If visiting France, Brittany is one of the best destinations to take in as part of a holiday. Easy to reach from the UK by ferry, car, plane, and train, Brittany is in the Northwest of France, and is defined by the Atlantic Ocean and the region’s long seafaring and fishing traditions. Brittany is one of the most historic regions in France, and has a mild climate that makes it ideal for cottage holidays and camping. It’s worth looking at Brittany’s regions, major cities, key sights, and cuisine in a bit more detail.
Brittany is roughly divided into the Cotes d’Amour, Finistere, Ille-et Vilaine, and Morbihan. The Cotes d’Amour is distinguished by its ports, small cottages and gites, and by its wide range of fresh seafood. Finistere, by comparison, is to the far West of Brittany, and has a similar climate to Cornwall in the United Kingdom - it is also a region where the older language of Breton is still common. The Ile-et-Vilaine region is home to Saint-Malo and Rennes, as well as forests like the Broceliande. Finally, Morbihan is defined by the town of Lorient, and by its natural wildlife and ferry ports.
Visitors to Brittany tend to focus on a few key cities - these include Lorient and Rennes. Lorient is a seaport, and an excellent place from which to explore the rest of the region; it’s also home to a WWII submarine base, and holds a Celtic music festival every year. Rennes, by comparison, is the capital of Brittany, and its administrative centre. Divided into 11 cantons, Rennes is home to 17th century architecture, a Fine Arts Museum, and 17th century chateaus.
Those exploring Brittany have a lot of choice when it comes to beaches and historic sights - the latter includes megalithic stones at Carnac, and the island Mont Saint Michel, which is just over the border with Normandy. Brittany is also ideal for walking and hiking, with Morbihan particularly recommended. Other sights include the Fort La Lette, the Parc Animalier et Botanique de Branfere, and the Jardin Exotique in Roscoff. You can also visit the Port Museum in Douarnenez, and the Basilique St-Sauveur in Dinan.
Brittany is perhaps France’s best region for seafood, most of which can be found around its coastal towns and villages. Particularly impressive dishes include Coquilles Saint Jacques, as well as oysters, and crepes and galettes. Crabs are a specialty of the Western part of Brittany, with other dishes including the more general French favourite mouules-frites, scallops, lobster, Gigot d’Agneau, or leg of lamb, and Cotriade Bretonne fish stews. Brittany is also known for its excellent cider, rather than for its wines.
Country cottages and gites are particularly recommended if you want family accommodation - detached cottages and gites can be found throughout Brittany, as can villas within towns like Dinard. In South Brittany and Moribhan, it’s possible to rent out country homes and farmhouses, while also taking advantage of chateaux and apartment buildings in larger cities like Rennes.
Chris G is a part-time travel writer who is coming to the end of a tour of France he's been having - a rare experience indeed. Staying in a charming Brittany cottage was one of his most memoryable experiences - one which he hopes to be able to repeat soon.