Roscoff is a charming, small Breton fishing village that provides the perfect gateway to the delights of Brittany. The seaside town is clustered around a small bay, with 16th-century granite houses, little shops, and bars and restaurants, hugging the shoreline. The old harbour is the best place to while away the hours while enjoying a drink with sea views, or alternatively you can take a boat trip from here to the Ile de Batz (pronounced Ba).
The town's tourist attractions include its tropical gardens, an aquarium, a beautiful church, and a stunning coastline. Brittany's sea is also renowned for its healing properties, and one of the region's oldest thalassotherapy centres was opened in Roscoff in 1899 and is definitely worth visiting for a pampering treat.
The deep-water port at Roscoff was opened in 1973, but its harbour has been an important arrival point through the ages. Mary Queen of Scots landed here in 1548 on her way to Paris to be engaged to François, the son and heir of Henri II, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, arrived here in 1746 after his defeat at Culloden.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream the town benefits from a mild climate, and it is also shielded by the Ile de Batz, making it a perfect holiday destination all year round.
Museum of the 'Onion Johnnies'
Britain's stereotypical image of Frenchmen wearing stripy t-shirts and carrying onions on wobbly bikes, began after visits to England by the menfolk of Roscoff. Henri Olivier first took onions from Roscoff to England in 1828 and until the 1930s 'Johnnies' would load up their boats with local produce and sail to England, where they delivered their goods to local markets on their bicycles. They used to carry up to 100 kilos, hence the wobbles, and some Johnnies would travel as far as Cornwall and Scotland for work. The Museum has recently opened to celebrate this lovely tradition.
An excellent way to begin or end a holiday is to try a half-day "taster" course at the century-old Thalassotherapy Institute, costing around €79. Treatments include seawater and seaweed therapies, to stimulate healing and relaxation.
This extraordinary garden boasts over 3,000 species of tropical plants, from all over the world, including South Africa, Chile and Australia. It has spectacular rockeries, and it is worth climbing up the highest 18-metre high rock, to get a superb view of the bay of Morlaix, Roscoff, Carantec and the Château du Taureau.
Notre Dame de Croatz Batz
This beautifully restored church dominates the town's skyline and is a fantastic example of 16th century gothic architecture. Its rows of bells resemble a tiered cake.
Ile de Batz
A 15-minute boat trip from the harbour will take you to the charming and car-free Ile de Batz, with its impressive lighthouse and lovely gardens, giving you a great view of the mainland.
Eating and Drinking
In Roscoff, you can savour delicious French cuisine, in particular seafood such as nutty-flavoured mussels, and traditional Breton crepes. Around the old port you'll find many charming places to eat.
Our top Roscoff dining tips include the Michelin-starred Temps de Vivre, a fantastic restaurant housed in a beautiful 16th century building. Its chef is one of the most celebrated in Brittany and creates special dishes such as cabbage stuffed with crab and prawns. L'Ecume des Jours is situated in the centre of the old port, opposite the sea, near the townhouse. Its decor is charming and rustic, reflecting the history of the old Breton house and their prices are very reasonable. Le Surcouf, situated between the church and the fishing port, is also popular and specialises in meat and fish dishes.