t. For a quiet site La Grande Métairie is still impressive, with a huge outdoor pool complex, two indoor pools, mini farm, high ropes, skate-park, tennis courts and entertainment facilities.

From this base we were also able to explore more of Brittany’s gems, this time on the Atlantic coast. First stop was a trip to nearby Carnac passing field after field of standing stones until we reached the town’s beaches and then the Quiberon peninsula which had a remote end-of-the-earth feel similar to Lands’ End in the UK. The savage northern coast of the peninsula was wild with large waves, dramatic cliffs and surf schools aplenty. The southern coast had sheltered coves and beaches, perfect for paddling in with the children.

The following day we headed south from our campsite where we found one of the most beautiful bays in Europe; the Gulf of Morbihan which has around 42 islands, depending on the tide. Many of these stunning islands are privately owned, but two of the largest are easily accessible by a regular ferry service. And because the bay is sheltered from the open Atlantic the waters here were calm and relatively warm. The islands have a Mediterranean feel but with no crowds and a remarkably laid back atmosphere where traffic is almost non-existent.

It was a wonderful day trip- complete with more standing stones on the island- and we just about convinced ourselves that it was the most beautiful Island in all of France, until that is we rounded our tour off with this afternoon’s voyage to the Glenan Islands.


Canvas Holidays have more than a dozen camps in Brittany and offer a range of accommodations on all of them, from Maxi tents to luxury lodges. We stayed in a two bedroom dog friendly “Relax Mobile Home” that slept six people and included a gas powered barbecue and covered veranda. A four night stay in the May half term holidays cost £273 at the time of booking while three night stays in June can be found for £108. Entrance to all pools was included while other activities were reasonably priced. To book call 0345 268 0827 or visit

Brittany Ferries has a variety of sailing options from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. All of their ferries allow dogs in board. Some services run overnight (Portsmouth-St Malo for example) while others take just three hours (Portsmouth-Cherbourg). We travelled outbound to Cherbourg because it was better for our dog. We returned from Roscoff to Plymouth, taking just over five hours. This ferry has onboard kennels and feels similar to a cruise ship with onboard cabins, swimming pool and an excellent restaurant. For bookings and help call 0330 159 7000.

The Glenan Islands can be reached from Benodet with from 36 Euros. In July and August the company also run a glass bottom boat around the islands.