Brittany is quite unlike other parts of France and was actually independent of France until the 1500s. Both in 2015 and 2016 we spent a wonder-full month there and plan to return in 2017. Why should you visit? Here are nine reasons for exploring this magical corner on the edge of Europe.
The sea – the crashing of waves, white sand, rocky inlets, estuaries are probably the first things one associates with Brittany.
A feeling of age, and mystery, permeates the well-known sites at Carnac, but megaliths, standing stones, and barrows which are thousands of years old can be found all over Brittany.
There are interesting and beautiful gardens in which you can wander, and then linger in the café, such as the Parc Botanique de Haute Bretagne, the Thabor Gardens in Rennes, and the Exotic Gardens in Roscoff.
The Parish Enclosures, the Enclos Paroissiaux, are unique to Brittany and a fascinating reminder of the wealth of the region in the 16C and 17C, created by the trade in flax, canvas, and linen. There are the ‘great enclosures’ in the Élorn Valley (St Thégonnec, Guimiliau, Lampaul-Guimiliau, and so on), but there are also the hidden gems.
The soaring Cathedrals in Rennes, Quimper (St Corentin), and Dol de Bretagne (St Samson) are buildings which I have explored, on sites which date back 1500 years. But there are more cathedrals, originally founded as the original Bishoprics when Brittany was first evangelised by monks from Cornwall and Wales: St-Brieuc, St Malo, St Patern, St Paul in Nantes, and St Tugdal in Treguier.
Historic towns like Dounarnenez, Locronan, Landerneau, and Rennes tempt you to wander and explore.
The Food. There are endless creperies and restaurants but the real joy is to explore the markets and cook at home!
And above all there is the countryside which is easily accessible – hills, valleys, hidden green lanes, and moorlands.