La Bretagne

brittanymap

 

A land of legends and mysteries, Brittany is a fascinating mix of spectacular coastline, ancient towns, magical islands and inland woods. Nearly an independent Duchy until the XVth century, it became part of France in 1532 when the Edict bringing it under its jurisdiction was signed. It draws its name from the inhabitants of the Isle of Britain who, in the 5th century, migrated en masse to Armorica.

The Mecca of the Chouans upheaval at the time of the French Revolution, Brittany is now famous for its menhirs, its wild coastline, its folklore and its musical traditions as well as for its many fishing-ports. All this makes of Brittany a favourite destination for both French and foreign tourists, where they can enjoy seafood, starting with some Brittany oysters.

French is the official language. There are two regional languages in Brittany, supported by the regional authorities within the constitutional limits: Breton, strongest in the west but to be seen all over Brittany, is a Celtic language most closely related to Cornish and Welsh. Gallo, which is spoken in the east, is one of the romance Langues d'oïl.

 

Brittany has a population of about 4,365,500 people and is composed of 4 regions:

Côtes-d'Armor (22). Capital: St Brieuc
Côtes-d'Armor lies on the Northern coast of Brittany, it has a a beautiful rugged coastline with steep cliffs and is dotted with quaint, medieval towns.
Dinan which sits on the river Rance is well worth a visit if you like ancient castles, and fans of Breton music should head for St. Brieuc in September for the music festival. The Côtes d’Armor is the largest European producer of scallops so it's well worth sampling the fresh shellfish.
If you like walking, Trestraou makes a good starting point for a hike.

For some lovely coastline head to Perros Guirec, a town on the famous 'Pink Granite Coast' (see picture below).

Perros guirec

 

 

Finistère (29). Capital: Quimper
Finistère is the region Brittany's west coast. Its attractions include the Oceanopolis in Brest which is a huge marine theme park. Nature lovers could also explore the island of Ouessant which lies a few kilometres from the mainlaind, and the Molène archipelago, rich in wildlife including colonies of grey seals, dolphins and numerous seabirds.
Roscoff with its sandy beaches (see below), 19th century merchants’ houses, narrow alleys and the church of Notre Dame de Croatz is worth a visit and boat trips run to the Ile de Batz, a tiny offshore island.
Suggested places to visit include the Océanopolis in Brest, the windy Ile d'Ouessant, Roscoff and Quimper, famous for its pottery and fine gothic cathedral and the islands such as Ile de Batz, Ile de Sein or Ile d’Ouessant.

roscoff

 

 

Ille-et-Vilaine (35). Capital: Rennes

Ille-et-Vilaine is the region in the East of Brittany bordering with Normandy. The emerald coast stretches from the bay of Mont St Michel to St Briac sur Mer linking the ports of Cancale, St Malo and Dinard.

The old walled town of St Malo (see below) is one of the France's great attractions, its rampart walls hide a charming town known for good restaurants and pavement cafés. There is quite a lot to see in St. Malo alone and you can walk along the ramparts and walk on the sand when the tide is out.

The regional capital, Rennes has an elegant old quarter with a huge Saturday market, enjoy superb oysters from Cancale and the excellent golf in Dinard.

st malo

 

 

Morbihan (56). Capital: Vannes

Morbihan is the region in the South of Brittany.
The huge number of menhirs and dolmen in this area make the département one of the most impressive megalithic sites in the world – said to more than match Stonehenge (see below).

Vannes with its ramparts, half timbered houses and cathedral quarter still preserves its pleasant medieval character.

Auray is very pretty, with narrow lanes, the port of St Goustan, the renaissance church of St Gildas and the square in front of the Hôtel de Ville.

penhap dolmens

 

 

The region lists 5 “most beautiful villages of France” which are:

 

Le Faou (Finistère) Le Faou

 

 

 

 

 

Locronan (Finistère) locronan

 

 

Moncontour (Côtes-d'Armor) moncontour

 

 

 

Rochefort-en -Terre (Morbihan) rochefort

 

 

 

Saint-Sulian (Ille et Vilaine) st sulian

 

 

 

In Rennes you will find one of the largest markets in France held each Saturday, however it is likely that there will be a market every day of the week in each region.

The main ones are:

Becherel (35) - Saturday Morning - There is also a book market at Becherel on the first Sunday of the month

Callac (22) - All day Wednesday

Cancale (35) - Sunday Morning (famous for oysters)

Carnac (56) All day Sunday and Wednesday

Josselin (56) - Saturday Morning (famous for seafood and vegetables)

La Trinite-sur-Mer (56) - All day Friday

Le Faouet (56) - All day Wednesday - 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month

Montcontour (22) - All day Monday

Mur de Bretagne (22) - Friday Evening - July and August only

Pontivy (56) - All day Monday

Quiberon (56) - Al day Saturday

Quimper (29) - Saturday and Sunday Mornings, All day Wednesday - There is also an Organic Produce Market on Friday Afternoon

Saint-Brieuc (22) - All day Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday

Saint-Malo (35) - Friday and Tuesday Mornings

Vannes (56) - Saturday and Wendnesday Mornings

 

Traditional Events:


With its colourful history and unique sense of identity, Brittany abounds with traditional festivals and carnivals, particularly during the summer months.
Many of these occasions are religious in origin, while others celebrate the medieval past or Celtic culture that this fascinating region of France is so very rich in.

