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britman Bretagne - A travel report by Brit
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Bretagne,  France - flag France -  Centre
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britman's travel reports

Brittany (Bretagne) - 7 day self drive tour

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Page: 1 2
Many people take a lifetime to discover the pleasures of this exhilarating French region. It does have everything for the traveller, even for the ones that only have time for a whirlwind 7 day driving holiday. Bretagne has its own separate language, distinct from French. It has its own culture, food, drink, music, costumes, traditions and folklore embracing everything from the Holy Grail and Merlin the magician to the passions of Wagner’s Opera of Tristan and Isolde.

Pte du Van Brittany
Pte du Van Brittany
Brittany’s Celtic history dates to six centuries before Christ and is verified by the megaliths of the Carnac region. Do take a look inside some of the most magnificent churches and cathedrals in the world; they flaunt more architectural history and art than a thousand text books or web sites can reveal. Medieval villages, towns and cities are full of ramparts, town walls, half timbered buildings with more castles and fortresses than you can ever explore in such a short trip. Food and drink titillate your taste buds with new flavours and textures flaunted with presentational skills that only true French cuisine can demonstrate. Restaurants flourish to cater for a home grown market, passionate about its food, we tourists are allowed to join in – at a price! Wines served are, of course, always of French origin - no new-world varieties sanctioned here!

Favourite spots:
Typical Cidre House & Creperie Brittany
Typical Cidre House & Creperie Brittany
This scenic, mostly “green route” driving itinerary will allow you to see most of the coastal regions beauty with stops at interesting places enroute. It is a bit of a whistle-stop tour and will involve you driving around 750 km with at least 5 different hotels, plus dining in many different restaurants and including self catering picnics of course!
Day 1: - Vannes, Medieval city full of delights

Day 2: - Vannes, Carnac, Doelan, Corcaneau, Benedet, Guilvenec

Day 3: - Guilvenec, Pointe du Raz, Pointe du Van, Pont Croix, Douarnenez, Locronan, Camaret-sur-Mer.

Day 4:- Camaret-sur-Mer, bypassing Brest, Le Conquet, Lesneven, St. Pol de Leon, Carantec, Morlaix.

Day 5:- Morlaix, Lannion, Plouzed, Dinan.

Day 6:- Dinan – great city to explore.

Day 7:- Dinan - St Malo - Rennes

What's really great:
The Harbour at Doelan
The Harbour at Doelan
1. Doelan is a hidden away postcard pretty harbour village near to Corcaneau it is the one that the travel writers seem to keep to themselves.

2. Ponte du Raz is a great wild 20 minute walk through the purple heather to the towering granite tip overlooking the Isle du Sein.

3. Pont Croix is a good lunch stop (try the town square creperie) the town has one of the oldest and prettiest 13th Century churches that I have ever seen – “Notre-Dame-de-Ruscu-don” houses some sensational stained glass windows too.

Medieval walled town of Vannes
Medieval walled town of Vannes
My top things to do I mention against the individual stopover places, they are there just to whet your appetite; - walking around them alone will be a discovery of delights to your senses.

1. Vannes – The medieval old town is a must. Vannes is stuffed with colourful restaurants and loads of shops for the shoppers too.
2. Guilvenec – Delightful busy fishing port in this well sheltered harbour – loads of nearby beaches.
3. Camaret-sur-Mer – Another lovely fishing port – famous for its spiny lobsters.
4. Morlaix: – The old town, climb to the chateau and overlook the town and its viaduct.
5. Dinan:- See my separate more detailed report on Dinan – but its medieval centre and Rue Petite Fort are breathtaking.

CLIMATE: - Brittany’s weather is dominated by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Brittany can be cold and wet at anytime. In summer it can be sunny and warm – but take a sweater, waterproof clothing and an umbrella – because you may well need them!

13th C Interior of Notre Dame du Ruscadon Church, Pont Croix, Brittany
13th C Interior of Notre Dame du Ruscadon Church, Pont Croix, Brittany
The hotels I chose are all small, budget to moderate in cost, supposedly cosy and snug, BUT almost all have very small bedrooms with modest ensuite facilities. Rates usually do not include breakfast –another frequent French hotelier rip off ploy to extract up to 15 Euros a head for a chunk of bread and jam and over watered coffee. Again, buy your own fresh bread, find a nice viewpoint and eat in or by the car - you will save lots of money and may eat far better.

A few choices that I enjoyed are:-

• Vannes – Le Marina Hotel, overlooks the marina, next to the medieval old town at 4 Place Gambretta.
• Guilvenec – Centre Hotel, Rue General De Gaulle
• Camaret-sur-Mer – Vauban Hotel is well placed and reasonably priced at the far end of the Quay. (4, Quai du Styvel) next door is the France Hotel - the best in town. The Hotel Europe is on the Quayside before you reach these two busy hotels. It is has been comfortably refurbished, it is convenient and has a speciality seafood restaurant but with a rather snooty owner.
• Morlaix – Avoid the morbid Hotel Europe in the centre of this town. Try the Port Hotel at 3 Quai de Leon instead!
• Dinan – Hotel De l’Avagour, 1 Place du Champs is a real find – one of the most comfortable, reasonably priced small hotels in France. Best hotel in Dinan by far. The staff were so helpful and friendly. Beautiful gardens overlooking the medieval town walls – The bedrooms overlooking these gardens are very quiet.

