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Discover Brittany France.. An Enchanting Paradise

Updated on February 19, 2011

How to get there

First the distances involved

Great Britain

London-Rennes : 753 km

London-Paris : 402 km

Eire

Dublin - Paris: 887 km

Dublin - Rennes: 1239km

BY CAR

At only 3 hours from Paris, Brittany has the advantage of a good toll-free motorway network, from the capital Rennes that links all Breton towns. The A84 "Esturies" motorway takes you straight to Rennes and Brittany's north coast via Normandy, with an added advantage of avoiding Paris.

BY RAIL

Rennes and Pris are linked by the Atlantic TGV service which takes 2 hours. Trains depart daily (every hour between 7am and 1am) from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes. The journey from Paris to Brest and Quimper takes 4 hours. Of course if you are travelling from Great Britain, you can take the Eurostar which runs a daily service from London to Paris via Folkstone and Calais. Crossing the channel this way takes 35 minutes platform to platform

You get get more details from their web site : www.eurotunnel.com

BY BOAT

Brittany Ferries sail between Portsmouth and St. Malo, Plymouth and Roscoff, Cork and Roscoff, Poole/Portsmouth and Cherbourg, and Portsmouth and Caen.

Get more details from their web site : www.brittanyferries.com

BY AIR

Air France offer several daily flights from Paris to Brest, Lannion, Lorient, Quimper and Rennes. check for details at www.airfrance.com/uk

Ryanair offer direct flights between London (Stanstead), Luton and Dinard, and between Dublin and Paris. More info at www.ryanair.com

Other airlines to check out are Aer Lingus at www.aerlingus.com....

Aer Arann at www.aerarann.com ...Flybe at www.flybe.com


Medieval houses at Champ-Jacquet, Rennes
Medieval houses at Champ-Jacquet, Rennes

A Brief History

In the 5 th century, Bretons from the Island of what is now known as Great Britain emigrated to Armorica, which we now know as Brittany. This region in the west of France is made up of 4 départments : Côtes d'Armor, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine and Morbihan,with Rennes as the administrative capital, home to over 200,000 people. Rennes is a young town that welcomes a large student population to this city of art and history.

Standing stones in the Kermario  alignment (courtesy marek69)
Standing stones in the Kermario alignment (courtesy marek69)
Traditional lace bonnets
Traditional lace bonnets
These are called Coiffes
These are called Coiffes

Celtic Land of Legend


Archeologically Brittany Is a very rich region. The alignments at Carnac rival Stonehenge, this is the "Little Britain" of Arthurian legend. The Broceliande Forest will take you back to the time of King Arthur and his court. Many of the lively episodes in the quest for the Holy Grail were set in this wood. The same site was also the setting for the ambiguous love story between Vivian the Enchantress and Merlin the Magician.You can learn more about it's folklore at the Centre de l'Imaginaire Arthurien in the Château de Comper.

Settlements such as St. Malo and Quimper were founded by Welsh and Irish missionaries. Brittany remained independent until the 16 th century before its union with France.

Brittany is a Celtic refuge, and if your looking for some traditional events, there are the festivals, like the ones in Lorient which stages over 4000 artists each year, and Nantes (June/July) Not forgetting the international Harp festival in Dinan that draws contestants from all over the world. Then there are the Celtic Folklore groups - Circles Bagadou., and at Brinic there is the Scotbagpipe festival.Or you may be interested in the Pardons, these are religious pilgramage festivals that commemorate local saints, that are held from the end of May to the beginning of September. There are so many Pardons in Brittany including the Pardons des Islandais in Paimpol, where sailors pray for protection before setting sail. You will see the beautiful national costumes worn by both men and women. Some of the lace bonnets are truly remarkable.

Harbour at St. Malo
Harbour at St. Malo
Lighthouse in Finisre
Lighthouse in Finisre
Shipwrecks at Camaret-sur-Mer
Shipwrecks at Camaret-sur-Mer

Brittany's Coast

Most visitors are here to explore the wonderfully varied coastline, not just the tourists but the French themselves flock here every summer. The most obvious attraction is white sandy beaches, towering cliffs, strange rock formations and the off-shore islands. Almost everywhere you will come across Dolmen and Menhir monuments of the prehistoric past.

The most popular coasts are the Côte d'Emeraude around St. Malo, the Côte dGranit Rose in the north and the Crozon peninsula in western most part of Finistére, not forgetting the Morbihan coast below Vannes.

I recommend that you don't leave Brittany without first visiting at least one of its many islands; such as the Ile d'Bréhat, the Ile d'Sein or Belle Ile.

Each Island has it's own character, no two are the same,but all have magnificent coastlines. Due to a huge influx of holidaymakers, explore them outside of the summer months when you can appreciate their beauty to the full.

The Regions Waterways

There are 600 kilometres of navigable rivers and canals that offer you the way to explore a lesser known side of Brittany. The picturesque landscape and charming little towns of character can be enjoyed by sailing or walking, although some waterways do not authorise cyclists or horses

The Nantes-Brest Canal is a 360 km long waterway (cycles allowed) takes you past beautiful Valleys, and across numerous granite villages, ancient abbeys and medieval strongholds. On the journey you will have 236 locks to negotiate, it's definitely not for the fainthearted. this canal invites you on a journey back to the Brittany of long ago.

Blavet Canal This canal meets the Nantes - Brest canal in Guerlédan, between Pontivy and Hennebont. The Guerlédan lake covers 12 km and is a haven for water sports. The beaches and banks lead you to the Nantes- Brest canal.

The Ille-et Rance Canal covers 84 km from Dinan to Rennes. this canal has more than its fair share of locks - the town of Hédé has 11 of them on a 2 km stretch. It's here in Hédé where you can get a glimpse of the Château de Montmuran which overlooks the valley, a definite photo opportunity.

Canal Breaks in Brittany. A short break or a long cruise on a houseboat are both available, and there are many reputable companies offering something for everyone.

On the canal at Hede. Looking towards the 11 locks
On the canal at Hede. Looking towards the 11 locks
Sailing into Redon
Sailing into Redon

Comments

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    • kathy02 profile image
      Author

      kathy02 8 years ago from Mayenne. France

      Thanks for that James. I know what you mean, I also had the desire to come over to France, that was 15 years ago. We bought a ruin, spent 5 years doing it up, then moved over here in 2000. Haven't looked back since.

      Kathy

    • James Mark profile image

      James Mark 8 years ago from York, England

      You've beaten me to it! This is an informative article on a lovely area of France. I'll get round to reading Oradour shortly when I manage to suppress the very strong desire to get in the car and drive over to Dinan or Vannes or …

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