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

Brittany on a sunny day. Photograph: Niall O’Reilly

 

Niall O’Reilly was born in Cavan. He lives in Brittany in France with his partner, Poul, and they run international cooking school, Kerrouet House

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.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We’d love to hear from you

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.