Map of Brittany
Brittany (French: Bretagne, Breton: Breizh; ) is a diverse region of northwestern France.
The region is subdivided into four administrative départements:
- Mont Saint Michel - actually in Normandie, but very close to the Brittany border; monastery and town built on a tiny outcrop of rock in the sand, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide. It is one of France's major tourist destinations, and as such gets very busy in high season. Check the times of the tides before you visit!
- Carnac - the megalithic menhirs - stones erected by the prehistoric peoples of Brittany
- Lac de Guerledan - artificial lake created by EDF, a scenic highlight of interior Brittany
- Cote d'Emeraude - verdant rocky coast stretching from St Malo to St Brieuc - bustling resorts, charming fishing villages
Anglo-Norman islands (British Crown dependencies):
Brittany received its modern name when it was settled (in around 500 AD) by Britons, whom the Anglo-Saxons had driven from Britain. Breton history is one long struggle for independence — first from the Franks (5th-9th century), then the Counts of Anjou and the Dukes of Normandy (10th-12th century), and finally from England and France.
The Breton people maintain a fierce sense of independence to this day, as displayed by their local customs and traditions.
In the past 5 years or so a resurgence of the regional identity has happened in France. Breton art, music and culture are recognized across the nation. France has now accepted that in diversity lies strength and unity.
The people of Brittany all speak French, many speak the regional Breton language Breton, and many speak English very well. While France tried to discourage the use of regional languages their use is rebounding, bringing a stronger understanding of culture, contributions, and history. Through the local efforts of the Bretons and the DIWAN Breton Language schools, children are being tought in the native language while they learn standard curriculum. The DIWAN schools are supported by world wide efforts through various groups, including the International Committee for the Defense of the Breton Language.
Jersey and Guernsey to St Malo
Cork to Roscoff
Plymouth to Roscoff and Portsmouth to St Malo
Brittany Ferries operates the following regular services:
- Plymouth-Roscoff (Pont-L'Abbé, Pont-Aven, certain winter sailings operated by Bretagne)
- Poole-Cherbourg (Barfleur, Coutances, Normandie Vitesse (BF trading name for Condor Vitesse)
- Portsmouth-St Malo (Bretagne with winter service operated by Pont-Aven)
- Portsmouth-Ouistreham (Caen) (Mont St Michel, Normandie, Normandie Express, refit cover provided by Bretagne)
- Roscoff-Cork (Pont-Aven, occasionally Bretagne)
There are airports in:
- Brest (Ryanair flight from London Luton and Dublin, Flybe from Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester, Southampton)
- Dinard (Ryanair flight from London Stansted, and Luton in summer)
- Rennes (flights from Paris and some other French towns, mainly with Air France)
- Saint-Brieuc (Channel island flights)
The TGV train runs almost hourly from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes, Brest and Quimper.
The A11, the Océane Route, links Brittany to Paris. A dual carriageway runs from Rennes to Nantes, and there is a motorway from Nantes to Bordeaux.
All roads in Brittany are free! No peages.
France Car Hireis a great way of getting around if you are on a budget.
SNCF offers bus services from all major rail stations in Brittany.
In Brittany, all roads are free (no tolls).
- 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 archaeolgical finds made at these sites.
- Kig ha farz - meat and stuffing
- Coquilles Saint-Jacques
- Crêpes and galettes (crêpes made from buckwheat flour) are among the regional specialties
- Tourteaux (large crabs) and spider crabs
- Far breton - cake made with prunes
- Kouign amann - butter cake, served lukewarm
- Chouchen - Breton mead, a sweet alcohol made from fermented honey, water and yeast
- Cider - alcoholic drink made from fermented apples. Very good ciders are also found in Normandy
- 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. Instead of white wine you pour breton cider. Preferably from the Rance valley. (kir for those uninitiated is blackcurrent liqueur and white wine)
When swimming in sea watch out for rips and undercurrents. Be mindful that the tide can come at a very fast pace. Don't be stranded on an outlying island! Check the tides (marees) in your local tourist office. Ask for a tide table.