Situated on the north west coast of France, the region of Brittany is perhaps one of the most beautiful in the country. With small, intimate cities that are full of character, traditional farms scattered across the countryside and a coast full of ports, the diversity and mix between natural beauty and man-made simplicity is captivating. It is also a region soaked in tradition and storytelling, with a heady religious influences in its culture and the myths of the lost Breton city Ys. This heritage becomes apparent during the summer months as Brittany displays its Catholic roots in the performing of traditional pardons, processions of penitence through towns, and fest noz, evening dance festivals that occur in many communities.
Places to go
The Pink Granite coast, to the north of Brittany, is exceptionally beautiful. Having one of the highest tidal rise and falls in Europe, its character changes subtly throughout the day. Also worth a visit are the many islands dotted around the coast of Brittany, each with its own personality. Of particular note is the car free island of Brehat, possibly one of the most exquisitely beautiful islands that surround France. Other natural sights of interest are La Pointe du Raz, Brittany's equivalent of Land's end, and Guerledan lake.
The historic walled port city of Vannes in South Brittany is well worth a visit, with its full annual events calendar and the possibility of beautiful harbour side lunch. Another port, this time from a different era, is St Nazaire, where it's possible to explore the impenetrable submarine base at the centre of the German naval defences of the western coast of France. St Nazaire is still a busy shipbuilding port and it is not uncommon to see a large cruise liner under construction in one of the dry docks.
Further north, the cities of Josselin and Fourgeres, both of which boast impressive castles and a long and distinguished history, are must see locations for any itinerary of Brittany.
Food and drink
No visit to Brittany should be complete without a visit to the traditional weekly markets that take place in most towns in the region and which sell local delicacies that just don't appear in the local supermarket. Being a coastal region, much of Brittany's traditional food, like the rest of Northern France, is based around the sea, with a variety of fruits de mer dishes. Galettes, thin savoury brown buckwheat pancakes, are a speciality often served in Breton markets, alongside their more well known cousin, crepes.
The traditional Breton drinks are cider and beer, with a strong tradition of local breweries. There is also a small but significant whiskey brewing heritage, with a range of Breton single malts. Cider is traditionally served in ceramic cups known as bol&eactue;es.
Ferries to Brittany
- Brittany Ferries - Portsmouth to St Malo
- Brittany Ferries - Plymouth to Roscoff
- Condor Ferries - Poole to St Malo
- Condor Ferries - Portsmouth to St Malo
- Irish Ferries - Rosslare to Roscoff
Due to the government decision in the 60s to open Brittany up to a wider range of visitors, Brittany is the only region in France to have an absence of toll motorways. Instead, the region is served by a network of fast dual carriageways. Cars aren't the only way of getting around. The region is also well served by train and coach networks. TGV trains go between the main cities whilst smaller towns are served by local trains and coaches. Prices are low and the journeys are quick, clean and efficient.