Brittany, a land of seafarers, a place of legends

Which English actor once said ‘I have loved Brittany since I used to swim naked at Saint-Briac when I was a child’? He still keeps a bit of that childish charm… perhaps he still goes with his own children?

Anyway, with 1,700 miles of glorious coastline from Cancale to Saint-Nazaire; from the Pink Granite coast and hidden coves in the North to the idyllic beaches of the Morbihan, seamlessly following on from one another, Brittany has space for everyone and every taste.

Inland, unspoilt countryside is dotted with fascinating towns and villages steeped in history and culture offering bustling markets and quirky boutiques and museums.

The ideal mix of coast and country, culture and the Briton craic!

DINAN © DIAPHANEOn the Emerald coast lies fierce Saint Malo – the ‘town of corsairs’ – and Concarneau, a 14th century stronghold in the south, which are today lovely cities with guest houses lining the cobblestone streets of the old town and ‘ville close’, as Plougastel Daoulas is still the capital of the strawberry! (Herve, our Head of Communications who is Briton told me ‘it’s the world capital of strawberry’ – of course!)

It seems that nearly all the British know Brittany. But, who has ever been to Houat and Hoedic? Did you ever go to the Glenans? Or have you ever visited Ouessant or Sein?

Brittany has a string of islands along its 1,700 miles of coastline, all different from each other, but all worth a visit or even a stay: Belle Ile, Batz, Brehat, Ile aux Moines, Molene…

Britain has Stonehenge, Brittany has Carnac, its menhirs and dolmens which are still a mystery.

Before leaving the coast and heading back inland to explore the interior of the country, don’t forget to taste seafood and shellfish, oysters, langoustines and the famous Breton lobster!

© Pierre TorsetThe other face of Brittany is the one that conjures up Lancelot and his quest for the Holy Grail, the forest of Broceliande and the heather covered moors. Myths and legends still abound inspired by this nature with its austere charm (don’t look for Asterix and Obelix though; they left a couple of centuries ago!).

Yes, somewhere, Brittany is a country with very strong values, culture – the Breton language is taught at school – and beliefs.

In most of the villages locals still wear the ‘coiffes bretonnes’, a traditional costume. Whilst wearing these, they gather around the famous and unique ‘calvaires’ which are great pieces of art as well as representations of the strong identity of this region.

There you will find small ‘auberges’ and ‘tables d’hotes’ where you will be served the most authentic food and ‘charcuterie’ you can dream of. Not forgetting the artichokes, the onions and the cauliflowers! Have you ever heard of how Brittany Ferries (lien?) was created?

Before boarding back to GB, stop in Rennes, the capital of Brittany and enjoy the charm and the splendour of a fabulous heritage. Maybe consider visiting the city with a ‘greeter’ www.rennes-greeters.com/en

Degemer mat e Breizh!

Attitude © Michel RenacWhere to sleep?

  • Refurbished: Set in the historical centre of Saint-Malo, 4* La Maison des Armateurs is the highest rated hotel in the area and places its visitors only minutes away from St. Malo’s most attractive sites.
  • Luxury: Le Val de Brangon guesthouse is located a few miles away from the Ile aux Moines quays and the Baden golf course. Set in the middle of the Brittany countryside, it is a charming home with a superb spa.
  • Eco-friendly: The Manoir Dalmore is a hotel full of character that welcomes its guests in an outstanding and privileged environment, facing the Port Manec’h beach. It was awarded the European Eco-label in 2012.

Where to eat?

  • Luxury: La Clarté is a gastronomic restaurant in Perros-Guirec with a modern aesthetic set in a traditional Breton house. It is part of the Tables et Saveurs network which includes all of Brittany’s Michelin-starred restaurants.
  • Organic: Les Enfants Gat’thes is a delicatessen, tea room and restaurant in a quaint building near the artistic town of La Gacilly. Superbly presented, there is a selection of worldwide teas and coffees on offer.
  • Niche and quirky: Located in Rennes, La Creperie St Georges serves one of the region’s specialities but with unusual twists. Try a Carambar, foie gras, or curry crepe. Each is named after a famous George, such as Clooney or Pompidou!

How to Enjoy Yourself?

35gacilly © sbourcierEver since August 1993 and a concert by a group of illustrious unknown musicians from Oxford (now known as Radiohead), the Route du Rock Festival of Saint Malo has gone from strength to strength. It is now considered somewhat of a benchmark in terms of British and American pop and rock music.

From the pretty harbour of Audierne to the Isle of Sein, enjoy a wonderful sailing experience in the company of some of the region’s favourite stories and fables. Take a journey to the edge of the known world, as well as the pretty harbours along the Atlantic coast of Brittany.

Les Sept-Iles’ is one of the Nature Reserves set up around Brittany to protect rare bird colonies such as gannets and puffins. No better way to explore the reserve and its many treasures than on a magnificent traditional sailing boat.

How to Get There?

BORD DE RANCE © Diaphane

  • By plane: Direct flights from London, Southampton, Nothingham East Midlands, Exeter, Leeds-Bradford, Cork, & Dublin to Brest, Dinard and/or Rennes with Ryanair, CityJet, BA Cityflyer and FlyBe.
  • By train: From London to Rennes, Brest, Quimper and other cities (via Paris or Lille) by Eurostar and TGV.
  • By boat: Cross-Channel ferry from Portsmouth, Plymouth, Poole, Weymouth, Cork and Rosslare to St-Malo and Roscoff with Brittany Ferries, Condor Ferries and Irish Ferries.

Categories: Inspire me

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