Crêpes, ciders by the beach. Get your seaside mentality prepped by checking off these 11 must-do’s in France’s Brittany.
Located in the northwest of France, Brittany (Bretagne in French) is a 3.5 train ride from Paris. In many ways, the region is known as Little Britain as it borders the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Bay of Biscay. And don’t be surprised if you run into a live brand, mesmerizing the crowd with hardcore bagpipes.
Weather condition can be unpredictable, so pack both summer and winter clothing even during summertime as temperatures can be extreme from day to night. Bretons also have their own language, so don’t be surprised if certain road signs show different spellings than what you thought. Enjoy your seaside vacation, Brittany as lovely as it can be.
1. Check out the Neolithic standing stones in Carnac.
Also known as: menhir collections. Carnac is a commune on the south coast of Brittany. Tourists visit here to check out more than 10,000 Neolithic menhirs. The stones were erected by Brittany’s pre-Celtics. Although the exact date of the stones is difficult to tell, some Bretons believe they’re a Roman legion transformed to stone by Pope Cornelius. If you’ll be visiting Carnac, these standing stones are the perfect wow-factor to kickoff your trip.
2. Drink a whole lotta cider.
Made from locally grown apples (I’m in love with the ones made from green apples,) Brittany’s ciders are world-famous. The region has the second largest cider-production in France, and you’ve gotta drink it out of a bowl instead of a glass.
3. Indulge in REAL crêpes.
The iconic dish in Brittany is (drum roll please)…crêpes!! They’re made with buckwheat and are used as replacement for bread. Buy them fresh from the market, and you can either have it savory with eggs, ham and cheese or have it sweet with Nutella or powdered sugar.
4. Soak up the sun by the beach.
My ideal beach vacation doesn’t require much physical activities, but to each his/her own. What I loved to do in Brittany included: morning walks on the water, napping on a large bed of sand, dipping in Atlantic Ocean’s freezing water, and drink glasses of rosé while enamored the sunset.
5. Eat andouille, even if you don’t know what it actually is.
Okay, to set the record straight, andouille is actually a smoked pork sausage. But if you were to ask any French what’s exactly inside one of these things, they’ll most likely tell you: you don’t want to know. Truth: it can be the entire gastrointestinal system of a pig. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Taste a good few slices of andouille with a bowl of cider, and you’ve got yourself the perfect Breton aperatif.
6. Go sailing, just because.
A typical scenery in Brittany is groups of yachts peacefully resting by the port. Hence, sailing is a huge local sport and a favorite activity for vacationers. Boats can be rented, if you don’t have a friend who owns one. But catching the sunset at sea is proof that “life is but a dream.”
7. Sugar up with gallettes, kouign-amann, and far.
The French sure know how to eat, especially heavenly desserts. Brittany is known for a series of sweets that you’ve got to taste while visiting the region. A gallette is a pancake made with buckwheet flour. If you love a flakey crust, this is made to your liking. Kouign-amann is literally layers of sugar, butter, sugar, butter, and more sugar and butter (just in case there isn’t enough.) When slightly heated, you’ll sure forget about those extra calories. Far is a traditional custard-cake typically added with raisins or prunes. Neither too sweet, nor too heavy. But ultra milky in taste.
8. Admire the local Breton architecture.
Although Brittany doesn’t have a shortage of medieval buildings, the certain types of architecture that will give you the feeling of vacation mode include: stone houses with some covered in ivory and ocean blue, and modern takes on art deco. Especially in Carnac, most houses have unique names painted in local Breton language.
9. Devour oysters and mussels.
Since Brittany is enveloped by so much sea, the region delivers fresh and tasty seafood. If you’re a fan of mussels and oysters, get ready to get down to business! Many restaurants are situated by the water, decorated like the interior of a large boat with casual dining settings. Pair your seafood with a bottle of dry white wine, and you’ve got yourself an incredibly delectable situation.
10. Wanderlust by bikes.
Forget about scooters! Cycling is the main form of transportation in Brittany, especially in a commune like Carnac. The region’s infrastructure is built for cyclists with cyclepaths and cycleroutes, and traffic is always extremely cycle-friendly. There’s nothing like breathing in sea breeze while cruising on your two-wheel.
11. Seduce your taste buds with the best strawberries you’ll ever have!
Strawberries that actually taste like strawberries. Don’t be fooled by their unassuming size, Brittany’s Plougastel strawberries are practically seductresses covered in deep red adorned with vibrant green chapeaux. Sweet, succulent, with perfumes of the garden in the region of Plougastel, where this particular Breton production of strawberries originated from.