The Brittany region of France
Brittany, or Bretagne in French and Breiz in Breton, is a peninsula projecting into the Atlantic Ocean, bordered on the north by the English Channel and on the south by the Bay of Biscay. It can be reached by ferry, or by air to Rennes, Dinard-Pleurtiut-Saint-Malo and Quimper-Plugaffan airports. Rail services go to many Breton towns.
Brittany did not become part of France until 1547 and it has a distinctive Breton culture, language and heritage closely related to those of Scotland, Cornwall and Ireland. Although the official language is French, Breton and Gallo are still spoken in some rural areas.
The capital city of Brittany is Rennes, about 190 miles southwest of Paris and an agricultural market and industrial centre. The Paimpont Forest lies forty kilometres south of Rennes, and according to Arthurian legend, this is where King Arthur received the sword Excalibur.
Brittany’s long, jagged coastline is its main attraction, strewn with lighthouses, rocky coves, windswept heaths, sheltered beaches and seaside villages. There are magnificent beaches along its northern shore, interspersed with seaside resorts and fishing ports. The south coast has wooded river valleys and a milder climate, while the west, being exposed to Atlantic winds, has a drama that justifies the name Finistère - the end of the earth. Inland is the Argoat, a patchwork of undulating fields, woods and rolling moorland. The Parc Régional d'Armorique occupies much of central Finistère.
Brittany is the most popular summer resort area in France after the Cote d’Azur. It has unspoilt white sandy beaches and soaring cliffs attracting thousands of tourists every year. Some of the finest beaches are at Carnac, Quiberon, Saint Malo and Dinard. Carnac is also to some of the world’s most important megalithic sites. The purpose of the monuments is unknown.
Brittany is also known for the calvaires - elaborately carved sculptures of crucifixion scenes found in churchyards of villages and small towns, especially in Western Brittany.
An important attraction is the walled city of Saint –Malo, which links with the UK and Channel Islands. Some white wine is produced near the Loire but the traditional drinks of Brittany are cider, mead and an apple brandy called lambic.
Thin and wide pancake called galettes are eaten with ham, eggs and other savoury fillings. Crepes are often eaten for dessert. Other pastries such as kouign amann - butter cake - made from bread dough, butter and sugar, or far, a sort of sweet Yorkshire pudding and clafoutis with prunes, are traditional. Being surrounded by the sea, Brittany can also offer a wide range of fresh sea food and fish.
Brittany is a fascinating mix of spectacular coastline, ancient towns, magical islands and inland woods. It is rich in culture, tradition and history.