Gastronomy in Brittany
There are plenty of culinary delights in Brittany ! You will find crêperies in most towns serving the famous buckwheat « galettes » and pancakes. You can also try a less known dish « Kig-Ha Farz », a mixture of vegetables and various meats). This dish requires more preparation and is often cooked to order. Breton people do love their cooked meats (pâté Hénaff, andouille de Guémené…). We obviously also recommend you try some seafood like oysters, mussels, whelks, spider crabs, lobsters, langoustines, clams, abalones and scallops, as well as succulent fish such as bass, red mullet, mackerel, sardines, ray…
Strawberries from Plougastel also have a name for themselves in Finistère. And don’t forget all those butter-based desserts : Kouign-Amann, far breton, quatre-quarts, Breton shortbread and biscuits from Pont-Aven…as well as salted butter caramel ! Some of the biscuit factories are open to the public.
We also like our drink in this beautiful region of France (but please drink responsibly !).
You can try the famous, authentic Breton cider, sweet or dry. You can even visit some of the cider works. A « kir Breton » is the same as a normal kir but you replace the white wine with cider.
Also renowned in Brittany is the « chouchen », a form of mead which is made from the fermentation of honey in water. To be drunk chilled.
The « lambig » is also quite popular. This eau de vie made in Brittany is produced by distilling hard cider.
There are also a number of brasseries in Finistère. The Britt ale factory is located in Trégunc, next to the campsite. Different types are available : white, blond and red.
Music, sea shanties and costumes… a festive region
Numerous festivals and « Fest-Noz » take place in Brittany, a region with a powerful cultural hertiage, attached to its traditions.
Brittany hosts lots of celtic festivals, both amateur and professional, especially during the summer months. Oboes, bagpipes and celtic harps steal the show ! Often for these events, traditional costumes are worn. The proverb « cent pays, cent modes » (a hundred countries, a hundred fashions) expresses the diversity of costumes which have evolved over the years. The lace headdresses also vary depending on the region they come from : Concarneau, Pays Bigouden, Lorient, Saint-Brieuc or another area in Brittany.
There are also plenty of other festivals organised in the area. Filet Bleu festival in Concarneau, Cornouaille festival in Lorient, Vieilles Charrues in Carhaix, Festival Interceltique in Lorient, Transmusicales, Route du Rock, etc… not to be missed in Brittany.
Languages and religions
Historically, there are two languages in Brittany : Breton in lower-Brittany (Finistère, Morbihan, west Côtes-d’Armor) and the « Oil » dialects (Gallo, Poitevin…) in upper-Brittany (east Côtes-d’Armor, Ille-et-Vilaine, Morbihan and Loire-Atlantique).
Breton is still spoken by over 170 000 Bretons and is still taught in certain schools. It is the third most spoken Celtic language in the world, despite the fact that the number of people who speak the language has considerably decreased over the past few years.
Brittany is steeped in religious heritage. You will come across numerous churches, calvaries and chapels all over Brittany. Although the number of churchgoers has decreased over the decades, religious and traditional festivals still attract a lot of people.
A region on the coast
Brittany is also renowned for watersports. Many great navigators were born in Brittany. The sailing school in the Glénan islands is one of the most well known in Europe and worldwide. If you would like to discover sailing or perfect your technique, you can sign up with one of the many sailing schools and take lessons : catamaran, dinghy, kitesurf, sea kayak, windsurf or surfing…
You can also take a boat trip on a sailing boat or old sailing ship.
If you prefer to watch, there are lots of regattas organised in the area. And it is not uncommon to see the likes of Michel Desjoueux and Jean Le Cam, whose home port is Port-La-Forêt, training in the bay of Forêt Fouesnant (between Pointe de Trévignon and Bég Meil).
