BRITTANY: a world apart
is a very pretty region, situated in the most westerly point in Europe
stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean. The name Brittany literally means
'Little Britain' and it was here that the Celtic peoples from Wales, Ireland,
Scotland and Cornwall sought asylum many years ago during the Dark Ages.
Holidays in Brittany are a good choice as there is something for everyone and you will want to come back for more. It is one of the most popular regions for people from the UK as it is near to the south coast of England. But that alone is paltry reason for visiting the area; there is so much of interest, a wealth of prehistory, a legacy of a unique in independent culture, and a spirit of defiance.
Today, Brittany is divided into four departments: Morbihan, Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes d'Armor (Côtes du Nord until the 1990s), Morbihan and Finistère. But many Bretons, always a feisty bunch (and probably with just cause) routinely regard Nantes and Loire-Atlantique as part of Brittany, as indeed they were until the Vichy government hived off these two departments following the Second World War, an unpopular move ratified ingloriously by the post-war organisation of the regions in 1957.
BRITTANY: places to visit
Belle-Ile-en-Mer – 'Beautiful Island at
sea', and very much just that! If you want a getaway form it all break this is ideal.
This is where Monet created some of his paintings. Visit the needle rocks of
Port Coton to see these rocky formations isolated in the beautiful turquoise
Carnac – Here you will see the famous but
strange unique standing stones of Carnac. There is also a beautiful family
seaside resort and a state-of-the-art Thalassotherapy centre.
Domaine de Kerguéhennec – an 18th-century
château, used nowadays as a sculpture park.
Golfe du Morbihan – or Gulf of Morbihan
is a natural harbour, a paradise for boat trips and birdlife. There are many Megalithic
monuments and stone circles to see which are fascinating.
Josselin– Something for everyone here
including its beautiful castle, home to the Rohan family; a doll museum and
some fantastic forest walks for those who seek the outdoor life.
Quiberon – Rugged coastline and beautiful
sandy beaches; fishing villages where you can see the fishermen unload their
daily catch; St-Pierre-Quiberon is where most things take place. Here you will
find wonderful fish restaurants, chandler’s shops, art galleries, home deco
boutiques and much more.
La Roche-Bernard –a fortified village
built on water between Vannes and Nantes. It has a wonderful outdoor market on
a Thursday where you can sample the local honey and excellent cuisine.
Armour Regional Nature
Beautiful conservation area with a huge variety of wildlife.
Concarneau – Here you
can climb the ramparts of the Vile Close or visit the Musée de Pêche. For food
lovers there is the wonderful criée (fish auction) or you can take a boat trip
to the Îles de Glénan.
Le Conquet –You can
follow the lighthouse trail which is along North Finistère’s Côte des Abers.
Douarnenez – Port-Rhu and the
boat museum on Douamenez harbour are really worth seeing.
Guimiliau – here the
little church is beautiful with its Renaissance sculpture.
Locronan – an
historic village where you can see the lovely craft studios.
Morlaix – you can
walk across the viaduct to take in a fantastic view of this town.
Océanopolis – Here you
can see one of Europe’s largest Aquariums.
Pointe du Raz – This is
the coastal promontory where you can take in the dramatic coastal views of
Brittany and watch the tides as they race past the Île de Sein.
Pont-Aven – named
after the river that runs through the village. Now famous because of the
post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin who found this beautiful little place
was an artist’s paradise. Lovely walks and appetising cuisine.
Quimper – this is
known as the cultural capital of Brittany. Very much a strong Breton feel in
this beautiful town and the Festival de Cornouaille is a must to see if you
visit in July every year.
Roscoff – an old
harbour town, home to Onion Johnnies! In August each year they hold the Fête de
l' Oignon and you can enjoy onion tarts and the famous French onion soup. For
music fans there is the equivalent to Glastonbury with the Les Vieilles
St Pol-de-Léon – named
after one of the saints who found Brittany, Saint Paul Aurelian and has an
Côte d'Emeraude (The Emerald coast) –
Here you will see a rugged stretch of coastline with breathtaking views. Many
of these fantastic views were captured on canvas by the 19th-century artists.
Côte de Granit Rose – an unforgettable
stretch of a dramatic russet granite coastline make this an outstanding area of
Brittany. The beautiful pink rose-coloured granite is used as building material
along this area and is in contrast to the grey stone in other areas of this region.
Dinan – A beautiful old town and the best
way of seeing it is on foot. There are quaint cobbled streets from the old
quarter that lead down to the pretty little port. The buildings of Dinan are so
picturesque with their lopsided buildings and colourful displays of flowers.
There are many art galleries, craft shops and restaurants to explore and wonder
Île de Bréhat – a traffic free retreat
for bicycling and walking. The area is so picturesque, and once you have seen
this beautiful area you will realise why it deserves investigating.
Lamballe – This area is definitely worth
a visit as the area is so beautiful with its old quarter of timbered buildings.
If you are a horse lover you will want to visit the Haras National (the
national stud) where you will see some of the Breton draught horses. There are
guided tours from mid July until late August. There is also a wonderful folk
museum showing costumes, ceramics, tools and prehistoric items. You can also
see works by the local artist Mathurin Méheut who also designed jewellery and
wall paper as well as painting Breton fishing scenes and local life.
Paimpol – This is a working port with
in-shore fishing and oyster farming. There is a lively market every Tuesday
where many visitors are not disappointed with the atmosphere and the handsome
old buildings and shop fronts.
This is Brittany's oyster capital and if you want to sample their fruits de mer
this is the place to dine, although you can sample oysters from the traders at
the end of the sea wall.
Once a small sea port but later discovered by the British and Americans who
built beautiful seaside villas overlooking the fantastic bay. It remains today,
a chic expensive resort and has strong links to Anglo-Saxon connections with an
air link to London.
This picturesque border town has fortifications built against attack from the
east. A petit train called the Oriental Express will take you up the hill from
Mont St Michel –
This beautiful and famous fortified area is separated from the mainland by
quick sands and tides. The Mount was originally an island in the sea and is now
a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can have a guided tour of the abbey which is
often referred to as La Merveille or 'the wonder'. Recent work has radically
improved access to the retreat.
This lovely town is best seen on arrival by sea. On this approach the
waterfront is truly majestic. Most of the main attractions are within walking
distance of the port's terminals.
A beautiful preserved medieval town with picturesque half-timbered houses and a
formidable castle. The black and white Breton flag or the Gwenn ha du represent
the ancient bishoprics of Upper and Lower Brittany France and can be seen
flying everywhere in the area.