Britanny is surrounded by the ocean, a land of ships and fish and waves crashing towards towering
It’s a mixture of untamed and cultured, of sea foam and Celtic roots. It is a spot in contrast to some other in France, part-magical, part-medieval, however stunningly lovely if you happen to like untouched pure landscapes and postcard-perfect ports with boats bobbing within the water, heavy with their catch.
Of the various issues to do in Brittany, these associated to the ocean will most likely be those you do most.
Brittany is a cultural treasure trove, but it’s also France’s solely area to not have any official UNESCO World Heritage
For Bretons, although, Brittany is by far the most effective place on earth.
It is simply that the remainder of the world would not realize it but.
The place IS Brittany, precisely?
Brittany makes up France’s excessive west, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean just like the bow of a ship. It’s made up of 4 départements (listed below are the opposite 97): they’re Ille-et-Vilaine (35), Côtes d’Armor (22), Morbihan (56), and Finistère (29).
Highlights of Brittany
With its almost 2500 kilometers of shoreline (1500 miles) it is no surprise Brittany’s eyes flip to the ocean, its hidden creeks and seashores concealing crystal-clear waters. This makes it best for each doable kind of water sports activities, from crusing and browsing to scuba diving – or just to gaze upon its wild magnificence.
Only one factor: do not complain in regards to the “invigorating” water temperature.
And the place there are rugged coastlines, there are additionally crashing waves, cliffs and boulders.
No matter your pleasure, if you happen to love the ocean and are keen on wild nature, medieval villages and Celtic tradition, then you definately’ll go wild over Brittany.
HIKE ALONG THE COAST OF BRITTANY
Brittany’s coast is breathtaking and you’ll get pleasure from its beautiful views and dramatic cliffs on well-maintained mountaineering trails that run all alongside it. If you happen to get pleasure from journey on foot, you merely can not ignore Brittany’s coastal hikes.
This a part of France is generally flat so the mountaineering is definitely quite simply strolling. Most of those shoreline hikes run alongside the Customs Path, the Sentier des Douaniers, also referred to as the GR 34. It covers the entire western coast of Brittany and was created within the late 1700s for the aim of stopping crime at sea.
The Twentieth century introduced a brand new wave of growth to the outdated trails and these days you possibly can merely get pleasure from scenic, well-marked paths.
These three hikes belong to the “crème de la crème”:
This hike alongside majestic cliffs begins by a tall lighthouse and a smaller one designed by Vauban, Louis XIV’s chief architect and creator of lots of France’s ramparts and fortifications. It additionally goes via a protected nature reserve filled with heather, gives views of islands within the distance, and ends on the picturesque fortress La Latte.
Pink Granite Coast
Right here it’s all in regards to the uniquely formed and uniquely coloured rock, le Granit Rose – it options hues of pink! The extraordinarily simple path passes totally different rock formations and boulders, small coves, and bays and ends on the fishing port city of Ploumanac’h, with its little crescent seashore.
A hike on this abandoned peninsula is extraordinarily scenic. Plummeting cliffs, little islands.. and heather in all places… You too can observe remnants of a wartime coastal protection system. The hike ends on the city of Camaret-sur-Mer, the place you possibly can get pleasure from a beautiful meal and a fortress constructed by Vauban.
—Contribution by Veronika Primm of travelgeekery.com
Arriving from Paris by automotive, the Ille-et-Vilaine is the primary départment you will drive into. Its capital, Rennes, can be the capital of Brittany, a pleasant metropolis stuffed with crooked homes and cobblestoned streets.
RENNES: CAPITAL OF BRITTANY
Rennes is the cultural and administrative capital of Brittany and the jap gateway to the area. With a inhabitants of about 225,000, it’s a superb place to spend a number of days or a pleasant base for day journeys, as it’s well-connected by practice and bus to different elements of Brittany. The driverless metro is state-of-the-art and makes it easy to get round. In reality, Rennes is the smallest metropolis in France to have a metro.
Be part of a strolling tour or a motorcycle tour to discover the historical past of the outdated city. You’ll need to see the quaint half-timbered homes from the sixteenth century and the Breton parliament constructing, illuminated in summer time by a light-weight and music present.
One other particular summer time occasion is the Fest Noz conventional Breton music and dance pageant within the park. That is the most effective place to see conventional Breton music and dance and even check out some conventional video games and be part of within the dancing.
