Brittany – the beginning and the end of the world
Brittany is a peninsula located in the Northwest of France, extending up to the Atlantic Ocean for 300 km (186 mi). The entire region can be subdivided into the rural regions Armor, the “land by the ocean”, and Argoat, the “land of the forests”. Among the Romans, Brittany was known as “Finistére”, the “end of the world”. The Bretons beg to differ, though. Quite the contrary is the case! It is the “beginning of the world”, or as Bretons would say in their native tongue, “Penn Ar Bed”.
Going round the Breton peninsula on the “Douanier” route
Brittany, with its 2,700 km (1678 mi) of coastline, is a popular destination among water sports enthusiasts. It is, furthermore, the home of the famous Thalasso therapy. You find unique natural spectacles such as the emerald coast in the North and the steep cliffs in the West.
A special highlight for all hikers is the famous “Douanier” route, which is about 2,000 km (1,243 mi) long. It is a long-distance walking trail, which circles the Breton peninsula and leads from the bay of the monastery mountain Mont-Saint-Michel in the Normandy via the “Côte de granit rose“ as well as the steep cliffs of the peninsula Crozon up to the sand beaches at the Gulf of Morbihan.
The varied island landscape of Brittany
Along the coasts, there are several islands, large and small, spread over in the Atlantic with rugged precipices, white beaches or exotic flowers. The archipelago of the Glénan Islands in front of the Concarneaus coast became famous through the thriller series starring commissar Dupin. White sand beaches and a view on the azure blue ocean are distinctive of the 12 islands in the Atlantic. The wildest among these Breton islands is probably Ouessant with its five lighthouses. The seven northern islands in front of the “Côte de granit rose“ present different geographical features. The islands are home to more than 20,000 endemic sea bird couples. Bréhat, the island of flowers, is located a few sea miles eastwards from the seven islands and must not shy away from its peer islands at all. Thanks to the warm Gulf Stream, you have the chance to admire both the scent and the beauty of blossoming hydrangea, mimosas, camellias and eucalyptus throughout the year. As there are no cars allowed, hikers as well as cyclists will find a genuine natural paradise on-site to practise their sports.
Following the traces of King Arthur in the oak forests
The old oak forests on mainland Brittany with their rivers and channels are the perfect location to cycle and hike along as well as embark on comfy boat tours. Legends and myths that wove oneself around the famous King Arthur saga, whose protagonist was said to have fought himself along with his twelve Knights of the Round Table and sorcerer Merlin through various adventures in the enchanted forest of Brocéliande. The very same group of adventurers was said to have been searching for the Holy Grail in the forests of “Little Brittany”.
Due to the Breton peninsula being located in the Atlantic along with its islands, the Breton cuisine has been tremendously influenced by the sea. Bretons love fish, mussels or crustaceans for meals served in any way imaginable. Also, Brittany gave the world Galettes and its infamous Crêpes. While the latter is famous for having a light dough and a sweet filling, the other is known to be made of buckwheat flour and filled with ham, eggs and cheese. In Brittany, butter is most popular seasoned with natural sea salt. The salt-butter caramel, for instance, created by the Breton chocolatier Henri Leroux, was named the “best bonbon” in France in 1980. And not to forget, the Breton butter cake “Kouign Amann” just would not be the same without its special Atlantic sea-salt flavour.
Another speciality Brittany features is the Breton language, which is still spoken by approximately 200,000 Bretons. It is the last Celtic language in Europe that is still actively spoken. The Breton word for Brittany is “Breizh”. Bretons among themselves wish their friends good luck by saying “Be Breizh!” But it is as well an invitation to the world to be enchanted by the charm of Brittany and is frequently used. So, be Breizh!