A Land in the Sea
Protruding boldly into the Atlantic, France's northwest corner has long been geographically distinct from the main bulk of the country. It is so unique and recognizable that it can easily be spotted on a world map. Also known as the land of the sea, Brittany's past is filled with the legends of drowned cities and Arthurian forests as well as strange and inexplicable archeological formations.
Brittany was, after all, home to the enchanted Forest, was where Merlin lived, and where corsairs sailed to the new world. The people from Quebec retrace their roots here, and Great Britain owes the "great" in its name to distinguish it from this unique one-of-a-kind region of France.
A Mild Climate and Beautiful Beaches
The region's great attraction is a long, jagged coastline. Glorious beaches line its northern shore, with huge tides sweeping it clean and interspersed with well-established seaside resorts seasoned fishing ports and abundant oyster beds. The south coast of Brittany is gentler, with wooded river valleys and a milder climate. The west, being exposed to the Atlantic winds, has a drama that justifies the name "Finistère", the end of the earth. Inland you can find the Argoat, once the land and the forest, now a patchwork of undulating fields, woods and rolling moorland.
It is in western Brittany that Breton culture remains most evident. In Quimper, and in the Pays Bigouden, crèpes, cider, traditional costumes and Celtic music are still a genuine part of the Breton lifestyle. Vannes, Dinan and Rennes, the Breton capital, have well preserved medieval quarters where half-timbered buildings cover markets, shops, crèperies and restaurants.
The walled port of St-Malo on the Côte d'Emeraude recalls the region's maritime expertise, while the remarkably intact castles at Fougères and Vitré are still a reminder of the mighty border-fortresses that protected Brittany's eastern frontier before its final union with France in 1532.
Brittany includes four départements:
- Côtes d'Armor (22)
- Finistère (29)
- Ile-et-Vilaine (35)
- Morbihan (56)
Main cities are: