Jan 20th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

The Emerald Coast in Brittany

This area of France is one of this senior’s favorite places in the world.  The Region of Brittany [Bretagne] is located on the peninsula, that extends about 150 miles into the Atlantic, in the extreme northwest of France, and separates the English Channel from the Bay of Biscay. Brittany is unique in many ways as its history and culture are renown for its beauty and architecture.

Once you experience the area for yourself you will soon be asking yourself, “ which path will I want to take to explore Brittany?  Will I follow the missing sailors along the wild and beautiful coast of Armor that can be terrifying in high winds? Or would I rather hike down the paths of the Argoat natural parks in the more confidential inland part of Brittany, with its Celtic and legendary myths?”  Whether seniors opt for the coast road or the banks of the Canal de Nantes à Brest emptying into the Iroise Sea, they will never be far from the ocean blue. This magical and bewitching ‘‘soulful land’’, as Julien Gracq called it, still contains the spiritual legacy of its Celtic and Christian cultures, from its megaliths in the Morbihan to its parish enclosures in Basse-Bretagne.

The “Emerald Coast” runs along the north coast of Brittany from St-Malo and Dinard to Cap Fréhel.  Along this stretch of coast are numerous seaside resorts like Dinard, Paramé, Servan-sur-Mer, Rothéneuf, St-Briac, St-Lunaire, Lancieux, St-Jacut, St-Cast et Cancale (oyster-beds), all linked by a coast road. The most striking feature is Cap Fréhel, which rears to a height of 72m/236ft above the sea, affording fine views of the coast. It can also be reached from Dinard by boat.

Inland from the coast are Dinan, Fougères and Combourg, with a Château which was the family home of the 19th century writer and statesman René de Chateaubriand. At Essé, southeast of Rennes, is the Roche aux Fées, a megalithic chamber tomb. Much of the coastline, especially at the western tip of Brittany, is characterized by cliffs, capes, islands, rocks and reefs. The coast is at its most beautiful at high tide, and the difference between high-tide and low-tide is among the world’s greatest – up to 49 feet at the Bay of Saint-Michel and 43 feet on the Bay of Saint-Malo.

Seniors Greeted with Rugged Scenery, Ancient Stones and Great Food

So grab your bike and enjoy the scenery, but not because Brittany is renowned for her fermented cider.   Rather for her craggy coastline, cathedral cities of half-timbered houses, flower boxes decorating country cottages, and bustling ports lined with purveyors of the world’s greatest seafood… for her tiny country lanes devoid of traffic, her ever-changing ocean scapes, and her fortress castles… for her beaches, lighthouses and tidal pools… for her impossible Celtic language and traditions, music that sounds more Irish than French, and markets selling short-order crêpes.

England has an area called “Land’s End” and France has Finistère. It is where France ends to the west into the Atlantic. The ancient stones, historic castles and many villages each with its own history make a trip through Brittany one that seniors will not forget. Les Alignements at Carnac remain a mystery as to what they are and who created them. I love those stones.  They remind me of Stonehenge and may even be related. You will come away knowing the difference between a menhir and a dolmen.

A Celtic duchy for more than one thousand years before its annexation to France in 1532, it is a land rich in culture, tradition and history. With your journey through this Western peninsula, you’ll discover a people whose language, customs and dress remain a vivid homage to their past.

For a fascinating look at Little Britain, whose residents receive their guests with pride and grace, Blue Marble travel has a great itinerary set for seniors who enjoy just meandering along historic routes and stopping to take in the great food in the area. Your stomach will thank you, for there’s the “far Breton”, a custard pie; a sweet, buttery pastry called “kouign amann”; and “galettes bretonnes”, homemade crunchy butter cookies.  As a major supplier of France’s vegetables and seafood, Brittany will reward senior visitors with hearty, fresh fare from the earth and the sea, and with its famous crepes filled with sweets like chocolate or fruit, or savory mushrooms, cheese or eggs. Well, I can tell that I am going to run out of room to describe Brittany.  Work on your French a bit and view some of the many photos of Brittany. Do go and discover it for yourself.  jeb

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  1. […]  official site for Brittany Tourism suggests many things to see and to do and will help senior visitors get to know the region […]

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