Deep sea fishing
There are many trawlers which head out to sea in Brittany. The fishing ports of Guilvinec, Concarneau, Saint-Guénolé, Lorient, Erquy, Saint-Quay-Portrieux, Douarnenez, Loctudy, Lesconil and Audierne are amongst the largest in France. If you head to these ports, you can watch the trawlers coming in and out of the harbour. Some of the ports display and sell the catch of the day (generally seafood from coastal fishing).
Winkles, cockles, razor clams, crabs, mussels… Grab your buckets and spades ! Dig in the sand or lift up the rocks and discover life on the coast !
The environment and the coast
Protected sites and the rich fauna and flora
Brittany boasts numerous conservation sites. These measures have been put in place to allow the development of the most extraordinary fauna and flora. The Finistère played a pioneering role by putting into place a policy to protect environmentally sensitive areas as early as 1969. The department has since bought numerous acres of dunes, marshslands, forests, panoramas and archeological sites to protect natural sites and landscapes.
The Finistère boasts 40 Natura 2000 sites.
These include the dunes and coasts of Trévignon, the Glénan archipelago, the rocks of Penmarc’h, the Mousterlin marshlands, Crozon peninsula, Ouesssant and Molène, the bay of Audierne, Laîta, etc…
Another example is the « narcisse » flower which can only be found on the Glénan islands.
Britttany is a region rich in conservation areas which makes it such a fabulous region to explore.
Conservation of the coast and fishing (angling, sea fishing, shellfish gathering).
The GR34 (Grande Randonnée 34) is a coastal path that covers the entire coast of Brittany. It is known as the customs officers’ path, revealing breathtaking scenery and fabulous walks. Spanning 1700 km, it is popular with hikers throughout the year.
The coastal act (Loi Littoral) ensures the preservation of the coast. It prohibits constructions less than 100 m from the coast so the Breton coast is already well protected and has a great future ahead !
Fishing enthusiasts and shellfish gatherers can enjoy their favourite activity on the beaches, creeks and cliffs. Breton waters are characterised by their great diversity of fish species. You can also book a fishing trip and try some deep-sea fishing.
Brittany’s departments and population
4 Breton departments
Brittany is comprised of 4 departments :
the capital of which is Quimper (and not Brest as is often thought). The most well-known towns are Quimper, Brest, Châteaulin, Morlaix, Concarneau, Bénodet, Pont-L’Abbé, Pont-Aven, Quimperlé, Fouesnant… This department is located to the extreme west of Brittany.
Côtes d’Armor (22)
the capital of which is Saint-Brieuc. The subprefectures are Guingamp, Dinan and Lannion. Côtes d’Armor is located in northern Brittany.
the capital of which is Vannes and subprefectures are Pontivy and Lorient. This department is located in southern Brittany between Finistère and Loire-Atlantique.
The capital of which is Rennes and subprefectures are Fougère, Redon and Saint-Malo. The department of Ille-et-Vilaine is located in north-east Brittany.
LOIRE-ATLANTIQUE was historically part of Brittany but has been a part of the Pays de la Loire region since the creation of administrative regions in 1956.
In 2010, the population of Brittany was estimated to be 3 200 000. Ille-et-Vilaine has the largest population with approximately 990 000 followed by Finistère with approximately 900 000. The Morbihan is in third position with just over 720 000 inhabitants. And finally Côtes d’Armor with a population of 590 000.
The 12 largest towns in Brittany are Rennes, Brest, Quimper, Lorient, Vannes, Saint-Malo, Saint-Brieuc, Lanester, Lannion, Fougères and Concarneau. Brest, Quimper and Concarneau are in Finistère.
As for tourism, Brittany is the 4th most visited region in France, due to its heritage, culture, nature, superb landscapes and seascapes.
The Airotel La Pommeraie de l’Océan campsite is located in the heart of southern Brittany, not far from Quimper and the Gulf of Morbihan.
Discover the spectacular seascapes. The landscape changes at every turn ; sandy dunes, creeks, towns and harbours, wild landscapes and built landscapes… After your escapades you can head for one of the many traditional crêperies for a salted butter caramel pancake and bowl of local cider or chouchen.