Map of Brittany
The coast at Quiberon, Brittany
Place de la République in Rennes, Brittany
Boats in the harbour at St Malo, Brittany
Brittany (French: Bretagne, Breton: Breizh; ) is a diverse region of northwestern France.
The region is subdivided into four administrative départements:
- 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
- Pays de Montfort - Natural and hiking destination between Rennes and the forest of Brocéliande
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.
The people of Brittany all speak French, many speak the regional Breton language Breton, but many speak English very well too. 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 their 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)
- Lannion (Airlinair flight from Paris Orly)
- 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, Quimper and Saint-Malo.
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.
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.
- Artichaut (ateliers et galerie), Keranheroff, 29690 La Feuillee (Leave La Feuillee on the Berrien road, take the right hand turn by the stone cross), ☎ 02 98 99 06 91, . 1000 - 1400, 1200 - 1800, Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Artichaut offers art and craft classes for all ages, from pottery to feltmaking. Suitable for residents and also holidaymakers, for short sessions or all day courses. Artichaut is also a gallery showing small pieces by Tim and Amanda Bates and other artists. Courses from 6euros per 2hr session to 45euros for full day adult class.
- 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. You pour Breton cider instead of white wine, preferably from the Rance valley. (Kir, for those uninitiated, is blackcurrent liqueur and white wine,)
When swimming in the sea, watch out for rips and undercurrents. Be mindful that the tide can come at a very fast pace so watch out or you might be stranded on an outlying island! Check the tides (marées) in your local tourist office. Ask for a table of the tides.
- Mont Saint Michel - 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!