Saint-Brieuc, Cotes-d'Armor tourism & sightseeing
Visit Saint-Brieuc (Brittany, France)Photo Gallery
Saint-Brieuc is an important town in north-eastern Brittany in the Cotes d'Armor department.
France This Way comment: although the historic centre of Saint-Brieuc is not very large and there is substantial more recent development, the cathedral is interesting and the cluster of medieval houses is very attractive so a visit is worthwhile if you are nearby
The Saint-Brieuc tourist office is on Rue des Lycéens and a good place to start a visit: they propose guides for three different walks to follow in the town ('the old town', 'the art deco walk' and the 'viewing points of the upper town walk'), which each take about 1hr - 1hr 30 to complete.
Your main visit will focus in the centre of the town where the main things of interest are the cathedral and the half-timbered medieval houses in the streets nearby, and several manor houses.
The 15th century cathedral of Saint Etienne is in th gothic style and impressively fortified. The main entrance has sturdy 100 feet high towers either side with slits that allowed weapons to be fired from them - quite a feat given that the cathedral was originally built on wooden supports to stop it sinking into the marshes that were here at the time.
Inside the cathedral there is also some very attractive decoration, such as the 18th century altarpiece, stained glass windows and an imposing organ by Cavaillé-Coll.
The market buildings in Place du Martray are built of iron and in a style that was used in many towns in France at the time of Gustave Eiffel. There are several cafes in the square around the market.
Close to the cathedral, the Bellescize Pavilion is an imposing but rather austere house on the Place des Droits de l'Homme: during work hours only you can go inside to see the monolithic staircase
The medieval quarter of Saint-Brieuc, next to the cathedral, is the most picturesque part of the town and the highlight of your visit to Saint-Brieuc. It is focussed around Place au Lin, Place Louis Guilloux and Rue Fardel, and contains some attractive ancient half-timbered houses. Several of the houses have carved wooden statues and other interesting features on their facades.
The most interesting medieval buildings are perhaps the 'Hotel of the Dukes of Brittany' on Place Louis Guilloux, built in the 16th century and with ornate decoration, and the Maison du Ribeault on Place au Lin, said to be the oldest house in Saint-Brieuc, although it is the ensemble seen together that is the most impressive sight.
Other buildings we found architecturally interesting in Saint-Brieuc include the 15th century Quicangrogne Manor and the imposing 19th century Town Hall, both in the Place du General de Gaulle and the 19th century Caisse d'Epargne building.
If you follow the rue Notre-Dame north from the Maison de Ribeault, on rue Ruffelet you reach a pretty fountain that dates from the 15th century and the Chapel Notre-Dame-de-la-Fontaine. The chapel features an altar with effigies of the seven saints that founded Brittany, and is built on the site of a 5th century oratory, erected by Brieuc when he arrived here in 485.
Other religous monuments include the Church Saint-Michel (on the place of the same name) with its square towers and classical style entrance, and the basilica Notre Dame d'Esperance on Place Saint-Pierre and with a green copper roof.
Saint-Brieuc also has an ever-bustling pedestrianised shopping centre with a very wide range of shops and other commerces, and lots of outdoor cafes in the squares and streets where you can watch the world pass by and where buskers perform in the summer.
When shopping becomes too much, set off for one of the parcs that help the town qualify as a 'town in bloom' - perhaps the parc des promenades, a haven of peace in the town with shady trees and various statues to enjoy. A little outside the town centre the park around the Villa Rohannec'h is also pleasant to explore, with the imposing villa as an impressive backdrop.
The Museum of Art and History in Saint-Brieuc (next to the tourist office) has numerous objects explaining the history of the town and industry in the surrounding region, largely related to maritime, agricultural and local industry activities - see particularly the lovely models of historical ships.
Art Deco at Saint-Brieuc
If you have time after exploring the historic centre of Saint-Brieuc, the tour of the Art Deco sights using the map from the tourist office will be of interest to architecture enthusiasts.
You can see several buildings that incorporate mosaics and styles from the start of the 20th century, and concrete buildings such as the lycée from the time that Art Deco was fashionable, although these are rather spread out through the town centre.
The highlight is the Saint-Yves chapel, about two kilometres from the town centre. The chapel has beautiful stained-glass windows, colourful walls and mosaics by Odorico, as well as a fresco in the crypt by an artist of the epoch called Xavier de Langlais and you can also visit the adjacent cloister and gardens.
Saint-Brieuc is only about three kilometres from the coast, and here there are lovely views along the coast in both directions as well as a nature reserve, coastal walks, a bird sanctuary and an information centre. On the way here you can also take a stroll around the port for Saint-Brieuc at Légué, which has some pretty and colourful houses even if it is also rather overshadowed by a large concrete bridge.
Note: you can take a scenic path from Brieuc town centre to the Port de Légué along the valley of the Gouédic river
From the hill with the arboretum of Roches-Douves there is a view across the countryside to the port of Saint-Brieuc, and the viewpoint at the Pointe du Roselier has impressive coastal views and is a good place for a walk and a picnic.
One of the closest resorts to here is Le Val-André, about 12 kilometres to the north east.
Map of Saint-Brieuc and places nearby
Visit near Saint-Brieuc with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Cotes-d'Armor
Address: Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, 22000, France || GPS: latitude 48.5136, longitude -2.76528
Plan your visit to Saint-Brieuc, Cotes-d'Armor
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Zooparc de Trégomeur: zoo or wildlife park (12 km)
- Jardin du Colombier: remarkable garden (16 km)
- Quintin: ville fleurie 4* (16 km)
- Baie de Saint-Brieuc: site of natural beauty (17 km)
- Îlot du Verdelet: site of natural beauty (18 km)
- Cap d'Erquy / Cap Frehel: grand site of france (26 km)
- Le Grand-Pourier: site of natural beauty (27 km)
- Source - Rance: site of natural beauty (29 km)
- Saint-Gilles-Vieux-Marche: ville fleurie 4* (34 km)
- Beauport Abbey: grand site of france (34 km)
- Abbaye de Beauport: site of natural beauty (34 km)
- Pontrieux: ville fleurie 4* (36 km)
Market days in Saint-Brieuc, France
Regular market(s) are held in Saint-Brieuc each Wednesday & Sunday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Saint-Brieuc (Francais)