This particular article is written about a recent visit to Brittany, in France. Brittany or Bretagne is France’s northwestern most region or province. It is a hilly peninsula extending out toward the Atlantic Ocean. Its lengthy, rugged and very beautiful coastline is dotted with beach resorts such as the chic Dinard and medieval walled Saint-Malo, built on rock in the English Channel.
It has many great coastal paths, that attract walkers, to experience the great scenery. It is also rich and diverse in Geology and Geographical features, like The Pink Granite Coast in areas like Ploumanac'h (in the north) is famed for its unusual, blush-hued sand and rocks. Brittany also has many medieval / historical towns and villages and is known for its abundant prehistoric menhirs (a type of megalith).
Brittany provides a wealth of opportunities for any visitor and is definitely a must see place destination.
My long awaited summer holiday final arrived and plans were afoot to make the most of it. We had lots planned, with many great adventures, with the first port of call being France.
I was really excited at the prospect of going back to France. We had been to Normandy three years ago and it was a memorable break. Spending time close to Mont St Michel, on a fabulous campsite, in the small town of Granville.
This time we were going close by and to one of my favourite areas, the North West province of Bretagne.
Luckily, I have been here several times before, but it was a long time ago on classic camping holidays, when Eurocamp holidays seemed to dominate this area of France.
They were simply great days though. Catching the ferry across the English Channel from the UK. Preparing the car with stained yellow lights and reflector strips, so to not dazzle the oncoming French drivers. Then packing the car with so much equipment, that my parents actually forgot the kids needed to also fit in.
I think we refer to it as the 'Great British Getaway' and that much it was. An adventure, with a whole lot of memories to be made.
Where are we going to?
This particular trip didn't involve the car, it started from Amsterdam Schipol, with a short haul flight down to Rennes, in what seemed like the smallest plane ever. The Embraer 145 aircraft seemed more like a can of deodorant, as opposed to a plane, but squeeze on we did and the flight turned out to be excellent, really comfortable and really very quick.
At Rennes airport we hired the car and then drove onward to our final destination, close to Fausanot. A leisurely journey of around 2 hours. The other option was to make the flight to Nantes, but I that turned out to be more expensive and probably less convenient.
Still two hours is nothing and the French roads are generally good. Although, I do find French roads seem to send you into some sort of time warp, as time seems to just go so slow, with the distance covered, against time, not always correlating.
We eventually made it and we were to stay at Bot Conan Lodge, which was a 'Glamping' style campsite located in beautiful and peaceful natural surroundings, some 200 metres from a small cove, with a glorious (almost private) beach.
It pretty much was the ideal place for me, as I was looking forward to a well earned break, after a busy time at work. I also wanted some peace and quiet and not to solely rely on basic camping methods, that have been so prevalent over many years. Sometimes you just want something a little bit different. Not to get wet on the first day and then spend the rest of the holiday, trying to dry out. So, this experience appeared to be the best of both worlds and I cannot express how lucky we all felt to be in such a great place.
Bot Conan Lodge comprises of different styles of camping, all perfectly positioned in the delightful grounds, with nature being the most important factor.
When I mention different styles of camping, I mean the styles of accommodation. Within the Bot Conan campsite, you have a variety of different tents, from around the world. All of which are perfectly positioned for sea views and functional / comfortable for any holidaymaker staying there.
Arnaud (the owner) is very particular when trying to make the camping experience, as unique as possible. He not only wants the accommodation to look slightly different, but also restful and comfortable for his visitors.
Posh Outdoor Living
Our tent was from a South African design, with the large tent built around a solid deck and individual rooms for both the lounge and bedroom. It had an extensive sitting area at the front, which we used for eating and a well equipped kitchen used for cooking in the outdoors. I loved cooking breakfast and preparing evening meals here. It was a privilege and agreat experience.
Our tent was also equipped with a log burning stove, so that on cold days or nights, it was possible to maintain a great sense of cosiness and obviously stay warm in July. We used it on one day, when the rain came crashing down. It was a great facility and certainly kept us all warm and dry.
Other tents on site are smaller and different in their layout and design. There are a selection of Yurts and other interesting designs, all of which have substantial outdoor cooking and eating areas.
