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My Brittany...

SaintThomasTV / Chaine Vimeo

I grew up in Cornwall and whilst hordes of tourists descended on our region every summer our family would often drive down to Plymouth and get the ferry across to Roscoff in Brittany for our holidays. At first we stayed in the north, but over the years we explored quite a bit of the region.

The beaches around Roscoff are gorgeous, a mix of amazingly fine white sand and rockpools to go foraging in. And Roscoff itself is more than just a ferry terminal. There is still a traditional fishing port and the town centre is pretty, with some nice places to eat. You can also take a short boat ride out to the Ile de Batz from there, which has some beautiful exotic gardens to visit and deserted unspoilt beaches to discover.

Venturing just to the east of Roscoff, we stayed near Perros-Guirec on the Pink Granite coast. The sandy beaches here are backed by distinctly rose-coloured rocky outcrops, which look particularly glowing at sunset. We also liked the resort of Carantec, and I remember visiting the Cairn de Barnenez near there, a massive Neolithic monument with mysterious carvings, which impressed our young eyes.

We would often do a day trip to the huge Océanopolis aquarium in Brest, which the whole family loved. The city was heavily bombed in WWII so has quite a modern look in places, although some historic buildings remain. It was and is an important port for both shipping and sailing, and has lots of military & naval history, which was perhaps a little lost on me at the time!

Further south, in the centre of Brittany, we’d go for long walks through some quite wild countryside: vast moorland and spooky forests with lots of stories about fairies and magic associated to them – we were shocked to learn that Bretons claim that their region was the home of King Arthur – not Cornwall!

Running west to east through the centre is the Brest-Nantes Canal, which is great for bike rides, as very flat and easygoing.

Then we finally got as far as the south coast, which again has fabulous beaches – some wide and long but lots of little coves too – and lighthouses and fishing ports everywhere, actually very reminiscent of the Cornish coastline! And there are plenty of water sports and other activities to do.

The area around Quimper and Pont-l’Abbé is quite traditional and strong in its Breton identity, and there are museums in this area dedicated to the local culture. Being a little older by that time, I took more interest in this, particularly noticing evidence of Brittany and Cornwall’s shared Celtic heritage in the place names and folk songs. It’s great fun taking part in a ‘Fest Noz’, a night festival where everyone dances to Breton folk music.

And, whilst my brothers and I were sometimes fussy eaters, we all happily wolfed down the local speciality, savoury filled crepes called ‘galettes’ – delicious!

Wherever we went in the region, we always felt very welcome, and local people would always be very pleased and proud to tell us about their area, and rightly so!

Fun, fascinating and friendly, and lots of fresh air – this is ‘my Brittany’!