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The Brittany region of North West France


Regional Departments
Côtes d'Armor, Île-et-Vilaine, Finistère, Morbihan.

Main Towns
Renne, St-Brieuc, Brest, Quimper, Lorient, Vannes, St Malo, Dinan, Fougères.

The Brittany peninsular on the far Northwest coast of France is a region defined not only by its geography but by its people, their traditions and their ancient celtic heritage. The Breton language is still widely spoken and its origin is close to the celtic languages of their Cornish, Welsh and Irish cousins. Like many people living near the sea the Bretons have developed a culture rich in myth and legend, music and folk art. You can walk through the magical forest of Broceliande, home of Merlin, where King Arthur and his Knights came on their search for the Holy Grail. Or visit the forest of Huelgoat with its mysterious immense rocks, grottos and streams and tales of giants and goblins. Other legends include the story of Tristram and Iseult (Tristan and Isolde), the inspiration for Wagner's opera.



This Breton belief in legend combined over the centuries with Catholicism to produce a profound religious reverence and the famous 'pardons', festivals with processions on important on Saints days, take place between May and September. During these processions you may have the chance to see some of the great variety of richly embroidered traditional costumes. The pardons are a celebration with much dancing and music using instruments such as the celtic harp, Breton bagpipes, drums and flutes.

The Côte d'Emeraude (Emerald Coast) runs west along the north coast of Brittany from Mont Saint-Michel, the vast cathedral dedicated to the Archangel Michael built on a rock that can only be reached at low tide. There are a number of towns, villages and fine sandy beaches from St Malo and Dinard to St-Brieuc, all linked by a coastal road. Take time to visit Dinan a little inland from St Malo, which lies at the mouth of the River Rance. Its lovely town, cobbled streets and ancient city walls give it an old world air and there are many good restaurants.

Further along, the coves and inlets of the Côte de Granite Rose ( The Pink Granite Coast ) are formed as the name suggests by rose tinted rocks beaten by the sea into fantastic shapes.
The wild headland of Finistère looks out to where the Atlantic meets the Channel. Brest with its fine natural harbour is the beginning of the west coast of Brittany where the Atlantic is warmed by the Gulf Stream and stretches down to the Morbihan in the south. Good beaches and resorts.
Inland Brittany has a very different landscape. Valleys, forest, pastureland and a network of rivers and canals. There are scattered farms and delightful villages, the fields marked out by hedgerows forming distinctive patterns, connected by a cobweb of quiet country lanes.

Food

Excellent fresh fish, fruit-de-mer, oysters, clams cooked in cider and coquilles St Jacques along the coast. Savory and sweet galettes or crepes made from buckwheat flour and stuffed with a variety of fillings. The shops and markets offer an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables (artichokes, aparagus), a great variety of salads, cherries, strawberries, melons, peaches, plums. Lamb, beef, pork, game, fresh water fish, poultry and cheeses figure on most menus with wines from all over France. It is also possible to buy honey, fresh eggs and milk directly from local farms.

Activities

Sailing, windsurfing, sandsurfing. swimming, fishing (both sea and freshwater), golf, boating, riding, walking, cycling. Excellent facilities and activities for children. Quimper is famous for its colourful pottery and embroideries. There are many artisans producing among other things, glass and stained glass, sculpture and wood carvings.

Climate

Brittany has a typical maritime climate with warm summers and mild winters. Average summer temperatures of around 21º c - 27º c (70° f - 80º f) with winter temperatures rarely falling below freezing, especially in the Morbihan in Southern Brittany, thanks to the Gulf Stream.

Travel

By Air
Several International and European airlines operate services to Paris where you can connect to flights to the regional airports of Brest, Nantes, Quimper, Lorient and Rennes. There are also budget flights from the UK direct to Dinard, Brest, Rennes, Lorient and Nantes.

By Road
Ferry ports at Caen, Roscoff, St Malo and Cherbourg. The drive from Calais to Rennes is about 520 km.

By Train
The TGV network links Brittany to Paris. From Gare Montparnasse the route goes via Vitré to Rennes from where there are two lines, one to Brest via Lamballe, Saint-Brieuc, Guingamp, Plouaret and Morlaix and one to Quimper via Vannes and Lorient. Paris to Rennes takes about 2 hours and Paris to Brest and Quimper both take about 4.5 hours.


 
 
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