Imagine enjoying a glass of Glann ar Mor whisky as the steady beat of Celtic music echoes in the background. This would certainly evoke a specific sense of place. For many people France would certainly not be what immediately comes to mind. Yet, it is in France that you would find yourself.
Brittany is a coastal region found in the northwest of France. It is a place steeped in Breton and Celtic legend. These influences can be found everywhere from its artwork and ancient coastal ruins to your choice of beverage. Brittany is a unique blend of culture and has plenty of activities.
Brittany has over 400 miles of navigable waterways. This provides ample opportunity for water-sports both on the coast and inland. Kayaking, sailing, spear fishing, wind-surfing, and scuba diving are a few possibilities. These activities can be catered to a great range of skill levels. Sea-kayaking provides a unique view of the rocky coves littering the Breton coast. If taking in the landscape in a more hands-off fashion sounds more appealing than being physically challenged, there are plenty of boating tours and cruises.
There is also a slightly different, albeit popular approach to enjoying the coastal waters. Thalassotherapy, a sea water therapy, was developed in Brittany over two hundred years ago. The region has 13 thalassotherapy centers, with three alone at La Baule. This is a purely natural way to promote healing and wellness. Sea-water is used to infuse the body with minerals and improve the body’s functions.
For those of you who prefer to stay relatively dry there are numerous hiking trails and pathways. Brittany boasts over 1,200 miles of marked trails and walking paths. These can also be utilized by bikers. In fact in 2008 the Tour de France course began in Brittany. You can even partake in guided walking and cycling tours, ensuring that you see the best of what Brittany has to offer.
Finally, for art lovers everywhere, there are a series of galleries such as Musee des Beaux Arts which displays work from artists such as Ruben and Picasso, as well as those from the Pont-Aven School, a local, internationally recognized school for contemporary art.
At the Musee de Pont-Aven you can visit exhibits from the famous School of Pont-Aven in the picturesque village once inhabited by Paul Gauguin. Faïence, a form of pottery native to Brittany, can be purchased and admired at Musee de la Faience. On exhibit here you will find over 450 pieces of the famous Quimper earthenware. This is a form of pottery which is unique unto Brittany.
This submersion in Celtic culture would not be complete without enjoying one of the many festivals to which Brittany stands as host. There is the Sea Shanty Festival in Paimpol, the Folk Festival in Plomodiern, and the Interceltic Festival in Lorient. These all take place in the summer, predominantly in August. However, events can be found going on year round. Many people find Brittany to be the ideal summer retreat, but such an interesting little place can be enjoyed in any season.