Just a short voyage from the UK's south coast, Brittany is a rich cruising ground offering numerous charming ports and harbours for those with limited cruising time

Sailing in Brittany means restaurants with wonderful seafood, crêpes, and gallettes, some lovely towns and squares, and close Celtic associations.

One of the favoured routes to Brittany is from Guernsey to either Lézardrieux or Tréguier; both handsome towns, passing the impressive Roches Douvres lighthouse on the way.

Both rivers have deepwater entrances, a rarity on this coast where the majority of marinas have sills or locks.

The Basse Crublent buoy off Tréguier can sometimes be a stretch too far if the belting tide turns against you as you close the coast, and Lézardrieux is more achievable.

A dove cote by a river in France

Arrive at Pontrieux at slack water for an easy berth. Credit: mauritius images/Alamy

The tides between Guernsey and Brittany run NW/SE and you get little lift on this passage since normally you are crossing them at right angles.

If you choose Lézardrieux you have the option of going upriver and locking into the charming little town of Pontrieux.

In both marinas the tide roars through the pontoons making berthing a challenge and it can pay to wait at anchor for it to slacken off.

Brehat is lovely with an anchorage to the south off La Chambre but it is difficult to get out of the tide and the big ranges require more scope and swinging room.

Sailing in Brittany gives you a chance to sample crepes, one of the many gastronomic delights. Credit: Karl Denham/Alamy

Sailing in Brittany gives you a chance to sample crepes, one of the many gastronomic delights. Credit: Karl Denham/Alamy

There is a sheltered passage to Paimpol which is another delightful town with vast drying shoals but a well buoyed channel with adequate depth near high water.

The Brittany coast is rocky with off-lying hazards, but these are usually well marked.

There is an extensive reef between the entrances to Lézardrieux and Tréguier as well as Les Haux de Brehat and close attention to pilotage is essential, especially if you plan to use the short cuts.

Ploumanac’h, on the Côte de la Granite Rose, has beautiful pink boulders making for a spectacular entrance.

A chart showing the ports to sail to in Brittany

Credit: Maxine Heath

You need adequate rise of tide to clear the sill and enter the lagoon. Les Sept Îles archipelago are a bird reserve, with a vast gannetry.

The islands have an exclusion zone apart from two anchorages south of Île Bono, which require calm and settled weather.

Landing is only permitted on the Île aux Moines. The Lannion River – beware the bar at the entrance – has an anchorage off Le Yaudet. Locally owned buoys may be an issue.

You can dinghy up to town.

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Morlaix is spectacular with its huge viaduct, and a daunting approach.

The most direct line of approach is the Grand Chenal, narrow but deep, or take the Chenal de Tréguier.

Either way you need a full tide to carry you up to the town and any deviation from the transits near the locks will put you aground in deep mud.

A viaduct over a river which can be seen sailing in Brittany

Morlaix has a spectacular viaduct. Credit: John Bentley/Alamy

The Île de Batz just to the NW of Roscoff is otherworldly, agricultural and rural.

The tide gallops between the island and the mainland and close attention to the marks is essential.

L’Aber Wrac’h has deepwater approaches with well-marked short cuts.

Pink granite coastline of France

Côte de la Granite Rose is spectacular, but wait for the tide to clear the sill into Ploumanac’h. Credit: Hemis/Alamy

From the east the Passe de la Malouine runs north/south just west of the Île de Vierge lighthouse, this useful, daylight-only short cut saves going on to the Libenter Buoy.

An alternative for a Brittany departure would be to go from Salcombe straight to Roscoff, and then cruise eastabout and back via Guernsey.

For full details on the procedures for sailing to and from France from the UK. Click here

Sailing in Brittany

Time taken: 3 weeks

Yarmouth to Braye – 66M
Portland to Braye – 54M
Braye to St Peter Port – 22M
Salcombe to St Peter Port, southabout – 72M
Salcombe to Roscoff – 90M
Dartmouth to Roscoff – 98M
St Peter Port to Lezardrieux – 46M
St Peter Port to the Bas Creublent Buoy – 43M + 8.5M up the river

Trains: from Morlaix
Ferries: Roscoff to Plymouth
Airports: Dinard, Rennes, Nantes, Quimper

Hazards while sailing in Brittany

Roches-Douvres Plateau,  Les Haux de Brehat

Tidal Data: The French calculate their tides using coefficients. On a very low coefficient there can be occasions when they don’t open lock gates at all. Perros-Guirec is an example of this.