Other than Malestroit itself (see Location), the places that follow are all close to La Roche, mostly less than half an hour away and all reachable within the hour.
Vannes: typically charming French medieval town. Picturesque ramparts, cathedral and half timbered houses. Good shopping and sights. Situated on the Golfe du Morbihan. Lots of good creperies. Grab a drink (at least) in one of the cafes around the quay then walk down the river towards the Golfe.
Rochefort-en-terre: utterly delightful “ville fleurie”. Very busy in the summer. Good, specialist shops and nice bars, creperies and restaurants. Not to be missed. The Musee de la Resistance Bretonne: at St Marcel, just outside Malestroit. A large site with reconstructions of wartime streets, garages and an American camp, complete with audio-visual effects, models and arms. Popular with our guests, especially those with children. Somewhat old-fashioned.
La Gacilly: charming village with its “circuit des artisans”, 30 craftsmen/women and artists. Good for unusual presents. Home to Yves Rocher (factory tour available). Also worth a visit are the Vegetarium and the Jardin Botanique. Not to be missed.
Josselin: famous for its much admired chateau built on the side of the river Oust. Nice town centre, full of character with good bars (for sitting in the sun). Interesting marked walk around the town; start down by the river with the ‘barking women’ audio and then follow the stream through the town. Monteneuf. One of the many local places where you can visit megaliths…but much nearer than the better known places like Carnac. Very interesting visit. Expert on site who’s only too happy to tell you about the site. Contains menhirs and dolmens but also a reproduction of a neolithic village. There are also 5/6 marked walks from the site.
Le Lac au Duc: the largest natural lake in Brittany, with a couple of safe beaches for swimming (near Ploermel). With a water sports centre and fishing facilities. Also very good for walks; this includes a fitness circuit where you can stop periodically and try out some outdoor equipment and a 3km hydrangea trail around the lake. There’s a 9 hole golf course next door.
La Foret de Broceliande: this is an enchanting forest (literally) linked to local legends about Merlin. The centre of the forest is the pretty, small town of Paimpont where you can buy trashy mementoes of the sorcerer! The town is set by the side of a lake and very nice too. What remains of the forest is small but worth driving around; there are a number of other lakes also and plenty of good walks in the area.
Rennes: lively and bustling city, if you fancy somewhere bigger with even more shops than Vannes. A really nice place. A typical university town with a youngish atmosphere. Filled with restaurants; most of which look great. Described by Michelin as a “city of artistic and historical interest where good food is highly valued”. Well worth the trip.
Slightly further away is Nantes, which we now like even more and is highly recommended for a day trip. Redon is nearer and smaller but also well worth visiting. Pleasant small town perched on either side of the river Vilaine. Lots of elegant houses. Especially good clothes shops (according to my wife). Auray is delightful especially in the restaurants and cafes down by the quai.
The Domaine de Kerguehennec, near to Locmine: picturesque estate with chateau, wooded park and lake. Very good for walks and picnics. Contains arboretum with over 30 sculptures. Chateau usually has several art exhibitions. Free entry to park and chateau.