A Guide to: Brittany

Located in the northwest of France, Brittany has an historic past and a rich Celtic heritage.

Its name is derived from the Britons who fled across the English Channel to escape the Anglo-Saxons and settled in the west and north of this small peninsula. There can be many similarities heard in the local Breton language to that of Wales and Cornwall and, although the Breton language is rarely used now in day-to-day living, it is still being taught in many schools. The local population also keep their Celtic roots alive with folk music and festivals, as well as the historic monuments across the region.

Brittany’s climate is mild and warmer than the south east of England. The region is graced with a wonderful diversity of scenery; on the west and north the Atlantic coastline is rocky and rugged, interspersed with lovely sandy coves and beaches.

Meanwhile, wide sandy beaches can be found on the southern coast, with small inlets enjoyed by yachtsmen and a small fishing community. Being more sheltered than the north and west, the sea is often warmer here. Further across the region is a granite ridge arriving at the peaks of Monts d’Arrée.

Brittany is one of the most popular areas of France, attracting holidaymakers from all across Europe with its easy access to the Belgian boarder or the Channel ports.

With a coastline stretching some 2800km there’s a huge variety of activities and historical sights to enjoy. If rolling seas and dramatic cliffs are your preference then head for the Corzon peninsular or Cap Sizun. In the peaceful Bay of Audierne activities such as sand-yachting and kite-surfing are popular, or you can take the boat tour of the Grottes Morgat, an adventure full of colour and intrigue.

The waters are calmer in the Gulf of Morbihan where you can find some excellent yachting facilities. If you fancy a little fishing, then head for Jugon-les-Lacs near Lamballe.

Alternatively, you could hire a boat on the Nantes-Brest canal, the Blavet or the Rance. Cruising along these peaceful waterways you can enjoy the historic towns of Pontivy (with its medieval castle), Malestroit or Josselin and its Basilique Notre Dame du Roncier.

If you prefer to walk then there is an abundance of coastal or inland footpaths to follow. Head to Huelgoat’s Forest to see the amazing granite boulders, some up to 20m high. It’s a magical place to visit – full of legends and myths.

There are also canal walks, a lead and silver mine to explore, as well as hill walking on the Monts d’Arrée, taking you to the highest point of Brittany with spectacular views of Finistère.

The cities of Brittany include the well known port of St-Malo and its citadel in the old town. Brest has a wonderful Medieval château which overlooks the Penfeld river and has an interesting Maritime Museum. Lastly, dominated by the grand cathedral of St-Corentin, Quimper is the small capital of Finistère and is host to the Festival de Cornouaille: a celebration of the region’s heritage featuring colourful costumes and local music.

Rennes is the capital city of Brittany boasting some impressive half-timbered medieval houses, the Parc du Thabor with its rose garden, the Espace des Sciences and the Musée des Beaux-art (with works by Picasso, Rubens and Botticelli).

Besides the stunning scenery and world-class attractions, you can expect to be fed like a King throughout your stay in France.

Much of Brittany is still comprised of agricultural and farming land – its butter and milk production are well known throughout France. Brittany is also famed for its crêpes and galettes that are scattered and stuffed with countless fillings and toppings.

Most importantly, Brittany has some of the best fish in France such as sea bass, sole, John Dory, monkfish and turbot. You can also dine on an abundance of freshly caught shell-fish: scallops (Coquilles St Jacques), crab, oysters, prawns, clams and the legendary mussels. There’s no better lunch than a large serving of freshly prepared Moules Marinière and frites with mayonnaise on the side.