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Trips to Hong Kong & Ma­cao, Brit­tany and Colom­bia

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Front Page -

De­spite its prox­im­ity to Paris, Brit­tany feels a world away from the French cap­i­tal – its name trans­lates as ‘lit­tle Bri­tain’ af­ter all. Sim­ply put, it’s like a coun­try within a coun­try, and though now part of France, the Celtic roots that ex­isted be­fore its 16th-cen­tury amal­ga­ma­tion still run strong. From the wild, rugged coast­line that gives a won­der­fully undis­cov­ered feel, to the dis­tinct Bre­ton tongue and the cen­turies of hu­man his­tory, Brit­tany is un­like any­where else in the coun­try. Now Brit­tany Tourism and Brit­tany Fer­ries are of­fer­ing you and a friend the chance to win a short break to this wild land packed with weath­ered views, an­tiq­uity and a splash of Celtic mys­ti­cism.

AN­OTHER WORLD

Brit­tany may just be a small leap across the English Chan­nel, but with a roll call of epic coast­lines, me­dieval towns and emer­ald forests, it’s firmly a land for ex­plor­ers. Many of those who visit make a bee­line for its rugged fringes. Brit­tany boasts nearly 3,000km of coast­line, and the chic re­sort of Di­nard is one of the star at­trac­tions. Its sandy strips and cliff-hug­ging Belle Epóque man­sions (more than 400 of them) paint an idyl­lic scene, one first adopted by the visit­ing Bri­tish aris­toc­racy in the late 1800s.

Today, it is the get­away of choice for both ca­sual trav­ellers and Parisian ur­ban­ites seek­ing calmer climes, with its tree-flanked boule­vards and airy squares pocked with el­e­gant restau­rants and crepêries. The pleas­ant Prom­e­nade du Clair de Lune of­fers snaking ac­cess to the town’s shores, while a glimpse back re­veals the fine Ed­war­dian in­flu­ence Di­nard’s fa­cades still re­tain.

ME­DIEVAL MAGIC

Some of Brit­tany’s most charm­ing sites lie in the walled citadels that once pro­tected the state’s bor­ders from any at­tacks, long be­fore they joined forces with the French in 1532. Jut­ting out on a spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral har­bour, Saint-malo is one of the finest for­ti­fied towns here, its twisting me­dieval streets slick with tales of das­tardly pi­rates and chock-full with quaint bou­tiques.

A wan­der along its 12th-cen­tury ram­parts is a pure joy for its views of the is­lands and forts that speckle the har­bour. They also con­nect two of the town’s finest build­ings, its cas­tle and cathe­dral. A mu­seum ad­join­ing the cas­tle charts Saint-malo’s past, rang­ing from Ne­olithic mon­u­ments to the lives of some of its most fa­mous res­i­dents, in­clud­ing for­mer ex­plorer Jacques Cartier and ro­man­tic nov­el­ist Fran­coisRené de Chateaubriand.

In­land, Di­nan is an­other me­dieval mar­vel. Its Old Town is a war­ren of cob­bled lanes, with the cream be­ing Rue du Pe­tit-fort, a steep post­card-wor­thy curve of half-tim­bered build­ings that links the River Rance be­low with the Old Town proper. De­scend past trin­ket-laden gal­leries to the quaint quay­side at the bot­tom of the cob­bles, where old stone houses have been trans­formed into bustling

restau­rants and sail­ing clothes and ac­ces­sories shops. Its sturdy ram­parts and tow­ers are an­other thrill, es­pe­cially the views you can spy from the 40m-high Tour de l’hor­loge.

On a good day, you can see as far as Mont Saint-michel. Fin­ish among the bars that line Rue de la Cor­don­nerie, aptly nick­named the ‘thirsty street’, as you re­flect upon a des­ti­na­tion that al­most ap­pears as if time has stood still since the 15th cen­tury.

COASTAL TREA­SURES

Head east along the coast to Brit­tany’s oys­ter cap­i­tal, the fish­ing vil­lage of Can­cale. Shell­fish have been cul­ti­vated for cen­turies here, and Can­cale is great place to in­dulge your palate. Restau­ra­teurs fea­ture them front row and cen­tre on their menus, but if you’re af­ter a quick bite, street stalls sell them by the tray.

For a deeper un­der­stand­ing of this lo­cal del­i­cacy, a smat­ter­ing of fam­ily-run op­er­a­tions open up their farms for vis­i­tors to delve into the his­tory and pro­duc­tion of oys­ters across gen­er­a­tions. Can­cale’s charm­ing Old Town over­looks the busy port (a unique gourmet ex­pe­ri­ence aboard a his­toric sail­ing ship gives vis­i­tors a fur­ther – and tasty – in­sight into the area’s culi­nary qual­ity) while a wealth of trails snake along the rugged coast around the Bay of Mont Saint-michel. And to the north, the gorse-stud­ded Pointe du Grouin of­fers fine views of isle-speck­led seas and the white­washed Her­pin light­house.

Go east, how­ever, and you’ll wit­ness a true Euro­pean icon. The Unesco-listed spires of Mont Saint-michel rise out of the mud­flats like scene from a Harry Pot­ter book. This 11th-cen­tury abbey in­spires today’s vis­i­tors just as it did the many pil­grims that vis­ited over the cen­turies. It’s a stu­pen­dous, mys­ti­cal im­age, and wan­der­ing this tight-knit Gothic mas­ter­piece proves a de­light; the abbey’s clois­ter, re­fec­tory and ram­parts all gor­geously cling to the hill­top. A gaze out from the for­ti­fi­ca­tions back across the mud­flats to Brit­tany’s wild coast­line is a re­minder why this unique slice of France has be­come one of the planet’s inim­itable des­ti­na­tions. Brit­tany has it all, a mi­cro­cosm of an­cient his­tory, rough-and-ready vis­tas and a cul­ture that re­ally is un­like any other. Vive la Bre­tagne!

Beau­ti­ful Brit­tany ( clock­wise from this) Wan­der the cob­bles of Di­nan; ex­plore the walled city of Saint Malo; stay at the Castel­brac seafront ho­tel; and soak in the beau­ti­ful coast

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