Brittany - Abbey Travel, Ireland



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Welcome to Brittany


Much of Brittany's history dates back to its Celtic roots. The landscape is littered with ancient and mysterious standing stones and the local language (sadly in danger of dying out) is based on Celtic, more closely resembling Welsh than French. The Celts came from Britain around the 6th century with their culture, traditions and folklore that still reign supreme in the region today, particularly in the rather arid interior, lending Brittany a touch of mystery and enchantment. There are a number of festivals in the various small towns, celebrating everything from military victories to religious icons to the 'idiot of the forest'.

The Bretons maintained an independent state until the 16th century in this northwest corner of France, which protrudes into the Atlantic with an irregular coastline featuring inlets, cliffs, offshore islands and stretches of white, sandy beach. It is the coastline that has made Brittany the most popular summer holiday destination in France, next to the Côte d'Azur, for both French and foreign visitors. The coast is liberally sprinkled with resorts and campsites, always full during the summer season.

Information & Facts


Brittany has a warm, temperate climate with frequent rainfall and wet weather. Sunny, cloudless days are also common throughout the year and summer months see temperatures reach as high as 86F (30C) while the winter months are wet and mild with average daytime temperatures reaching 42F (6C).

French is the official language.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, as are travellers cheques, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.

Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October).

Carnac, on the south coast of Brittany in the Bay of Biscay, is one of Brittany's most trendy holiday resorts. The family-friendly holiday resort of Carnac Plage is bright and breezy, sporting a sand-duned peninsula, a lovely stretch of beach, plenty of entertainment and various fun in the sun facilities. Ironically, Carnac is located alongside one of Europe's most important, ancient and mysterious archaeological sites; just north of the seaside town, hundreds of massive standing stones, even older than Stonehenge or the pyramids of Egypt, are aligned in rows in a field, their original purpose unknown. The nearby Musée de Préhistoire complements these fascinating relics with displays of collections dating as far back as 450,000 BC.

Opposite St Malo, sitting atop a rocky headland above the Rance, Dinard was a popular holiday spot with the British in Edwardian times; they still visit today for the bracing sea air and a stroll along the promenade. The seafront is lined with Victorian buildings, which ensure the town still retains its elegant and sedate old world character.

The main Dinard beach is La Grande Plage, a strip of sand between the two peninsulas that define the edges of the old town. It is popular with families on holiday here and is crowded on hot days. Smaller and more isolated is Plage de St-Enogat, a 20-minute walk east through the village of St-Enogat, or Plage du Prieuré, just a 10-minute walk from Dinard.

There is a great difference between high and low tides, and swimming pools along the Grand Plage and the Plage du Prieuré beaches catch seawater during high tides for those who opt not to make the trek along the salt flats during low tides to bathe in the sea.

Just west of Nantes, La Baule is Brittany's most fashionable and expensive holiday resort. Like most Breton seaside towns, it was the Victorians that first flocked here to play and promenade in the balmy air. Today La Baule is favoured by the French rather than foreigners, a popular holiday destination for the Parisian upper-middle-class when they need to unwind. La Baule's inviting five mile (8km) stretch of white sandy beach provides the perfect place to acquire a summer tan and show off designer beachwear while frolicking in waters warmed by the Gulf Stream. The town itself provides the other holiday necessities: a casino, plenty of shops and boutiques, and some excellent bars and restaurants.

Attractively situated on islands in the estuary of France's mighty Loire River, the solid city of Nantes exudes an air of importance and historical significance, an interesting holiday destination. Although not officially part of Brittany any longer, Nantes has always been regarded as the Breton commercial and maritime centre, once a springboard for exciting colonial expeditions, shipbuilding and trading. Today Nantes remains a wealthy industrial port, its architectural heritage reflecting its past achievements, from the medieval remnants in the narrow streets of pedestrianised Bouffay, near the castle of the Ducs de Bretagne, to the magnificent stained-glass windows of its impressive cathedral. The city also has some good museums including the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which has a fine collection of sculpture and paintings from the 12th to 19th centuries, and Musée de Jules Verne contains memorabilia of the famous futuristic novelist, who was born in Nantes.

Quimper, Brittany's oldest city, beckons those who need nothing more from a holiday than cobbled streets to wander through, a lazy river to cruise gently down or a wide selection of cafés and bars to sample. The idyllic holiday town of Quimper, spread around the junction of the Steir and Odet Rivers on the western edge of Brittany, serves the purpose well. Fortunately Quimper was spared the bombs of World War II and has escaped too much modern development, so the medieval character remains intact with old buildings overhanging narrow lanes and footbridges. If you can bestir yourself to investigate the local interests take a tour of one of the pottery studios that has been turning out internationally renowned Quimperware for centuries.

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