Below is a selection of some popular festivals and events in Brittany:

Dinan: Medieval days come vividly to life during Dinan’s spectacular Fête des Remparts held every second year in July. This is probably the largest celebration of medieval culture in Europe, and includes exhibitions of jousting, drama, dance, music and ancient crafts. The culmination of the weekend's events are a jousting competition and a parade of all the costumed participants through the town.

fete remparts



Dinan hosts the annual International Celtic Harp Festival in July each year which sees masterclasses, concerts & international meetings focusing on the celtic harp.

dinan harpe


Quimper: Held over nine days at the end of every July and featuring a huge gathering of Celtic artists, musicians and dancers from all over Europe, Festival de Cornouaille is almost certainly the region’s largest folk festival. As the most overtly Celtic city in Brittany, Quimper is one of the very best places to see regional costumes, and to listen to both popular and traditional Breton music.

festivalcournouaille

 

 

Rennes: Brittany’s capital city really gets in party mood at the beginning of each July with its Tombées de la Nuit, a spectacular street festival celebrating theatre, music, poetry and dance.

rennesnuit

Photo courtesy of Yann Pinczon du Sel


Concarneau: Concarneau is France’s largest fishing harbour, and the town’s Fête des Filets Bleus (Festival of Blue Nets) held in mid-August began life in 1905 as a fund raising exercise for distressed families of local fishermen. These days it is a traditional Breton festivity recalling the fishing, culture and music of the region. Celebrations include, naturally enough, grand scale dining on seafood and much singing of Breton seafaring songs. Matters end in style with a huge fete, which every year attracts around 25,000 visitors.

filetsbleus


 

Brest: Held every four years since 1992, the Brest Maritime Festival has rapidly grown into a truly spectacular affair. In mid-July 2004 it attracted over 2,000 traditional sailing craft and tall ships from seafaring nations all over the world. In addition to a wealth of maritime heritage, music and other forms of entertainment from these countries also featured heavily, as did many fine replicas of the world’s historic vessels. Full-scale festivities usually cover six days, and include firework displays and concerts every evening.

brestmaritimefestival

 

 

 

Local Specialties:

Crêpes, whether only with sugar, savoury or the flambéed crêpes Suzette way, they are traditionally best enjoyed with cider.

Here, we'll give you the traditional recipe:

Crêpes

Ingredients

for about 12 crêpes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preparation:

crepes

Sift together flour, sugar and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk together with an electric mixer.

Beat in flour mixture until smooth; stir in melted butter.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.

Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 2 tablespoons for each crepe.

Tip and rotate pan to spread batter as thinly as possible. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Ingredients for 24 Madeleines.
4 eggs
3/4 cup caster, superfine, sugar
1 1/4 cup plain, all purpose, flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
180g (6oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 200oC (390oF).
Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat for 8-10 minutes, until very pale and thick.
Sift the flour and bakning powder over the mixture and continue to beat at low speed until smooth.
Add the melted and cooled butter until well combined.
Butter two Madeleines baking trays with 12 x 1 1/2 tablespoon capacity holes.
Spoon in the mixture and bake for 8 to 10  minutes, until risen and golden.

Note: you can add vanilla extract or melted dark chocolate to the mixture eggs/sugar mixture before adding the flour.

Madeleines de Bretagne

madeleines de bretagne

 

 

 

Chouchen, a local aperitif which is made from apples. A form of mead, it is made from the fermentation of honey in water. Chouchen normally contains 14% alcohol by volume.

chouchen

You might be amused by the Andouille de Guéméné (sausages made from chitterlings) served either hot or cold in many Breton restaurants.

andouille

 

Another local delight, the Breton Far (a prune flan) is similar in composition to a clafoutis batter.

far breton

To try: the Muscadet from Nantes and a brandy from the Rhuys peninsula.

Table linen:

The toiles Basques are brightly coloured woven fabrics from the Pyrenees area.
These thick fabrics (canvas) are traditionally used for table linen (cotton or coated), canvas shoes, deck chairs and many soft furnishing items.
However, their origin is quite different: they were originally made to cover working oxes to protect them against the bothering flies during the summer months !
The designs always include 7 different stripes representing the 7 provinces of the Pays Basque.

Here are some example out of our collection which you can see on this page of our website: http://www.lepinparasol.com/toile_basque_coated_tablecloth.htm

Basque tablecloths
Biarritz Olive acrylic coated Basque tablecloth
Biarritz Green acrylic coated Basque tablecloth

Basque tablecloth

Biarritz Anis acrylic coated Basque tablecloth
Biarritz Ocean blue acrylic coated Basque tablecloth
Basque coated tablecloth Basque coated tablecloth
Biarritz red acrylic coated Basque tablecloth Mylene orange acrylic coated Basque tablecloth


8 seater Basque stripes coated tablecloth: AU$141 - US$123
10 seater Basque stripes coated tablecloth: AU$174 - US$150

For any other size, please ask for a quote -
Made to measure tablecloth is our specialty

Contact & Order

NOTE: The stripes go along the table

See our collection of Basque tablecloths, cotton and coated, on this page of our website: http://www.lepinparasol.com/toile_basque_coated_tablecloth.htm

 

 

 

More general information on:

http://www.brittanytourism.com/

Markets:
http://www.gitesandmore.co.uk/Market%20Days.htm
http://www.bestgitesinbrittany.com/markets.html
http://www.brittany.co.uk/default.aspx

Events:
http://www.brittanyholidayguide.com/brittanywhatson.html
http://www.brittany.be/web/en/bretagna/eventi.html

 

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Catherine Castelain
c.castelain@lepinparasol.com
Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
Le Pin Parasol
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