Brittany Travel Guide
Wherever you wander in Brittany—along jagged coastal cliffs, through cobbled seaport streets, into burnished-oak cider pubs—you’ll hear the primal pulse of Celtic music. Made up of bagpipes, drums, and the thin, haunting filigree of a tin-whistle tune, these folkloric notes tell you that you are in the land of the Bretons, where Celtic bloodlines run deep as a druid’s roots into the rocky, sea-swept soil.
It’s useful to know that Brittany is divided into two nearly equal parts—Upper Brittany, along the Channel coast, and Lower Brittany. The latter (called in French Basse-Bretagne or Bretagne Bretonnante) is, generally speaking, the more interesting. But the Channel coast of Upper Brittany has its share of marvels. The rolling farmland around Rennes is strewn with mighty castles, such as the one in Vitré—remnants of Brittany’s ceaseless efforts to repel invaders during the Middle Ages and a testimony to the wealth derived from pirate and merchant ships. The beautiful Côte d’Émeraude (Emerald Coast) stretches west from Cancale to St-Brieuc, and the dramatic Côte de Granit Rose (Pink Granite Coast) extends from Paimpol to Trébeurden and the Corniche Bretonne. Follow the coastal routes D786 and D34—winding, narrow roads that total less than 100 km (62 mi) but can take five hours to drive; the spectacular views that unfold en route make the journey worthwhile.
Brittany Restaurant Reviews
Brittany is a land of the sea. Surrounded on three sides by water, it’s a veritable trove of fish and shellfish. These aquatic delights, not surprisingly, dominate Breton cuisine, but crêpes, lamb, and butter also play starring roles.
Maritime headliners include coquilles St-Jacques (scallops); langoustines, which are something between a large shrimp and a lobster; and oysters, prized for their balance of briny and sweet. Perhaps the most famous regional seafood dishes are homard à l’armoricaine, lobster with cream, and cotriade, fish soup with potatoes, onions, garlic, and butter.
Beyond the sea, the lamb that hails from the farms on the little island of Ouessant, off the coast of Brest, is well known. Called pré-salé, or “salt meadow,” they feed on sea-salted grass, which tenderizes their meat while their hearts are still pumping. Try the regional ragout de mouton and you can taste the difference. Of all its culinary treasures, however, Brittany is best known as home of the humble crêpe—a large, delicate pancake served warm with a variety of sweet or savory fillings.
Brittany Hotel Reviews
Outside the main cities (Rennes and Nantes), Brittany has plenty of small, appealing family-run hotels which cater essentially to seasonal visitors.
Note that many close for one or several months between October and March.
Booking ahead is strongly advised for the Easter period.
In addition, this is the case during the midsummer period, when it is routine for prices to be ratcheted up by 30% to 50%.
For luxury hotels Dinard, on the English Channel, and La Baule, on the Atlantic, are the area’s two most expensive resorts.
Assume that all hotel rooms have TV, telephones, and private bath, unless otherwise noted.