Be taught in regards to the historical past of the music and dance you noticed on the Musée de Bretagne, an interactive museum which traces the historical past of Rennes and the Brittany area.
The Saturday market within the Place des Lices is among the greatest in France, and an excellent place to strive the most effective of native Breton delicacies and choose up some meals for a picnic within the huge Parc du Thabour. In order for you a sit-down meal, go for a galette or crêpe on the Crêperie Sainte-Anne to folks watch round Place Sainte-Anne and the Basilique Notre Dame.
—Contribution by Kristin Montgomery of GrowingGlobalCitizens.com
The département is stuffed with medieval historical past, however can be residence to such nationwide treasures because the Saint-Malo metropolis ramparts.
SAINT-MALO, HOME OF CORSAIRS AND PIRATES
Among the finest locations to go to in Brittany and an unmissable cease in your itinerary is Saint-Malo. The walled medieval metropolis within the north of the area is definitely essentially the most visited metropolis in Brittany, and 4 million guests per 12 months merely can’t be unsuitable.
Situated on the Côte d’Émeraude (Emerald Coast), also referred to as the pearl of Brittany, Saint-Malo has a protracted historical past as a corsair and pirate city. Its location proper on the English Channel couldn’t have been higher for forcing English ships to pay tribute for passing, and it introduced notable wealth to city.
The pirate days are over and in the present day, Saint-Malo is a well-liked vacationvacation spot for French and worldwide vacationers, and has among the best seashores in Brittany, at Bon-Secours. When visiting Saint-Malo, it’s greatest to start out with a stroll via the historic heart to discover the cobbled stone alleys, the area’s typical homes, cute shops and even a handful of turrets.
It’s simple to find the historic heart, by the best way: it’s surrounded by an enormous walled rampart. You possibly can enter via one of many many entry factors and stroll all the size of the town. From the partitions you possibly can take within the spectacular views over Saint-Malo, but additionally the ocean, the harbor and the 2 little offshore islands.
If the climate is nice, you additionally spend time at one of many seashores in entrance of the town partitions. Saint-Malo is understood for among the greatest tides in Europe: on a sunny day, stroll over to the offshore islands, which change into reachable on foot at low tides. The smaller one of many two, Petit Bé, is residence to a small fort, which will be visited with a guided tour.
—Contribution by Lena Drevermann of salutfromparis.com
Locations to see in Ille-et-Vilaine
Saint-Suliac: Not removed from Saint-Malo is the seaside village of Saint-Suliac, its lovely granite homes with cheerful shutters bordering a delicate bay dotted with fishing boats, the occasional internet recalling a previous of cod fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.
Cancale: This beautiful port is known for its oysters, which you’ll pattern proper off the boat, or sitting alongside the port, or in one of many many eateries alongside the water. If you happen to hike round right here (the well-known GR34 rears its head once more) you will see all of the oyster banks within the distance. You will additionally discover beautiful creeks and white sandy seashores on the best way to Saint-Malo, however consuming oysters is unquestionably one of many high issues to do in Brittany.
Bécherel: This village might have fewer than 1000 inhabitants, nevertheless it has greater than a dozen bookshops! Stroll alongside the granite homes of this hilltop village and benefit from the views.
Dinard: This is among the most well-known locations alongside the Emerald Coast and presumably the best-known spa city, with its beautiful villas and Belle Epoque vibe, and the long-lasting blue and white seashore tents lined up alongside the primary seashore. Look throughout the water for a surprising view of the fortified metropolis of Saint-Malo.
BROCÉLIANDE FOREST (AKA FORȆT DE PAIMPONT)
Sitting astride the Ile-et-Vilaine and Morbihan departments is a bewitching forest stuffed with magic, the place actuality and creativeness meet. Formally often known as Paimpont Forest, Brocéliande is extra dream than actuality, the right setting for all these medieval legends and one of many extra uncommon issues to do in Brittany.
Suppose King Arthur… and begin your immersion into Arthurian legend by visiting Comper, a medieval fort, adopted by Merlin’s tomb (properly, his supposed tomb) and the Fountain of Youth, assured so as to add years to your life – so long as you have led an exemplary one, which after all all of us have.
Rent a storyteller and immerse your self on this legendary Arthurian ambiance. (Contact the vacationer workplace for assist in discovering English-language excursions. This group additionally gives excursions.)
