I got to see a glimpse of Brittany when I visited my friend Juliette. She’s from Laval a small city which is more like a village it’s not too far from the touristy Renne and St. Malo is known for its beach and castle. My trips to Paris were all amazing but I never got to be immersed in French culture. In Laval, I stayed for a week and got to find out more about the region and France. If you need some convincing or just want to know more about Brittany continue reading.
The villages in Brittany are charming. As a huge fan of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, I felt like I entered the film by accident. The woodwork designs on the facades of some of the houses are superb. Laval wasn’t overly crowded or buzzing with people. It had a much calmer feel than Paris. This made my time relaxing. I also didn’t feel the need to see all the sights and could take my time enjoying long walks along the cobblestone streets.
It’s France after all and even the Supermarket in Renne had an enormous selection of wine. There’s something for everyone. I ended up buying a bottle to take back to Germany which my Juliette’s grandmother kindly paid for. The wine was infused with peaches; it was smooth, fruity and sweet.
Laval has a castle in its city centre there’s now an exhibition which you can see for free permanently housed in this historic castle. Fougeres castle is bigger and even more beautiful. There are many castles to choose from which all have a rich history. And many of the castles are located near the clear, blue sea. If you love castles and pretty views you will love Laval.
There are bakeries all over. You can easily find a fresh baguette every day which I ate for breakfast. But the real reason why I went to the bakery was to buy cakes daily. Fortunately, I walked around a lot else I would’ve packed on lots of cake weight.
I’m not much of a seafood lover. If you are then Brittany will dish up scrumptious meals. Daily fresh seafood is served. You can often order a platter or if your appetite is smaller dig into the catch of the day, either way, your seafood craving will be satisfied.
This buckwheat flour crepe-like creation is delicious. I had it for supper at my friends’ place. We also had it in Renne. It is savoury and thin like a crepe and you can put different fillings inside. Egg, ham and cheese are one of the fillings and I truly enjoyed gobbling it up.
You will have the best crepes you’ve ever had in your life in Brittiany. Light, fluffy, sweet and paper-thin. They are delectable.
The cheese I had was mouth-watering. In Laval, you will find a cheese museum. The cheeses I had were of high quality and creamy. I personally find cheese irresistible so yip it was a tasty experience.
In Laval, there were various medieval items dug up at an archaeological site which was close to the castle. I found out about this when I visited the castle. There are also numerous megalithic sites all over Brittany. This makes it a wonderful destination if you happen to adore history.
I never got to see St. Malo or any of the beaches sadly. I will have to return. My trip to Laval was in August and the next month my thesis was due. I couldn’t stay longer. It was also too expensive on my student budget to travel to St. Malo by train. I have been told and read that the beaches of Brittany are pristine and striking. The beaches are on my bucket list which will also give me the opportunity to visit Juliette again.
If you are like me then Brittany is a must-visit location because there are so many harbours. You will easily be able to board a boat tour or trip. And according to Wikipedia “The Nantes-Brest canal (Canal de Nantes à Brest) is a French canal which links the two seaports of Nantes and Brest through inland Brittany. It was built in the early 19th century, and its total length as built was 385 km with 238 locks” The boating potential is a mega drawcard for me.
Another missed opportunity but, I didn’t know about the Islands until I did research for this blog. The coast of Brittany has quite a few Islands. Vannes alone has 40 of them, who knew. Anyways if you want to go Island hopping it sounds like Brittany is a good destination to visit.
With prehistoric sites and plenty of medieval palaces, Brittany has a rich history. There is a lot to learn about on your trip and I had fun finding out more about a place I know very little about before.
The Bretons and Celtic people all help make up the Bretons of Brittany. Bretons have a cultural history which is unique. Today festivals are still held to honour their heritage. Food, religion, music such as bag pip music, clothes, language and myths all contribute to the heritage of Brittany’s people. The myth of Merlin the powerful magician was started in the region. You can also visit the forest where legend has it King Arthur rode. Today the Brittany language called Breton only has 250, 000 to 500, 00 speakers still it continues to survive.
Brittany is where the popular French stripped clothing comes from. The iconic look of a beret and striped clad French citizen was born in the region. Plus, there are many shops with fashionable clothing if you want to purchase a wearable souvenir.
I found art galleries even in a smaller place like Laval. It seems to me at least that people in Brittany love art. You can easily find art galleries and museums. This added to the joy of my trip. The famous artist Henri Rousseau was born in Laval. And you will find art pieces in public spaces and in art galleries.
I have to repeat this but, yes it was overall less crowded. Even Renne which is the capital city wasn’t crowded like Paris. I welcomed the ability to walk without being stuck in a sea of people. It’s a big plus for me when I don’t have to deal with large crowds as I hate crowded spaces.
The Christmas markets
Since I wasn’t around during Christmas time I’m basing this off what my friend Juliet has told me and what I have found on internet searches. Mont St. Michel hosts a Christmas market starting in late November every year. If you want to read more click here: https://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/blog/10-great-christmas-markets-and-events-to-visit-in-france-2019
There are a number of delightful free things to do. A museum exhibit hosted in an old castle in Laval, the pretty public garden, strolling around the Fougeres castle, walking along the river in Laval. The colourful timbre houses in Renne and more. Brittany has many free things to do which adds to the wonder of the region.
The people were all kind. There is deeply ingrained politeness which I found refreshing. In Germany, I found manners were sometimes lacking due to the cultural differences but, also admittedly some people were just plain rude. In Brittany everyone was smiling, friendly and polite. Me being a tourist from South Africa most likely added to the friendliness. When I boarded the bus from Paris to Laval the ticket inspector was already friendly, telling me I travelled from far as all my co-passengers were French nationals. He wished me a safe and enjoyable trip. When I left the bus the drivers were also kind. At every bakery, shop and museum people were smiling and helpful. Juliette and her family were all kind-hearted and made me feel comfortable despite the language barrier. Her grandparents all invited me into their homes and took the time to cook for me this was a touching gesture. This is one of the biggest reasons why I’d go back that and the bakeries, of course, haha.
Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment.