About Time: You Discovered the Beauty of BrittanyBy Suzi Malin
If you’ve always overlooked Brittany as a potential holiday destination, you’re certainly not the only one. In fact, it’s largely the norm for Brits to completely ignore what’s right there on their doorstep setting their sights instead on destinations further afield. But it goes without saying that once the true wonders of holidays in Brittany have been discovered (note: for holidays to Brittany it’s well worth visiting Brittany Ferries website), it’s hard not to feel you’ve been missing out on something quite spectacular.
Without any shadow of doubt, the most spectacular of Brittany’s assets from a visitor’s perspective can be found along the region’s beautiful coastline. Everything about Brittany simply encapsulates the idyllic French seaside experience – dramatic cliffs, unspoilt beaches, gleaming blue seas and picturesque fishing villages. You really only need to make your way into a single seaside resort here to fully understand why it is considered by many to be the French equivalent of Cornwall – the similarities in certain places are borderline uncanny.
Head a little further inland and you’ll find the seaside scenery giving way to the most gorgeous countryside France has to offer. This spectacular landscape is dotted with quaint villages and historic towns just waiting to be discovered, along with medieval castles and important archaeological sites at every stop. All of this, topped off with the warmest of welcomes and the feeling that you’ve genuinely stumbled across something quite spectacular that might just have been a hidden secret.
The Cuisine of Brittany
You don’t have to be a fanatical foodie to get a kick out of the cuisine of Brittany. Suffice to say that if you are, you’ll be in seven levels of Heaven from the moment you arrive. Sweet and savoury pancakes represent the quick and filling snacks that are perfect for any time of day, while a wedge of the buttery sticky cake called Kouign Amman is not to be missed. Roscoff serves up some of the best lobsters in the world, while a local fish stew by the name of Cotriade Bretonne brings together the best of the ocean’s produce.
Another incredible local delicacy is a dish that sees chicken cooked slowly in cider (Poulet au Cidre Breton), while each and every steaming pot of mussels you come across will most likely blow your mind. The local lamb is also outstanding and cooked up in a multitude of ways, while the creamy scallops dish called Coquille St Jacques must make it to your chosen menu before departing Brittany.
As for what you should be washing it all down with, one interesting fact about Brittany is that the region doesn’t in fact produce its own wine. As such, the locals tend to turn to the nearby Loire Valley to the west – a region known the world over for producing the best wines in all of France. That being said, Brittany is just as famous for its cider production, which is available in just as many different guises and strength as quality wine. From sweet to dry to still to carbonated, don’t be afraid to ask for the waiter’s recommended cider pairings.
You’d need several weeks or even months to explore all Brittany has to offer, but it’s nonetheless possible to take in the best of the region during a short visit.
Specific highlights not to be missed include:
Armorique Regional Natural Park
A land of magic, fairy-tales and all things mythical that’s a guaranteed hit for the whole family. Explore the fabled cave where Arthur is said to have hidden treasure, wander hills that have been around for longer than the Alps themselves and take a stroll to the top of Mont Saint-Michel de Brasparts. If your nerve holds, you could also consider visiting the Elez Yeun marshland, which legend has it represents one of Earth’s gates to hell!
Château de Fougères
Château de Fougères is one of the biggest fortresses in Europe and not to be missed during a trip to Brittany. Watch the chateau and the region as a whole come to life around you, as the tale it told of a time when the castle played a pivotal role defending the Duchy of Brittany.
When the weather is at its best, this stunning little peninsula deserves full exploration. Boasting the most incredible views, an abundance of hidden coves and all the watersports you could ever wish for, it’s simply unbeatable for a day or two on the sands.
Quiberon Grande Plage
And of course, the same has to be said for the Grande Plage at Quiberon, which is one of the region’s most popular beaches from the late spring to the early autumn. Bursting with outstanding amenities, it has wonderful family days out written all over it.