There’s one thing magical in regards to the Morbihan – the great thing about its historical buildings and gulf islands, after all, but additionally the legends that cover behind the Carnac stones and the Brocéliande Forest.
In a land stuffed with wonderful medieval cities, Vannes, the capital of this départment, is among the greatest cities in Brittany. As soon as its capital, it was supplanted by Rennes when Brittany grew to become French.
WALLED CITY OF VANNES
Known as Daroritum beneath the Romans, this Gallo-Roman port is among the area’s most essential, and due to this fact fortified. It was Brittany’s capital for some time and that is the place François I met with Breton officers to seal the unification of Brittany and France, so it performed an essential function in Breton historical past. The union with France additionally spelled the start of the decline of Vannes.
The town has a wealthy heritage of half-timbered homes, greater than 200 of them, that are the delight of lovers of medieval buildings. Twice every week, a market is held on the Place des Lices, as soon as the positioning of jousts.
The Archeological Museum of the Morbihan, positioned within the Chateau Gaillard, can be value a go to.
Locations to see within the Morbihan
It is a much-loved area and you will run out of time earlier than you run out of locations to see.
Belle-Île-en-Mer: That is wilderness at its greatest, and an ideal defensive level towards overseas invaders and pirates throughout the Center Ages., fortified with the beautiful Citadelle Vauban (sure, once more!). However there’s far more to see on the island, from the busy Port du Palais to the pastel colors of Sauzon and the wild coast of the north. To the west, the rocky cliffs and crashing waves fascinated Claude Monet, and you will see why. A bus tour may properly be the simplest strategy to tour the island and it is one of many favorite Brittany vacationer points of interest.
Quiberon Peninsula: This beautiful space is made for lovers of nature, from its sunsets to seashores to wild coastlines, among the many better of Brittany for pure landscapes.
Côtes d’Armor (22)
The Côtes d’Armor takes you deeper into Breton immersion because the native language swirls round you and also you bump into extra quaint fishing villages (we will by no means see too many of those!) and dramatic cliff backdrops.
That is additionally residence to the ravishing Thirteenth-century city of Dinan, the place you will really feel such as you’ve stepped out of a time machine.
With over 130 historic timber-framed homes, visiting Dinan is like visiting the Thirteenth century. Dinan is even pictured on the Bayeux Tapestry, a Romanesque piece of artwork commissioned almost one thousand years in the past.
Dinan is perched on a steep hill above the Rance River. On the backside of the hill, the port is lined with eating places, bars and cafes with unbelievable river views, and a viaduct inbuilt 1852 to provide entry to the city.
If you wish to see the most effective medieval structure in France, head to the Rue du Jerzual, a cobblestone street that runs via Dinan and has modified little or no prior to now few hundred years.
For hundreds of years this road has been residence to medieval craftspeople, from weavers to tanners, and lately it’s inhabited by glass-blowers, sculptors and painters. Beware, it’s a steep hill however with benches for resting alongside the best way.
Historic vacationer points of interest in Dinan embody the Jacobins Theatre, which dates again to 1224, the flamboyant Gothic St Malo Church, the Romanesque St Saviour Basilica, the Tour de l’Horloge, the town ramparts and the Château de Dinan.
You possibly can stroll alongside the ramparts of the town to absorb the wonderful views and the 14th-century château, inbuilt 1382 by John IV of Montfort. Or just people-gaze on the Place Mercier, the industrial coronary heart of city.
―Contribution by Religion Coates of xyuandbeyond.com
Locations to see within the Côtes d’Armor
Ploumanach’: This cute fishing village alongside the Granite Coast boasts a spectacular stone lighthouse, an iconic sight of the village.
L’île de Bréhat: The way in which to see this postcard-perfect island is on foot or by renting a motorcycle, as a result of it’s car-free, its fairly inlets with turquoise waters and dramatic − and photogenic − stone formations.
Moncontour: One of many “most lovely villages in France”, often known as the plus beaux villages de France. As soon as made rich by the textile commerce, among the regal properties of the interval stay − as do the city ramparts.
Tréguier: This historic bishopric is residence to the Cathédrale Saint-Tugdual, one in every of Brittany’s most lovely, and its Fifteenth-century Gothic cloister.
