La Roche Bernard

Introduction to La Roche-Bernard

Pleasure porrt at La Roche BernardLa Roche-Bernard is a small town in Southern Brittany. It is a very interesting place to visit for many reasons. The town is situated on the River Vilaine, and plays host to a myriad of small boats in its natural harbour. Two superb bridges span the river here, along with the remains of an old bridge which was destroyed during the second world war. There are a number of interesting shops and good restaurants, including a Michelin-starred establishment, as well as the small port and old quarter to explore.


There are many differing accounts of the early history of the town. Most popular is the belief that the area was originally settled by Normans around 919. Their chief ‘Bernard’ considered the prominant rock (‘Roche’) overlooking the river to offer a good strategic position in what was then a very unsettled Brittany.

The priests of La Roche-Bernard were persecuted during the French Revolution in the 19th Century, resulting in an attack on the town by country folk from the surrounding areas, and subsequent repraisals (including the introduction of the guillotine) by the Revolutionary Tribunal. Peace returned to the town in 1802.

During the 2nd World War, La Roche-Bernard was occupied by the German forces. After the Normandy landings, the Allied forces attacked the town from the air. Then, following the destruction of the bridge over the river during a violent storm, the town found itself on the front line, with the German forces in retreat on one side of the river, defending the ‘St Nazaire Pocket’ and the french forces on the other.

Eating Out around La Roche-Bernard

Breton specialitiesLa Roche-Bernard is a superb place to visit if you like to dine out. The town describes itself as a Ville Gastronomique, priding itself on the quality of its restaurants and locally sold produce. Here is a selection of what is on offer……..

The grill restaurant on the bridge offers very good quality food at reasonable prices, plus it has superb views over the town and river.

Les Deux Magots, a high quality restaurant situated in the Old Quarter.

La Couronne (An Kurannan) – small restaurant offering high quality traditional french cuisine, at the top end of the main street in La Roche-Bernard. Wonderful desserts!

Since we wrote this post La Couronne has unfortunately closed down [2013]

Creperie Gatin – superb galettes and crepes in an oak-beamed restaurant with large open fire in the Old Quarter of the town.

Madame Gatin has now retired, and the Creperie has been passed on to a new owner. Whilst they still make nice crepes, we don’t think they are quite as good as before! [2013]

For a truly gastronomic experience, why not try L’Auberge Bretonne de Jacques Thorel? This is a restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef, and requires deep pockets (or a very special occasion) with menu prices starting at over 100 euros. It does have a very very good reputation, though.

Other Interests

La Villaine at La Roche BernardThe local market operates on Thursday mornings until lunchtime. It is a vibrant place, especially during the Summer months, with local and regional producers competing to sell their wares.

Bee Keeping and Honey – there is a small exhibition of bee-keeping, where you can also purchase some interesting bee/honey products, as you walk down to the port from the old quarter.

Boat trips – ‘Les Vedettes Jaunes’ run pleasure trips between La Roche-Bernard and the barrage at Arzal in the Spring and Summer months. This is very relaxing – just sit back and enjoy the scenery for an hour or so. You can also take dinner on board if you like. Booking recommended!

Canoes can be hired from the activity centre next to the campsite ‘Le Patis’ down by the main port. Tuition may also be arranged. Booking is recommended.

Swimming – there is a public swimming pool in the town. Check locally for opening times.

La Roche Bernard Videos

Here are a couple of videos produced by Tourisme Arc Sud Bretagne


  1. The prettiest fishing village in Brittany / Pays de la Loire? | La Roche Bernard – Brittany – France - March 15, 2010

    […] that sits on the River Vilaine in Southern Brittany between the barrage at Arzal and P

  2. Golf in Western France | Brittany and Pays de la Loire - France - August 6, 2010

    […] International golf course at La Baule, which is less than 30 minutes from La Roche Bernard, is set amongst chestnut and oak woods. It offers two attractive and fairly challenging 18-hole […]

  3. Local Activities | Brittany and Pays de la Loire - France - August 6, 2010

    […] Baule is thirty minutes from La Roche Bernard and, with its nine kilometers of fine sand, is the longest, and some say most beautiful beach in […]

  4. Le Foleux, Brittany – a pretty port on the River Vilaine | Brittany and Pays de la Loire - France - August 12, 2010

    […] wasn’t a big effort for us, as Le Foleux is only about 15 minutes from our house near La Roche Bernard, but we hadn’t visited before and thought that we should – as it was so […]

  5. Breton Oysters - why do they taste so good? - June 7, 2012

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