Discover the beautiful region of Brittany in northern France

Discover the beautiful region of Brittany in northern France

Brittany is a fascinating blend of amazing coastline, historic towns and spectacular countryside. It is renowned for being the home of seafood cuisine and accounts for 80% of France’s shellfish industry. The area is rugged, breathtaking and one of the most beautiful regions in France.

Coast

If you’re looking for coastal hotspots to walk, there are several ones you shouldn’t miss. Along the north coast you have Saint-Malo, which is a lovely walled city on the estuary of the Rance River and the Ponte de Primel which is a rocky outcropping close to Plougasnou.

Saint-Malo

On the west coast you can visit the westernmost point of France at the Ponte de Corsen. Slightly further south you will find the beautiful Crozon Peninsula which is a part of the Armorique Natural Park, and further south still are the high cliffs and stunning views of the Pointe du Raz which has become a popular tourist destination, on a par with Land’s End.

On the south coast you can make your way to the picturesque Odet estuary near Bénodet, or the Natural Park surrounding the Golfe du Morbihan. Along the Atlantic coast you will be treated not only to dramatic scenery but also to a wealth of historic relics dotted along the coastline.

Part of the Golfe du Morbihan

History

The Bretons are hugely proud of their heritage and enjoy celebrating their culture through a number of festivals each year. During summer especially an abundance of unique and well established festivals take place in Brittany; from music, dance and folk to food festivals and religious processions. They are all traditional and colourful and play a major role in Breton culture.

Brittany has an interesting story; during the Middle Ages a two-wave migration took place by Britons into the area previously named by the Romans as Armorica. The influx of people from Britain was how Brittany came to be named what it was. The first wave saw Roman forces from Britannia settle there, while the second wave happened around the 5th century when inhabitants from the south-west of Britain fled the invading Anglo-Saxons. As a result, Brittany is considered as one of the six Celtic Nations and the Breton language is actually a sister language of Cornish and Welsh. Today Breton is, unfortunately, a dying language, spoken mainly in Lower Brittany (the western side of the region) and by only approximately 200,000 people in total.

Concarneau

From the Medieval period there is still a lot of structural evidence remaining. You’ll find many Romanesque and Gothic churches in the old towns and villages, as well as castles and manoirs. Saint-Malo still has its medieval town walls, as does Concarneau, excursions to which depart from Le Manoir du Hilguy. Nantes is a great city for a whole range of history; here there still stands the Roman town walls, the 15th century cathedral and the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany which dates from the 13th century.

Cuisine

Brittany is renowned for its fresh seafood and gastronomic restaurants. The area is surrounded by sea and specialises particularly in mussels and oysters. Le Guilvinec is a charming place on Brittany’s south coast and its quayside comes alive when the fishermen return with monkfish, skate and langoustines.

Riec-sur-Belon is known for its oysters. As you approach the little port you will see the famous oyster nets off shore, and from here there are some lovely coastal walks that you can take to enjoy views of the area.

The oyster nets at Belon

Crêperies are very much a part of traditional Breton and French cuisine and Brittany is certainly pancake country. In the Breton-speaking west, the term crêpes is used for both sweet and savoury, being the nearest French equivalent to the Breton krampouez. In eastern Brittany, galettes are often used for the savoury version. At different establishments you can often choose your own fillings or go for a special. Ham, sausage, egg and cheese are standard but there are fishy variations and vegetarian choices too. Let your imagination wander!

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