Cap Fréhel: Its plunging cliffs are residence to many nesting birds, and its moors are amongst Europe’s largest. Marshall your vitality for the view from the lighthouse.
If you happen to occur to be right here in August, strive to absorb the Sea Shanty Competition, the Competition du Chant de Marin in Paimpol. It is all about boats and the ocean, and annually it is devoted to a special nation or area of the world.
The very form of the Finistère − a little bit of a snout protruding into the ocean − means the ocean isn’t far-off, its odor and brine in all places.
Like the opposite elements of Brittany, you will discover beautiful medieval villages within the Finistère, like Locronan, for instance, one of the well-known, or the allure of Daoualas Abbey.
However there’s loads extra to be seen right here, particularly on the subject of nature.
Just like the hilly Monts d’Arrée, the place you possibly can gambol round Hoelgoat’s forest, which you may simply suppose is Brocéliande’s little sister.
And once more, make a detour round by the Chemin des Douaniers on the Crozon Peninsula (GR 34) on the excessive western tip of Finistère for abandoned white seashores, secluded creeks and majestic backdrops, and water so blue you may as properly be within the Mediterranean.
Locations to see within the Finistère
Brest: A maritime heart of which solely the Fifteenth-century fort and some ramparts stay – the remaining was destroyed throughout World Warfare II and rebuilt. An attention-grabbing metropolis for anybody eager on maritime affairs or navy historical past.
Concarneau: House of one in every of France’s famend walled cities, for lovers of ramparts and fortresses. The Ville Shut is surrounded by ramparts (constructed by Vauban, who else?) and hosts a serious Breton folks pageant in August.
Douarnenez: As soon as France’s biggest sardine ports, that is nonetheless very a lot a fishing city, with boats bringing within the day by day catch. Throughout the bay you possibly can see Tristan Island, principally off-limits however accessible a number of days a month when the tide recedes and a path seems (and sure, you can too go by boat).
Landevennec: Its microclimate is sort of Mediterranean and its abbey remains to be inhabited by Benedictine monks. An archeological dig is close by, together with a museum which traces 13 centuries of Breton historical past.
Locronan: A pleasant village that can be listed as one in every of France’s most lovely, and with motive, particularly when all of the flowers are out. A couple of centuries in the past, the village held the sail-weaving monopoly of France, and all sails had been made right here. Nowadays, it’s typically used as a backdrop for movies or TV reveals.
Pont-Aven: If you happen to love the artwork of Paul Gauguin (and others), it’s possible you’ll already know of this small small city, which nonetheless reveals tons of of work of the surroundings which drew artists right here within the nineteenth century to kind what grew to become often known as the Ecole de Pont-Aven.
Roscoff: Granite homes and fishing boats will remind you of the pirate previous of the city which as soon as rivalled Saint-Malo. At the moment, it is also well-known for its wellness facilities or spas.
Finistère journey ideas
In summer time, issues can get a little bit touristy, so set your course for one of many many small islands within the space: Ouessant and its lighthouse (and lighthouse museum), the oh-so-peaceful Sein, the just about untouched Molène and the Glénans archipelago, famend for its world-class crusing college and clear waters.
If you happen to do need folks round you, think about France’s largest fashionable music pageant, le Competition des Vielles Charrues in Carhaix, which is attended by three-quarters of one million festival-goers annually.
For one thing extra Breton, the Cornouaille Competition in Quimper is the place it’s best to expertise this Celtic extravaganza.
The historical past of Brittany (and what makes this land so particular)
Brittany has been a part of France for almost 600 years, however typically you’d suppose it solely occurred yesterday. Some Bretons nonetheless discover it tough to simply accept.
Brittany had no want to hitch France again within the sixteenth century and solely did so when the heiress to the Duchy, Anne of Brittany, married King Charles VIII of France (and upon his demise, as agreed earlier than it, his cousin Louis XII). Beneath the wedding settlement, Brittany would retain a few of its autonomy and customs, guarantees which had been by no means saved.
Like many previously unbiased areas of France, bringing Brittany into France did not stomp out its tradition, which survived even when challenged.
By the Twentieth century, Breton tradition had begun to erode. The Breton language backpedaled, being alternately banned or ignored, even by its personal folks, who noticed French as extra trendy and who craved schooling – which was all in French. France’s centralizing push additionally contributed, hoping to make excellent little French folks out of all its residents.
