Brittany General Advice?

Old Mar 15th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Brittany General Advice?

We'll be visiting Brittany in mid-June, staying at a friend's parents' house in Kernelo. That's about 75 km NW of Nantes, near the mouth of "La Vilaine" river.

We'll have cars and are happy to venture a fair distance from our base so would appreciate any tips for attractions in the immediate and wider area. Am particularly interested in recommendations for particularly special food/ drink experiences including restaurants, cafes, shops, markets etc.

We will definitely be heading into the Loire to visit some of our favourite vineyards in the Touraine, so some wine tasting (and purchasing) is already on the itinerary!

(We're more familiar with the attractions of the Loire, East to West, than with Brittany).

Any other recommendations gratefully received!
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 11:53 AM
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If you click on my name, you'll find my trip report whose last part is on Brittany.
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 11:53 AM
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Sounds like you've visited the Loire before. Why return? We've found Brittany to be far more interesting than the Loire. Just stay in Brittany and explore the north coast around Dinan (more scenic than the south coast, IMO).

BTW, we don't "seek out" coastline. I've lived on, or very near the California coast for over 60 years. I think the Brittany countryside is very scenic.

Don't miss Vannes - one of my favorite villages in France. Wonderful Saturday morning mrket.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 04:16 PM
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We had a wonderful time touring Brittany 2 years ago. For details, see our phototravelogue at http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-24d4pe
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 05:40 PM
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Dinan, a charming walled town, is NOT to be missed. Four friends and I rented nearby for 2 weeks in 2007 and just wandered around, getting in on local "color" such as a small town's "music festival," a tour of a horse stud farm ("Haras") in Lamballe and touring the Abbaye de Boquen (nuns take vows of silence, make charming ceramics). Try to get the tourist brochures on Brittany from an embassy/consulate or the tourist bureaus. There are also about 20 designated "little towns of character," which have less than 5,000 people and some historically important site. A great side trip would be to go to Cancale and buy their absolutely incredible fresh oysters, to prepare at home! Brittany's Celtic past gives another view as to what is "French."
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Old Mar 15th, 2009, 11:11 PM
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I also would like to suggest Dinan, Cancale, and hopefully you would have time for St. Malo (another walled town) and Dinard. All so charming!

Just like what voyageur7 said, if you like oysters, then go to Cancale for some of the best and freshest oysters. You can see Mont St-Michel while eating oysters. How cool is that?

Have a great time!
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 01:35 AM
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Echoing for Dinan and Cancale, also suggest Dol de Bretagne and Combourg.

On the south coast of Brittany there are the standing stones at Carnac, and a drive down the Quiberon peninsula offers a stunning contrast of sheltered sandy beaches on the east side, the charming little town of Quiberon itself (reminds me a bit of Salcombe for some reason!) at the tip, and then on the drive back up the west coast the wild Atlantic rocky coast.

Quiberon also has the best crab and lobster I've ever eaten, and a fabulous chocolate shop.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 02:19 AM
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We loved Vannes and Dinan! Click on my name and you will find out 10 day trip report of Brittany.
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Old Mar 16th, 2009, 05:23 AM
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Stu, back to Loire as we want to pick up some red wine of that region, a personal preference. We like to buy direct from vineyard hence we'll take one day trip into the Loire, at least.
Most likely will spend rest of time in Brittany.

Many thanks for recos of towns/ attractions.

Any suggestions for restaurants/ more foodie experiences? (Not keen on Oysters, neither is OH, but will note the reco for others in our group)

THANKS
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 03:25 AM
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If you decide to go to Dinan, I recommend Le Cottage restaurant.
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 04:11 AM
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Not all the good places to visit are far away.

You should be near to Guerande, an attractive walled town, and the adjacent sea salt beds.

La Roche Bernard is worth an hour or two.

La Gacilly, somewhere to the north of the Vilaine mouth, is a very attractive place, a village where there is a lot of craft production. Possibility of hiring a boat for a very scenic trip along the river Aff.

If you like boats and water, Redon is the crossroads of inland navigation in Brittany.

Nantes does not appeal greatly to me, but the chateau is worth a look. It's not a pretty house type of chateau, but a massive fortification -- same sort of thing as Angers, which I suppose you know.

I very much like the Loire country, but the stretch between Nantes and Angers is not especially interesting. [Personally, I'd get my wine in Anjou or the western end of Touraine.]
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Old Mar 17th, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Kavey, will you be in Paris beforehand? There is a really good TO there (well, as of my last trip) that is pretty extensive, covering all areas of Brittany. If you are, I will dig up the address for you (assuming it is still at the same location).

I plan to buy all the Pudlos - Paris, Brittany/Normandy, and of course Provence for my upcoming trips this summer. I'm certain to do that before too long and I can give you my opinions of the book when I do (or you could check it out at Stanfords...)
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 12:51 AM
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Great recommendations, thanks folks...

FG no, won't be in Paris, we'll be driving over via Calais so we'll have our own car, which we prefer and allows us to bring home lots more shopping!
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 02:09 AM
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Brittany is too damp for wine, but the cider is fantastic & calvados is IMO the only spirit in the same league as whisky. Seek out seafood.
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 02:46 AM
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Calvados is produced in Normandy, in the Departament bearing the same name. The Breton version is Lambig. Highly variable in quality.

You might also try Chouchen, Breton mead. Too sweet for me.
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 05:42 AM
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Oooh if it's sweet, sweet, sweet chances are I'll love it!
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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You can have my share (Herself doesn't have a sweet tooth, either).

Look for it in markets. It's generally an "artisinal" product. I don't know if you speak French: it's pronounced SHOO-shen.
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 06:40 AM
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We were in a gite by Rochfort-en-Terre last June. Although
we are used to driving long distances we couldn't get over
how BIG Brittany is! Definitely need at least a month to
see the main attractions.

The south coast towns/villages are truly lovely esp.
Vannes.
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 07:23 AM
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If you like red from the Loire I would drop down to Saumur and Saumur Champigny

IMO red is not really the right colour for Loire, so while there try some serious chenin. Vouvray is good place to start but also in Saumur

Then Fizz Quadrille is the finest white I've ever tasted might also try Chat Langlois for their red and white fizz

Brittany for me is really about mussels and crepes, I like the way the mussels are sold by the village name
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Old Mar 19th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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Padraig, I speak fluent French so will definitely ask after that product.

Bilbo, we're pretty familiar with the reds of the Loire, including Saumur, and my husband particularly likes some reds from Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil which is where we'll head to buy some more to store. He also likes Bordeaux region reds, Burgundy reds and others.

I adore crepes and had forgotten about galettes, which I think are also a Breton speciality?

I have driven through Britanny with a couple of stops but never stayed in the region, so all the tips above for towns and attractions to visit are very helpful.

Thanks again!
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