So many names. For a small northwestern pocket of France. An amalgam of French, Celtic and British origins. One would expect an identity crisis to emerge from such strong opposing states. But Brittany’s far from confused. It stands proud as an independent kingdom seeking greater autonomy from the French Republic. Its self-reliance is evident in its language, music, and cultural traditions. And one cannot pass on the delectable calorie busting kouign-amann (think buttery croissant with more butter).
Brittany crept onto my radar back in 2007, when we visited its eastern neighbor, Normandy. Hands-on history lessons of William the Conqueror and the Bayeux tapestry to Joan of Arc, the WWII cemeteries lining beautiful coastlines, and pristine chateaux with manicured gardens and quite unusual water fountain displays. Not to mention the ankle boots I spotted in Rouen and regret not buying to this day (seize the moment, shoppers). A jaunt next door to Brittany would have made sense instead of driving back down to Paris. But after 7 days driving around Normandy eating butter, camembert cheese and drinking Calvados, I needed to get out of the car and walk urban crowded streets.
Fast forward ten years later, we were finally Brittany bound last August. With a kid.
Brittany is home to some of the more iconic parts of France that we use to stereotype the French – berets, the quintessential navy blue striped shirt, crepes, cider and yes, shellfish.
We spent 5 nights in Saint-Malo in a lovely Airbnb 2 blocks from the beach. Our first dinner was spent plein air overlooking the Mont St Michel bay soaking in the evening’s sun rays at 8pm, drinking glasses of rosé, eating fresh monkfish and letting SJ play in the sand at our feet. It was one of those perfect, salty, warm summer evenings that I didn’t want to end.
We moved onto Vannes for the next 4 nights, where we clocked in more beach time, the famous Guerande salt marshes, and ate our share of food porn worthy shellfish tower. This part of our trip was the least amount of planning I have ever done before going on vacation, especially with a kid. Let’s just say our particular hotel wasn’t ideal for a French beach getaway, but lessons learned. All those crazy hours poured into trip planning is worth the effort. And have someone double check your maps and itinerary.
Despite these uptown problems, we had an amazingly sun-kissed summer vacation. I miss it.
We started in Paris and took a new two-hour TGV train directly into Saint-Malo, where we rented a Hertz and set out for sand, salt, and seafood. We ended our two-week trip for another handful of days in Loire Valley. More on this later.
In typical fashion, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. See Bretagne. Breton. Breizh. Brittany. In all its brilliance.