Emerald coast travel guide

Photo of Emerald coast

Visit Emerald coast (Brittany, France)

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The Emerald Coast is the name given to the stretch of coast between Cap Frehel in the west and almost to Mont-Saint-Michel in the east, in northern Brittany. The section of coast falls in two departments of Brittany: Ille-et-Vilaine and Cotes d'Armor

The coast takes its name from the colour of the sea in the region under certain conditions - an idea inspired by the success of the name "Cote d'Azur" in promoting tourism in Mediterranean France.

Exploring the Emerald Coast


When you visit the Emerald Coast you will discover some of France's most impressive coastline, with rocky headlands jutting into the sea and backed by a landscape of gorse and heather, numerous small beaches and villages, and several fascinating historical towns.


Start your exploration of the scenic highlights perhaps by visiting the headland at Cap Fréhel, which is among the most impressive scenic highlights in the region with its dramatic cliffs and a setting typical of the Emerald Coast, or at the Pointe du Grouin headland noth of Cancale.


There are several important towns and resorts to explore along this stretch of coast including (from west to east):

  • Saint-Cast-le-Guildo;
  • Dinard, a longstanding coastal town with much of interest to discover (see also Dinan a little way inland);
  • the historical port town of Saint Malo (the earliest important town to develop along this coastline, and with a fascinating 'old town' with numerous important buildings); 
  • the town of Cancale, based around a picturesque harbour well known for its oyster production.


The most popular seaside towns and resorts along the Emerald Coast include:

The beaches and facilites at Saint-Lunaire; the village and beaches at Saint-Briac; and the water sport facilities at Lancieux are among the particular highlights.


The broad sandy beaches at Erquy and Val-André are among the most popular, although many others are to be found in the coastal resorts and scattered between the more jagged stretches of coastline.

There are too many beaches to mention here individually, but be assured that wherever you stay on the 'Cote d'Emeraude' you will find a suitable beach nearby...

Saint Malo

Monuments and Architecture

From abandoned forts to prehistoric dolmens, from small chapels to grand manor houses and small fishing cottages, and from the grand 17th century houses of Saint-Malo to the 19th century villas so typical of towns such as Dinard, Saint-Briac and Saint-Lunaire, there are numerous architectural highlights to be enjoyed here.

Although slightly outside the Emerald Coast, no visit would be complete without also visiting the island and abbey at Mont-Saint-Michel, one of the most impressive (and popular) destinations in France.

General Information

Ease of access from both mainland France and from the UK mean that the coast here is rarely short of visitors during the summer months - as a result some of the beaches can become quite crowded, and parts of the coast have been rather overdeveloped with campsites etc.

If you are visiting for the scenery and historical towns and ports rather than for the beaches you might like to visit outside July-August.

Explore elsewhere in the Brittany coast. You can find more travel ideas in the Ille-et-Vilaine guide and the Brittany guide.

See also Find Emerald coast hotels

Photos of Emerald coast

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  • beach-mont-saint-michel
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  • cap-frehel
  • dinan
  • dinard-beach
  • mont-saint-michel-abbey
  • saint-malo

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We were pleased to discover that Saint-Malo, often considered a ferry port, is also an exceptional town to explore

Saint-Malo guide
Dinard Pointe du Moulinet

Dinard Pointe du Moulinet

The Pointe du Moulinet in Dinard is visited for the imposing neo-gothic villas and the impressive views

Dinard Pointe du Moulinet guide
Dinard Pointe de la Malouine

Dinard Pointe de la Malouine

The Pointe de la Malouine in Dinard is a promontory west of the town centre with several 19th century villas and a coast path

Dinard Pointe de la Malouine guide


Dinard, estblished as a fashionable resort in the 19th century, is still one of the nicest towns in Ille-et-Vilaine

Dinard guide


Saint-Lunaire is a small resort, established west of Dinard in the 19th century

Saint-Lunaire guide


Saint Suliac is a beautiful village on the estuary of the River Rance in Brittany.

Saint-Suliac guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Ille-et-Vilaine

Address: Emerald Coast, Brittany, France || GPS coordinates: latitude 48.6481, longitude -2.0075

Plan your visit to Emerald coast, Ille-et-Vilaine

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Saint-Malo: ville fleurie 4*
  • Embouchure - Rance: site of natural beauty (3 km)
  • Rance (fleuve): site of natural beauty (3 km)
  • Pointe de la Varde: site of natural beauty (4 km)
  • Dinard: town of art and history (4 km)
  • Cézembre: site of natural beauty (6 km)
  • Havre de Rothéneuf: site of natural beauty (6 km)
  • Îlots Notre-Dame et Chevret: site of natural beauty (6 km)
  • Île Besnard: site of natural beauty (6 km)
  • Jardins de Montmarin: remarkable garden (8 km)
  • Côte de Cancale à Paramé: site of natural beauty (9 km)
  • Île du Guesclin: site of natural beauty (10 km)

The French version of this page is at Emerald coast (Francais)