The mid-Twentieth century noticed “nice nationalisms” sweep the world, and France was no exception. The language – often known as brezhoneg – was again in vogue, and other people had been proud to talk it.
At the moment, brezhoneg is in full revival and is the one language in France, together with Basque, that has not developed from Latin, being nearer to Cornish. In 2020, almost 10,000 college students had been bilingual in brezhoneg at commencement.
As in different areas which had been introduced unwillingly into France, some activist teams advocate for Brittany’s independence (Savoy and Corsica are different French examples).
Are you conversant in Astérix? He is a little bit comedian ebook character, a lot cherished by the French, who lives in a tiny Breton village in what was then referred to as Armorique (Brittany beneath the Romans). The village is a holdout towards the conquering Romans, and every time they conflict, the little Bretons (or Gauls, because the Romans referred to as them) would win. The comics are out there in English and are each enjoyable and clever, to not point out deeply embedded in France’s tradition.
Astérix aside, you get the sense in Brittany that every citizen is a finely formed ambassador for the area, whisking out that Breton satisfaction at each flip. And in all places you go in France, you will encounter a chunk of Brittany, whether or not as stickers on automobiles, as discreet little flags, or in your plate everytime you eat a crêpe or a galette.
This regional id has even prolonged to creating their very own mushy drink: the Breizh Cola.
Consuming in Brittany
In fact, among the best issues to do in Bretagne, because it’s referred to as in French, is to eat. Many specialties have exported properly, and it’s possible you’ll be conversant in a few of these dishes:
Craquelins: dry biscuits (first boiled, then baked) to eat with a candy spreadGalette: what we all know as a savory crêpe, made with buckwheat (and sometimes stuffed with sausage)Pommé: an apple- and cider-based marmaladeSeafoodAndouille de Guémené: a typical Breton pork delicacy however a little bit of an acquired tasteTome de Rhuys: created from uncooked cow’s milkGâteau Breton: an addictive mixture of eggs, flour, butter and sugarPalet Breton: a kind of butter biscuit, to your afternoon coffeeKouign-amann: a Breton pastry with loads butter and sugar, crispy on the surface and mushy on the within
When to go to Brittany
The truth that it typically rains right here is not any secret, so the most effective time to go to Brittany is within the
summer time, from June to September. There are extra vacationers throughout this time, after all, however
extra sunshine too.
Attending to Brittany
Brittany is definitely accessible.
You will get right here from Paris on the Atlantic TGV which takes you to Rennes (1.5 hours), Saint-Malo in beneath 3 hours, and Brest in beneath 4.
You too can take the practice to Rennes instantly from Lyon with out having to attach in Paris. Try the assorted practice schedules and costs right here.
There are additionally flights to Brittany from neighbouring international locations. Airports in Brittany France embody Rennes, Brest, Lorient, Dinard and Quimper. Airports close to Brittany embody Nantes.
Getting round Brittany
Driving round Brittany
By far one of the simplest ways to go to this area is to take a street journey via Brittany, just because it’s comparatively rural and most of the locations you will need to see usually are not simple to achieve.
Driving in France is usually a problem, however Brittany roads are good and comparatively uncrowded, so that is one area the place a automotive would positively be an asset.
I do not all the time drive my very own automotive round France. Once I lease, I take advantage of Uncover Automobiles, which scours the online for the most effective offers from ALL automotive rental companies.
Bus and practice round Brittany
Brittany has an intensive public transportation community of trains and buses, they usually go nearly in all places.
Sadly, some are seasonal, and others supply very restricted transportation choices, so main planning and analysis are concerned.
Try the wonderful (however in French) BreizhGo public transport web site, particularly this map, which provides you a birds’ eye view of all choices all through Brittany.
Take a tour in Brittany
Whereas Brittany is ideal for a solo go to, if you happen to’re quick on time or do not need to spend it organizing journey from place to position, think about taking one thing extra organized.
This Brittany Strolling Tour is a combination of mountaineering alongside the GR 34 and of being transported to the right place to begin. You will see greater than “simply” Brittany as a result of the tour ends in Mont Saint-Michel, which is technically in Normandy.
If you happen to’re feeling match and and need to go biking in Brittany however don’t desire the effort of organizing all of it by yourself, take a look at Biking alongside the Emerald Coast, which can take you to most of the spots we have described right here.
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