Brit­tany

Living France - - Where To Live -

Oc­cu­py­ing the north-west cor­ner of France, Brit­tany is a pop­u­lar re­gion with Bri­tish ex­pats largely due to its close prox­im­ity to the UK. It is easy to travel to Brit­tany by ferry, which makes it a good op­tion for Brits who want to start a new life in France while still re­tain­ing links to the UK. Bustling towns, me­dieval vil­lages, a beau­ti­fully dra­matic coast­line and prop­erty prices be­low the av­er­age for France only serve to make it all the more ap­peal­ing.

TOWNS AND VIL­LAGES

Brit­tany’s cities, towns and vil­lages buzz with a sense of the re­gion’s rich, sto­ried past. The cap­i­tal, Rennes, is a vi­brant uni­ver­sity city that thrives with a lively bar and café nightlife, while the cul­tural heart of the re­gion is Quim­per, the cap­i­tal of Fin­istère. Best known for its Gothic cathe­dral and an­nual Fes­ti­val de Cornouaille, Quim­per is a charm­ing town with cob­bled streets filled with tra­di­tional shops and bak­eries.

But for many peo­ple, mov­ing to Brit­tany means be­ing be­side the sea­side, and from the Petite Cité of Roscoff, full of boulan­geries, craft shops and art gal­leries, half-tim­bered houses and gran­ite cot­tages, to the walled town of Vannes where me­dieval streets give way to lots of lovely har­bour­side cafés, house-hunters look­ing for a home by the sea are spoilt for choice. The is­land vil­lage of Belle-Îleen-Mer with its pas­tel-coloured houses along the seafront is also a hid­den gem.

THE GREAT OUT­DOORS

Brit­tany is a play­ground for lovers of the great out­doors. The rugged Côte de Granit Rose that runs from Louan­nec to Plestin-les-Grèves boasts se­cret coves, scenic coastal walks and sandy beaches, and in Fin­istère’s ruggedly beau­ti­ful Pointe du Raz you can en­joy panoramic sea views on your walk along its clifftop paths that are bor­dered by wild flow­ers.

The re­gion also has a num­ber of is­lands just off its shores that are a haven for wildlife and ex­otic plants. Île de Batz has more than 2,000 ex­otic plants in the Jardin Ge­orges De­laselle, while the Île de Groix in Mor­bi­han is an ex­cep­tional na­ture re­serve.

FOOD AND DRINK

You’re never far from a crêperie in Brit­tany. In fact, it can some­times seem that the lo­cals never tire of tuck­ing into the wafer-thin pan­cakes. And why would they? Just about ev­ery­thing goes with this Bre­ton favourite. The savoury buck­wheat galettes are a pop­u­lar main meal and whether you plump for the clas­sic galette com­plète with eggs, cheese and ham, or the lighter nordique op­tion of smoked salmon with crème fraîche, you’ll be crav­ing a sweet-tast­ing sec­ond. Spread with caramel, lay­ered with poached pears or driz­zled with choco­late; the op­tions are end­less for these sweet treats.

With 2,800km of coast­line, Brit­tany is a pop­u­lar spot for seafood. Ac­count­ing for al­most 80% of France’s shell­fish pro­duc­tion, the re­gion is fa­mous for oys­ters. Other seafood dishes typ­i­cal of the area in­clude soupe de pois­son, a hearty shell­fish broth with grated Gruyère cheese and bread crou­tons scat­tered on top and, of course, moules­frites, the quin­tes­sen­tial Bre­ton dish.

In Brit­tany’s heart­lands is an abun­dance of ap­ple or­chards, pro­duc­ing the key in­gre­di­ent for the re­gion’s cider. Add a dash of black­cur­rant and you’ll have a tra­di­tional apéro, the kir Bre­ton. Then just clink your ce­ramic bolée cup, wish ev­ery­one a hearty yec’hed mat (cheers in Bre­ton) and en­joy.

The colour­ful har­bour­side of Brit­tany’s Belle-Île-en-Mer

This im­age: A tra­di­tional crêperie in Brit­tany Right: Moules-frites is a class Bre­ton meal

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