Is there a place you enjoy visiting that keeps pulling you back? The region of Brittany is that place for me and never gets old no matter how many times we visit. The rugged landscapes, quaint towns, overall chill vibe and seaside air is paradise for me — especially in the winter. Tom, Dagny, my in-laws and I just got back from a long weekend in the Morbihan (birthday gift to me) and yes, Brittany still has that special sparkle. Here’s a glimpse into what it was like.
A sunny birthday weekend in Brittany
Discovering new places is just as important as revisiting old ones and this weekend marked our 4rd annual winter trip to nearby Brittany. It’s my go-to winter beach place and our trip has become a tradition that I look forward to all year. The winter sea air is refreshing and calming and just being there energizes me and makes me feel right at home.
If you’re unfamiliar with the area, here’s some background. The region of Brittany — or la Bretagne in French — was created in 1941 and encompasses 4 departments in northwest France: Morbihan, Côtes-d’Armor, Finistère, Ille-et-Vilaine. The regional capital is Rennes, and you can take a look at a map here. It’s easily accessible from the UK and an easy drive from Paris. The best part is there are no autoroutes in Brittany so you don’t have to worry about hefty tolls. The region covers 10,505 square miles and about 3.3 million people call Brittany home.
Just a 2-hr drive away, we headed to the region of Morbihan and shockingly, we had sunny skies pretty much the entire time we were there. No rain in sight! Hopefully that means 2017 will be full of sunny skies and smooth sailing!
Our home away from home is a beautiful rental property just outside of Vannes on the coast. It’s a short drive from Île-aux-Moines, Quiberon and all the coastal sights. There are incredible hiking paths right along the coast as well as brocantes, artisans, family-run restaurants, cider and dairy producers and more. When you think of “quaint,” Brittany villages embody the word in every way and rank right up there at the top for me.
Whether you’re an outdoorsy type or not, there’s plenty to see and do. Part of the fun is just getting in the car without a plan and seeing what you discover. A secluded beach? A hiking path? A fun little shop? Lively village? Cider farm? Yes to all of that!
So, what did we see and do?
It was our first time to Quiberon, a presqu’île (it’s not entirely surrounded by water) that’s a summer vacation hotspot and known for its sardine production. We spent Friday walking along the côte sauvage on the west coast of the island. It covers about 8 kilometers from the Château Turpault until the Pointe du Percho and is pure, rugged coast. This time of year, we had the beach to ourselves aside from a few surfers. Dagny was in her glory trying to find what smelled so good. The Pointe de Kervihan was especially beautiful on the day we visited. The water is crystal clear.
We stopped for lunch in the town of Quiberon and everyone got mussels, which are served in a mussel pot with your choice of sauce. You eat the mussel and then put the empty shells in the lid of the pot. Everyone just places them in the bowl haphazardly — except my father-in-law. This is what his bowl of empty shells looked like. I had to take a pic:
There’s also a Quiberon-based shop that’s known for its artisan confiture called La Cour des Orgères. It was started by Margareth and Pierre-Jan Indekeu, Maître Confiturier de France, back in the ’70s and passed on to their daughters, Marie-Charlotte et Vérène. The family business is now booming and I couldn’t stop in without picking up a few jars to sample myself. I went with the peach and blueberry jam, and yes, they’re excellent!
On Saturday, we took a quick ferry ride to the Île-aux-Moines. It’s 5 euros/person for the round-trip ticket (dogs ride free) and boats run all day, even in January. Home to just 600 people, this quiet, cross-shaped island makes a beautiful hiking spot and is also the largest island in the Gulf of Morbihan, covering just 1.24 square miles. Many of the homes are shuttered this time of year, but a few shops and cafes are still open for business. If you’re a nature lover and enjoy walking, this is the place for you.
What did we do on our last day? We spent the afternoon in “France’s favorite village.” More to come on that soon!
Have you visited the Brittany region of France?