Beautiful and undulating Brittany is full of long sandy beaches, sandy coves and dramatic rock formations. An abundance of footpaths, beaches, cobbled streets and quaint medieval villages bedecked with flowers are waiting to be explored. It has a remarkable number of village fetes as well as regional and international festivals. It is a Celtic nation with many things in common with the Irish, Welsh and Scottish – such as the Celtic language, kilts and bagpipes to name but a few.
Things to do in Brittany
Explore its coastline and ports – one of the most famous is the walled city of Concarneau – another is La Trinity sur Mer which is full of sailing boats and a wealth of little restaurants lining the port serving the ‘catch of the day’. A wide variety of water sports are catered for in each resort – in particular sailing and on a few beaches sand carting. The standing stones (megaliths) of Carnac are well worth visiting – not as large as Stonehenge but there are a vast number as well as some of the burial chambers. The towns of Dinan, Josselin and Vannes are full of ancient buildings and a fortress, and a delightful little ancient village that is a ‘must’ to visit is Auray.
The Breton Crepes (pancakes) both sweet and savoury are a speciality of the region so a visit to a creperie is ‘obligatoire’. This is a maritime region so not surprisingly seafood, especially shellfish is found in abundance here. Menus in the small bistros or restaurants include some of the local traditional dishes – they normally appear as a ‘plat du jour’ or ‘plat Terroir’ and these highlight locally sourced ingredients. This region is not so much known for its wine, as for its Cider. We have been told that Le Sistrot is a must for all cider lovers to visit when in Quimper. There are many different vintages to try including cidre de glace (ice cider) and cidre de feu (fire cider) from Québec, where the bar’s founders spent a few years.
A visit to one of the many festivals – the Fete des Filets Bleus (blue fishing nets) is held in Concarneau in August (check date locally). A typically Breton flavoured costumed parade full of tradition and music and of course bagpipes. On Bastille day – the 14th July it is a national holiday and a day when the evening sky will be filled with fireworks and dancing in the streets. Head for the nearest port, beach or town centre (check locally where the best of the action will be). Visit a market in a nearby town and you will usually be able to see people in traditional dress and each village and commune will have their own lace headdress.
Getting to Brittany
Sail with Brittany Ferries from Plymouth to Roscoff, Portsmouth to St. Malo, Cherbourg or Caen, or Poole to Cherbourg. These crossings will minimise your mileage in France. Alternatively, if you live within easy reach of Dover or Folkestone you might prefer to sail to Calais.