Welcome to my place ... Brittany
Brittany is the vegetable basket of France and the food markets are a joy to visit
Brittany on a sunny day. Photograph: Niall O’Reilly
What do you like about living in Brittany?
I love the unspoiled countryside and the opportunity to enjoy fantastic seafood, wines and other foodstuffs. Brittany is the vegetable basket of France and the food markets are a joy to visit.
Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit?
We live between two of the most famous tourist sites in France, so it’s either the amazing monastery at Le Mont St Michel or the extraordinary megalithic site of Carnac. Both are less than two hours from our home, but if we wanted to see something closer, the little walled town of Moncontour with its ancient streets, beautiful houses and medieval character is only a short trip.
The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are ...
The Mené is a bit like Cavan with little hills and drumlins, so people get out and walk or cycle. There are ancient villages and beautiful churches to discover, and people are very friendly, which reminds me of Ireland. It’s the custom here on entering a bar to kiss every woman twice and shake the hand of every man, so people get to know you very quickly. Everyone here loves Ireland and refers to me as their cousin. Apart from walking and cycling, there is also the seaside and opportunities to swim, fish or sail, depending on your priorities. In the summer there are free music festivals in the towns and villages and lots of Breton dancing in the fields.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Brittany?
It has to be the seafood and the buckwheat galettes. We would recommend a visit to Rennes, the capital of Brittany, on a Saturday morning to walk around the wonderful Marché de Lice in the city centre. It is the largest food market outside Paris and is a gastronomic sensation for both the eyes and the palate. Eat at the food stalls.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Brittany’s role in history?
Visit the coastal cities of Nantes and Vannes to experience Brittany’s wealth of heritage. The Irish have been coming here since the fifth century, and some say St Patrick himself was born in a Roman villa just outside St Malo. The fishing fleet on the west coast of Brittany has ancient Celtic links, and the town of Lorient has the largest Celtic festival in the world during the first three weeks of August every year.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Brittany
It has to be some famous sea salt from Guérande. It has been collected there since Roman times and nothing much has changed. If you add a few bottles of Chouchen, which is mead, and some local cheeses you will return from your holiday in Brittany with some great memories and gifts.
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