Brittany Steam Railway Holiday
We take a late morning Eurostar to Paris and cross to Montparnasse for the direct TGV service to Rennes. From the station it’s a very short stroll to our hotel.
Our first full day starts with a drive to Chateaubriant where there’s time to visit the famous Chateau before taking a tram/train to Nantes. After lunch (included) it’s an hour down the road to Mortagne sur Sevre for a railway highlight – courtesy of the Chemin de Fer du Vendee. This is a fantastic trip of pure rustic pleasure as we chug through rolling countryside, across towering viaducts, and pass by traditional farms and villages. Our return to Rennes is by way of the direct rail route from Nantes.
A relaxed day touring the most picturesque and historic towns in Northern Brittany beckons. We kick off in Dinan with a visit to the Dinan Railway Museum where models and memorabilia abound. Time now to wander the medieval streets, gardens and walls of this pretty place and to take lunchtime refreshments. In the afternoon we journey north to St Malo – this iconic town was painstakingly reconstructed after WWII. Window shop, visit the beach or walk the town walls circuit before a late afternoon train back to Rennes.
Away to the south coast today as we travel by rail to Quiberon along a branch line with the sea on both sides. Next we visit Carnac to marvel at the megalithic alignments – this is the French equivalent of Stonehenge and every bit as awesome. In the afternoon we find ourselves in the beautiful town of Vannes – an amazing place. We first take a “dotto” trip to learn the history and the layout before setting down for independent explorations. Half-timbered houses and shops, medieval ramparts and archways, tranquil gardens and a yacht filled marina provide picture postcard settings. Late afternoon we set off back to Rennes reflecting on a relaxing day out.
A coastal combination of steam, luverley steam, river and island scenery, and maybe even some cider. With a morning coffee stop en route we drive to the Pointe de l’Arcouest. Here we board a pleasure boat for the gentle circular cruise around the picturesque Ile de Brehat, famed for its flowers. Afterwards we call in at Paimpol’s quaint marina on our way to the village of Pontrieux where we join the Chemin de Fer du La Vapeur du Trieux for an afternoon of steam. This is a splendid journey as it follows the winding River Trieux up to the northern terminus at Paimpol. We complete the rest of the branch line later by SNCF to Guingamp where we connect into an express train for the direct service to Rennes – splendid!
We’re off to the high seas today. An early start before taking the ferry from St Malo to Jersey ensures that we make the most of the time available. We see the sights with an island tour amid the leafy lanes and scenic seascapes of this enchanting place. We find railway interest, and even a ride, at the fascinating Steam, Motor & General Museum and learn social history at the awesome Jersey War Tunnels. An early evening meal on the island is included before we board the Condor Ferry for the overnight sailing to Portsmouth. We will be accommodated in outside cabins and there are loads of facilities on board.
We awake back on home soil as we dock in Portsmouth Harbour with the railway station right outside from where homeward bound journeys commence.
Mercure Gare Central, Rennes