Brittany is the westernmost region of France and has 3000km of coastline. The west coast is characterised by dramatic cliffs and rock formations, the north by attractive coves and tiny harbours. To the south there are wide esturaries and long sandy beaches.
The peninsular of Brittany on the far north west coast of France is a region defined not only by its geography but by its people, their traditions and their ancient celtic heritage. The Breton language is still widely spoken and its origin is closer to the celtic languages of their Cornish, Welsh and Irish cousins.
Like many people living near the sea the Bretons have developed a culture rich in myth and legend, music and folk art. You can walk through the magical forest of Broceliande, home of Merlin, where King Arthur and his Knights came on their search for the Holy Grail. Or visit the forest of Huelgoat with its mysterious giant rocks, its grottos and streams and its tales of giants and goblins. Other legends include the story of Tristram and Iseult (Tristan and Isolde) which inspired Wagner's opera.
This Breton belief in legend combined with Christianity to produce a profound reverence for the saints and the famous 'pardons', religious festivals with processions, mostly take place between May and September. It is during these processions that you may have the chance to see some of the great variety of richly embroidered local costumes. The pardons are celebrated with much dancing and music using traditional instruments such as the celtic harp, Breton bagpipes, drums and flutes.
The Cote d'Emeraude (Emerald Coast) runs west along the north coast of Brittany from Mont Saint-Michel, the vast cathedral dedicated to the Archangel Michael built on a rock that can only be reached at low tide. There are a number of harbour towns and fine beaches from St. Malo and Dinard to St.-Brieuc, all linked by a coastal road. Take time to visit Dinan a little inland from St. Malo, which lies at the mouth of the River Rance. Its old town, cobbled streets and city walls give it an old world air and there are many good restaurants.
Further along, the coves and inlets of the Cote de Granite Rose ( The Pink Granite Coast ) are formed as the name suggests by rose tinted rocks beaten by the sea into fantastic shapes.
The wild headland of Finistere looks out to where the Atlantic meets the Channel. Brest with its fine natural harbour is the beginning of the west coast of Brittany where the Atlantic is warmed by the Gulf Stream and stretches down to the Cote d'Armour at the Mouth of the Loire. Good beaches and resorts.
Inland Brittany has a very different landscape. Valleys, forest, heathland and a network of rivers and canals. There are scattered farms and villages, the fields marked out by hedgerows forming distinctive patterns, connected by a cobweb of lanes.
Excellent fresh fish, fruit-de-mer, coquilles St. Jacques along the coast. Savory and sweet galettes or crepes made from buckwheat flour and stuffed with a variety of fillings. Agriculture is a major industry and the markets offer an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and cheese. It is possible to buy honey, eggs and milk directly from the farms.
Sailing, windsurfing, swimming, fishing (both sea and freshwater), golf, canal boating, riding, walking, cycling. Excellent facilities and activities for children. Quimper is famous for its colourful pottery and embroideries.
There are many artisans producing among other things, glass and stained glass, sculpture, and wood carvings.
Brittany has a typical maritime climate with warm summers and mild winters. Average summer temperatures of around 21º c - 27º c (70° f -80º f) with winter temperatures rarely falling below freezing especially in the south of the region.