Low tide at St-Michel-en-Greve
Low tide at St-Michel-en-Greve
Any hotel front desk, or patron, will tell you all about the local nightlife, if there is any at all in some of the villages. The French love and of course, invented the term – discothèque; they frequently burn the midnight oil, particularly at weekends and the major cities and holiday towns enroute all support at least one such venue.

 Treguir Cathedral commemorates the dead of World War 1 amongst its stained glass windows
Treguir Cathedral commemorates the dead of World War 1 amongst its stained glass windows
There are numerous pubs throughout this route however, far more atmospheric (after all - you are in France) are the numerous and more authentic café style bars, bistros and creperies. These establishments serve in addition to non alcoholic or alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, salads, croque-monsiuer, (melted cheese with a slice of ham on toasted bread) or hot-dogs - as well as maybe jacket potatoes or the fixed price menu or simple plat du jour. Creperies specialise in the Breton thin flat pancakes with various fillings. These specialities are either the savoury buckwheat “Gallete” filled ones with anything from cheese to meat and fish or, it’s opposite, a sweet, “Crepe” often filled with fruit and a syrupy sauce.

Cider (Cidre) is the traditional Breton drink fermented from apples. The only authentic Breton wine is Muscadet, a dry white wine which is an excellent accompaniment to the abundant sea food of the region. However, every restaurant, café, bar or creperie will have its own selection of regional French wines. A glass of vin rouge, rose or blanc will cost you a couple of Euros’, as will a small beer or lager, the choice of beers is tremendous from excellent local draft brews served, ask for “pression” to imported brand names.

Megalithic Menhir near to Carnac, Brittany
Megalithic Menhir near to Carnac, Brittany
Costs in France have increased greatly since the introduction of the Euro currency. The French love their food and dine out frequently, over 20% of money spent on food in France is spent in restaurants. A dinner in restaurants can now be quite costly because of the ubiquitous practice of offering four or five course fixed-price menu’s – if you want just one or two courses, those individual items will probably cost more than the whole 4/5 course meal! It initially looks good value but by the time you add wine, service, coffee and maybe a digestif it can be very expensive to dine out. Alternatively, make lunch your main meal of the day. Find a red/white/blue signed Relais Routier village restaurant enroute; it’s usually where all the passing trucks have stopped and the locals too. 4 course lunches including wine (for your passengers of course) at anything from 10 Euro’s up they offer very good value and a chance to sample the local cuisine too.

A few choices that I enjoyed are:-
1. Vannes – Le Gavroche – 17 Rue de la Fontainne
2. Guilvenec – Chandalier, 16 Rue Marine
3. Camaret-sur-Mer, Hotel Europe “Fruit de Mer” – despite its snooty owner
4. Morlaix:- Restaurant Maree Bleu, 3 Rampe Sante-Melaine
5. Dinan:- I recommend both the Cantorbery, 6 Rue St Claire and La Courtina, 6 Rue de la Croix.

Other recommendations:
Pte-du-Raz overlooking the Ile de Sein on a calm day
Pte-du-Raz overlooking the Ile de Sein on a calm day
GETTING THERE & AROUND: - Most Europeans will drive from their neighbouring EEC countries to Western France. Brits will either travel by cross channel ferries (that have become far too expensive of late) or take advantage of a cheap air fare, then hire a car for a short holiday.
International arrivals are usually directed to Paris CDG airport where you can hire a car (cheapest if done before you arrive by shopping around on the internet) and then buy (preferably in your own country – but even cheaper through the www. amazon web sites) Michelin Green Guide, Michelin Red Guide and Michelin Map – all co-ordinate to make your navigation, sleeping and eating easy. These are self-drive travel necessities and their cost can save you many uncomfortable nights and wasted Euro’s on substandard accommodation or poor restaurant food.

PICNICS: - Have the advantage that you buy just what you want to eat and drink wherever takes your fancy! Of course they are so much cheaper than using restaurants. Remember that France bakes fresh bread twice daily seven days a week. It has endless individual charcuteries, patisseries, butcheries and wine caves, wonderful local markets and if you must, supermarkets and hypermarkets! It also has location – lots of great places to stop and enjoy your picnic.

DK - France

Published on Monday July 19th, 2004

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Sun, Dec 18 2005 - 06:57 PM rating by jorgesanchez

excellent report!

Tue, Dec 28 2004 - 09:23 AM rating by magsalex

Great stuff. You certainly made the most of your time!

Wed, Oct 27 2004 - 06:37 PM rating by picasso

Dear Brit, it was a great pleasure to read, and the sea cost remind me a bit of the Californian Costal Highway form San Francisco traveling south or either north, but
Of coarse without magnificent medieval churches and cathedrals.

My best to you *****


Mon, Aug 09 2004 - 12:57 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

what a nice report you have written ,i think u really deserve lots of appreciation for the hard work done in writing such a report..
hope to see more such reports in future too..

Wed, Jul 21 2004 - 01:04 PM rating by traveling_gal

A wonderfully detailed report ! A great read!

Tue, Jul 20 2004 - 10:37 AM rating by breizh_punisher

Hello brit,
I live in this wonderfull region in Quimper, and my family from crozon peninsulla (camaret), thank you first for this nice article, and would like to know how would you rate brittany from the other places you've seen?
And know that in brittany we say that the rain fall only on the stupid persons ( it's not for you)
bye Tangi

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