Most people know about Paris (of course!), Provence, and the Loire Valley, but have you ever been to Bretagne? Located in northwestern France, Bretagne (Brittany in English) is a beautiful and unique region. Bretons (the people of Bretagne) tend to be friendly, down to earth, and proud of their culture, which makes Bretagne a friendly and compelling place to visit.
Rennes, the capital of Bretagne, is a diverse city that is essentially divided into two parts (the old city and the new city) by the Vilaine river. The quaint old city, with its cobblestone streets and 18th century architecture, is found to the north of the Vilaine. It’s also where you can find some amazing traditional Bretonne crêperies, and charming squares featuring many of the cities most impressive buildings (the mayor’s office and the opera/theater). The new city features a state-of-the-art library, as well as contemporary art galleries and ethnic restaurants.
Another popular Breton destination is the town of Quimper. Quimper is known for the colorful faïence earthenware pottery that is still made there by local artisans. It’s also where you can get some of the best buckwheat crêpes and hard cider (traditional local fare) in all of Brittany. The medieval part of the town, Vieux Quimper, is a wonderful place for an afternoon stroll. As you walk down the narrow cobblestone streets and gaze up at the half timbered colorful houses, you’ll feel as though you’ve traveled back in time.
When in Bretagne, you must visit the village of Carnac, which is known for the thousands of ancient granite rocks are arranged in different patterns (think Stonehenge). The Ménec alignments are the most well-known set of “Carnac stones.” Scientists have determined that megalithic tribes were responsible for placing these rock formations as early as 4000bc. Near Carnac, there are also a series of caves with prehistoric markings (symbols, animals, human figures) that are truly a sight to behold.
In short, a visit to Bretagne will leave you steeped in history and culture. Who knows? It may just become your favorite region in France.
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