Bretagne

Travel Guide Europe France Bretagne

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Introduction

Phare de Benodet

Phare de Benodet

© danedmunds

Bretagne (Brittany) is the far west region of France and borders Pays de la Loire to the east and a very small part of Basse-Normande to the northeast. The old Breton language is Celtic and in the same group as Welsh and Cornish. Its departments are Finistère, Côtes d'Armor, Ille et Vilaine and Morbihan.
Historical Brittany also includes Loire Atlantique with Nantes, former capital of Ducs de Bretagne. Since 1969, Loire Atlantique has been attached to Pays de la Loire administrative region.

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Geography

Bretagne is a peninsula most of which is washed by the Atlantic and by The Channel. It has no high mountains and most visitors keep to the coast, although the charms of inland Huelgoat are increasingly being recognised.

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Cities, towns and villages

Côtes d'Armor

  • Dinan - quaint town up river from Saint Malo.
  • Guingamp - inland town close to the northern coast
  • Lannion - a very nice city close to the Pink Granite Coast.
  • Perros-Guirec - a very atttractive little town on the 'Pink Granite Coast.
  • Saint-Brieuc - a nice coastal town with a beautiful bay and superb surroundings.

Finistère

  • Brest - city in the extreme west of Bretagne, rebuilt after World War II
  • Concarneau - lovely fortified harbour, crowded in summer
  • Douarnenez - harbour known for its fish canneries
  • Huelgoat - delightful inland village with fine woodland walks.
  • Le Guilvinec - fishing port - almost messy but enormously atmospheric with great food from the sea.
  • Locronan - very nice old time village
  • Morlaix - charmful city with a roman viaduct.
  • Quimper - beautiful Gothic and semi-timbered houses in cobbled lanes, and a cathedral as well
  • Roscoff - small but attractive port to the west side of the north coast.

Ille et Vilaine

  • Cancale - Harbour on Emerald coast, famous for oysters
  • Dol de Bretagne - a wonderful photogenic village with stone houses and oversized church.
  • Fougères - ancient city at the east border with an old fortress
  • Redon - small town located at the confluent of rivers Oust and Vilaine
  • Rennes - the capital, inland to the east.
  • Saint-Malo - walled and picturesque town on the north coast.
  • Vitré - still a very nice old city with a medieval castle

Morbihan

  • Auray - lovely town crossed by a small coastal river which opens into the Gulf of Morbihan
  • Lorient - economically dynamic city, also rebuilt after World War II
  • Quiberon - harbour ​​at the southern end of the peninsula of the same name
  • Vannes - beautiful ancient town

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Sights and Activities

Phare de Le Coq

Phare de Le Coq

© danedmunds

  • Carnac - a wealth of stone rows and other prehistoric remains.
  • Forest of Huelgoat - great walks including a rock chaos and an earthwork claiming to be a camp of King Arthur!
  • Quimper Cathedral
  • Nantes-Brest Canal
  • Menhirs and Dolmens - Brittany has a large number of megaliths, which simply means "big rocks". These menhirs (standing stones) and dolmens (stone tables) were sites for burials and worship. See some magnificent examples at the bay of Morlaix and the gulf of Morbihan. Museums at Vannes and Carnac detail the archaeological finds made at these sites.
  • Gardens - Brittany has exceptionally beautiful gardens.

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

The weather in Bretagne can be better compared to that of England than that of France. It has a typical maritime climate with relatively cool summers and mild wet winters. Temperatures during winter are mostly above zero, even at night. Summers are mostly around 20 °C or a little more. Inland is warmer though, and somewhat colder during winter.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are international airports in Rennes, Brest and St Malo with flights to and from the UK. There are national airports in Lorient and Quimper whose main destinations are Paris and Lyon (for Lorient).

By Train

There are two main railways, one north and one south of the peninsula, both connected to Rennes. From Rennes, there are regular links to Paris by TGV (about every 2 hours). The journey takes 2 hours. The northern branch goes through St Brieuc, Morlaix and onwards to Brest. The southern branch goes through Redon, Vannes, Lorient and Quimper. A map of the TER (regional railway) can be found here on the SNCF website.

By Car

There is an extensive road network, with main motorways and national roads connecting the peninsula to the rest of the country. Routes can be checked on the viamichelin.com website.
Note there is no toll on motorways in whole Brittany

By Boat

Lesconil Harbour

Lesconil Harbour

© danedmunds

Ireland

United Kingdom

Jersey and Guernsey

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Getting Around

By Train

Trains are an easy way to visit Brittany, except for the center of the peninsula. There is no difference between TGV high-speed train and regional trains (TER) in Brittany: both run at the same speed, and regional trains are usually cheaper and as comfortable as TGVs.

By Car

In Brittany, all roads are free (no tolls).

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Eat

Pointe de Combrit

Pointe de Combrit

© danedmunds

Bretagne is known in France for several culinary specialties, mostly cakes and bakery, such as crêpes (pancakes), kouign amann (a famous cake, made with a lot of butter and sugar), far breton (a pastry with prunes) or palet breton (dry cake), but also other traditional dishes, such as Kig Ha Farz (meat dish cooked with vegetables and buckwheat semolina) or, of course, sea food.

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Drink

  • Cider (cidre) - Like Normandy, Brittany is cider country. Much like wine, cider comes in different varieties that are intended for different purposes, so you should pay attention to the following words on the label. Doux indicates a sweet cider, with a strong apple flavour and low alcohol percentage (3% or below), that is best drunk with dessert or by itself. Demi-sec / brut is sharper and fresher, with an alcohol content of between three and five percent. This kind of cider is more common as an apéritif, or as an accompaniment to local cuisine, especially seafood. Unlike in certain other countries, notably the United States, cider in Brittany is always alcoholic and always sparkling (pétillant).
  • Perry (poiré) - Similar to cider, but made from pears. Production is considerably limited compared to its apple-based counterpart.
  • Chouchen - Breton mead, a sweet alcohol made from fermented honey, water and yeast
  • Beer - there is a great variety (some of them are made with sea water)
  • Whisky - There are Breton whiskies. Nevertheless, there are better ones in the Gaelic world...
  • Kir Breton - the local adaptation of the kir. You pour Breton cider instead of white wine, preferably from the Rance valley. (Kir, for those uninitiated, is blackcurrant liqueur and white wine.)

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Bretagne Travel Helpers

This is version 79. Last edited at 15:17 on Mar 5, 19 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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