With its wild, rolling interior and dramatically rugged coastline, Brittany draws many visitors year after year. Those wishing for a taste of authentic France without wishing to head too far South have an array of attractions and places of interest that will fascinate and charm in equal measure.
From the piratical vistas of St Malo in the North to the beaches along on the Bay of Biscay in the South, Brittany continues to delight those who spend time there. Driving down from Roscoff (from Plymouth) or St Malo (from Portsmouth) is pleasant and the bonus is that the Autoroutes in Brittany are as excellent as anywhere in France but are toll free.
Brittany is a fiercely independent region of France and was only formally recognised as part of the country as late as the sixteenth century. Make no mistake, the locals are Bretons and see themselves as that as much as they do as being French.
It has many Celtic traits, from the language and ancient populous to the same coastline full of jagged cliffs and bays that we can see in Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. Brittany’s long sea boundary attracts beach lovers and the rugged interior, mostly left unspoiled and very rural is much loved by those seeking a picturesque and peaceful break from British hustle and bustle.
The climate is good for so far north and summers are warm, bright and hazy but with a little more rain than the south. However it is what helps the local farmers grow some of the very finest produce in all of France.
The rural landscape is the foundation for the region’s lively market of fruit and vegetables. Onions have been shipped to across to the UK for many years and give rise to the stereotypical picture of the French onion seller on his bicycle, proudly wearing his Breton shirt and beret.
Some Muscadet wine is produced and some beers but the main drink, as with neighbouring Normandy, is cider. It is often enjoyed with one of Brittany’s staple dishes, the gallette. Gallettes are savoury pancakes, often stuffed to the brim with cheese, mushroom, hams, eggs and sausage. The sweet crepe is a popular dessert dish and is typically served with melted butter.
With a long and rambling coastline it is natural that fishing and seafood is an important part of Breton life. Langoustines are delicious for an alfresco lunch and mussels and oysters are also mainstays of the region.
Staying in Brittany gives the visitor a chance to sample the pleasures of the traditional Breton gite or farmhouse. Typically with shuttered windows, thick walls and slate pitch rooves or thatching's.
From your base you can visit the beach, the famous stones at Carnac to the south or the Armorique National Park to the north, a host of local markets from which to buy the freshest and best ingredients for an amazing dinner. There are endless lanes along which to stroll and visit the many renaissance and medieval churches and buildings that dot the interior.
Bicycle hire is widely available if you’d like to join in with France’s summer obsession and freewheel along those same country lanes and perhaps work off that extra crepe from last night.
Brittany is welcoming, adventurous and fun and if you choose to fully embrace it you will be rewarded with memories, tastes and sights that will last a lifetime. It’s why it’s so very popular and so many people choose to return, again, and again and again.