Categorized | Brittany, Domaine de Kerlann, News, Owning A Holiday Home

Brittany holiday guide

Posted on 25 July 2015 by Dan Johnson

An established favourite with British holidaymakers, Brittany extends an open invitation to ‘Be Breizh’ … Pictures and words by Gillian Thornton.

St Malo, on the Brittany coast

What to Expect

Every region of France has its own USP, but Brittany has a particularly strong identity, with its own language and a vibrant Celtic heritage that has much in common with Cornwall and Ireland. Take a holiday here and you’ll soon find yourself caught up in the unique Breton spirit which locals simply put down to being Breizh, the Breton word for Brittany.

Passenger ferries arrive from England into Roscoff and Saint-Malo on the north coast of Brittany, an easy drive to all points Breton.  Most westerly of the four Breton departments – or counties – is Finistère, which includes a spectacular variety of coastal scenery.

South of Brittany, the area around Nantes, St-Nazaire and St Brévin les Pins is officially in the neighbouring region of Pays de la Loire but was part of Brittany until regional boundaries changed in 1956. So don’t be surprised to hear references to their joint history – many people here are still fiercely Breton!

The whole area offers an irresistible package for both couples and families. Steeped in myths and legends, Brittany is dotted with prehistoric monuments including the world-famous standing stones at Carnac – some 3000 of them.   And follow in the footsteps of Merlin, Arthur and Sir Lancelot in the Paimpont Forest, known in Arthurian legend as Brocéliande – full details at the Arthurian Legend Centre in Château de Comper.

Coastal resorts offer water sports for all ages and abilities, and there are plenty of ways to explore the countryside at your own pace    Walk a section of the Customs Path – Le Sentier des Douaniers – where customs officials once kept watch for smugglers; hire bikes to explore the network of cycle tracks; or tee off on one of the region’s picturesque golf courses.

And be sure to experience the Breton craic at a festival and music event.  The Breton music scene is legendary across France and tickets are a lot cheaper than at home, even for headlining acts. Traditional Breton music and dancing events have recently been designated part of humanity’s cultural heritage by UNESCO. The Bretons call them fest-noz – we just call them fun!

Must-see Sites

St Malo and Roscoff – don’t rush through the ferry ports. St Malo has an excellent aquarium and Roscoff a botanic garden, whilst both offer rich history, tempting boutiques, and atmospheric restaurants.

Pointe du Raz – watch swirling currents and crashing waves off Brittany’s answer to our own Land’s End.   Visitor centre, cliff paths and some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in France.

La Baule – stylish but family-friendly resort developed in the late 19th century. Take a bike tour from the Tourist Office to see beautiful period villas tucked amongst pine trees then relax on the 9-km arc of golden sand.

Beaches in Brittany

Guérande – behind La Baule, the medieval walled city of Guérande overlooks a lunar landscape of salt pans.   Walk the ramparts and soak up the atmosphere then tour the salt pans from the visitor centre at Pradel.

Guerande in Brittany

Nantes – birthplace of author Jules Verne and regional capital of Loire-Atlantique, famous for the outdoor art installations along the Loire estuary and a collection of fantastic machines guaranteed to bring out the child in all of us.

Hidden Gems

Morlaix – if you’re arriving in Roscoff, don’t bypass this pretty town with its brightly coloured half-timbered houses, ancient streets and signature viaduct.  Then head south to …

Morlaix - a hidden gem in Brittany

Huelgoat – pronounced Hoo-el-go-at, a small town steeped in legends on the edge of the Monts d’Arrée, Brittany’s highest point at just 385 metres.   Follow the trail through The Chaos, a wooded walk littered with huge moss-covered boulders and linked to a wealth of mysterious tales.

Huelgot - a hidden gem in Brittany

La Brière Regional Nature Park -   protected wetland bisected by canals near St-Nazaire.  Take a boat excursion or a horse-drawn carriage; explore the traffic-free hamlet of Kerhinet, with its thatched cottages and park interpretation centre.

Pornic – chocolate-box pretty coastal town with medieval castle, and cliff and river walks.

Pornic - a hidden gem in Brittany

Rennes – Brittany’s regional capital is worth a detour on the way south from St Malo, packed with beautiful buildings and rich history.   Take a guided tour of the former Breton parliament building, now the law courts, and follow the Art Deco trail.

Local Flavours

All the family will love crêpes served with every sweet and savoury filling imaginable, the Breton answer to fast food.  Adults may like to wash them down with some Breton farmhouse cider, served in a pottery bowl rather than a glass, but you’ll find apple juice for junior diners and drivers.

Seafood platters are a way of life here. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for assistance if you’re not sure how to crack open a crab or tackle an oyster. Andouille, or chitterling sausage, is not for the faint-hearted, but you’ll find plenty of less challenging meat dishes, such as salt-marsh lamb from the Bay of Mont St Michel.

Meat lovers should check out the flavoursome gigot d’agneau – a delicious roasted leg of lamb that is a regional speciality.

Something between meals?   A box of crisp butter biscuits or galettes won’t last long – one is never enough! And watch out for sweet strawberries from Plougastel in the soft fruit season.

To finish off a delicious meal, dive in to a plate of Brittany cheeses such as Menez Hom and Ty Pavez.

Front Page News

Experience the unique buzz of the annual Fête de Cornouaille in Quimper, a 9-day festival of Breton culture welcoming more than 250,000 visitors from July 21.  Expect music, dance, song and street entertainment with more than 200 shows and events.

Or try the Festival Interceltique de Lorient (7-16 Aug) where 700,000 people from across the world will gather for the best Celtic music.

Tourist information from www.brittanytourism.com.

Where to stay

Domaine de Kerlann near Pont Aven is a holiday village close to the coast and many of Brittany’s favourite attractions. With a superb swimming complex featuring indoor and outdoor pools, children’s clubs, sports and bar and restaurants, Domaine de Kerlann is popular for holidays in Brittany, and with holiday home owners looking to buy their own base.

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