I loved it here and the site provided a wonderful natural experience. Perfectly, positioned and surrounded by inviting woodland, rugged coastal paths and in close proximity to other areas / villages like nearby villages of Cap Coz and Beg Meil.
Bikes and boats were also provided. So each morning I either rode or paddled the 2km, down the coast, to fetch the baguettes and croissants for the day.
On site, we particularly loved to BBQ almost every night, buy or catching fish, cooking it, then eating it in the great outdoors is like heaven to me. There are lots of BBQs available here for you to use, all you need to do is grab one for the duration of your stay and then cook away.
The fire pit was also a great draw. During the pleasant evenings we would gather the logs, light the fire and then sit round, with other 'Glampers' toasting a marshmallow or two and enjoying the local tipple of the splendid Breton Cider. Relaxing times!
These were definitely great days, getting away from it all and feeling free. Watching the sun rise and go down again, a chance to meet others, share stories and I guess enjoy the simple life.
Only 200 metres from the tent was the small cove, with a beautiful sheltered beach. The beach is located as an extension of the campsite and it was indeed excellent for all families and children alike. You gain access through the gate at the bottom of the hill and it provided a great place to sit and relax and opportunities to enjoy a variety of different water sports.
Here, I utilised the paddle board and kayak almost everyday and went off exploring the fascinating, rugged coastline. It is truly stunning area and to be out on the water, viewing the coastline, gives a whole different perspective on things. At different points of the day, when the light was right, the views were also simply fantastic.
I found there was a great sense of freedom to our stay here and an explorers dream. It was great for walkers, as the coastal path that clung to the coastline offers any visitor the chance to see things from a completely different point of view and of course be among nature.
I personally loved the ever changing geographical landscape, with great rock formations, sandy coves and thick woodland lining the route. It was picture perfect and great for taking a photograph or two.
Traveling further afield gives you the option to visit some splendid places like the towns of Quimper, Cap Coz, La Forêt Fousanant, Benidot, Concarneau and also the Iles Saint Nicolas. Which lies just off the coast, close to Beg Meil.
During the stay we visited most of these places by car, on foot and on a boat. They are all very close, easily accessible and definitely well worth the effort.
This area of Brittany is very popular all year round, but in particular during the summer months. As many visitors come here wanting to enjoy seeing, the beautiful surroundings, obviously in search of the good weather.
The beaches are great for swimming, water sports or simply getting to the shoreline in order to explore coastal nature up close. There is a wealth of rock pools to explore and enjoy. Finding crabs and other interesting creatures.
The nearby towns are also really authentic, very appealing, with a typical style of shops and traditional eateries, market days and festivals, that cater for all ages and all interests.
Quimper is well worth the visit and a great city to explore. I had been to Quimper once before, many years ago, but I could not really remember it, as I was, I think 6 years old.
Quimper, the capital of Finistère (a governental region) and is also an area known as French Conrnwall (“Cornouaille”). It is a thousand-year-old city that is recognised for its artistic and historic significance through the label "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire".
The city comprises three ancient centres:
- The site known as Locmaria with its 18th century church, former Priory and adorable medieval garden on the riverbanks;
- The Bishop’s Town where you’ll find the magnificent Saint-Corentin Cathedral, a gem of Gothic Breton architecture, flanked by the former Bishop’s Palace and its own walled gardens;
- The Town of the Dukes of Brittany with its colourful timbered buildings leaning precariously over one another, Saint-Mathieu church with its splendid colourful stained glass, and narrow winding, cobbled alleyways.
Quimper boasts four permanent museums: the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts), the Musée Départemental Breton (Breton culture and history), the Centre d'Art Contemporain (Contemporary art), and the Musée de la Faïence (focussing on the iconic local pottery). All of which are close to the centre and are well worth the visit.
The city is also an ideal place for window shopping and also eating out. Quimper has many pedestrian zones lined with shops selling clothes, jewellery, accessories, housewares and more. In the centre there is a covered market hall ‘Halles Saint-François’ (with a food market every day). This area has some wonderful places to eat, like Creperies and a great range of foods on the market stalls. I was particular impressed by the great fish stalls, that housed a huge variety of fresh fish, locally caught. There is also a large outdoor market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and various localised markets including an organic market on Friday afternoons in Kerfeunteun.
When eating out, there seemed to be a huge range of places to eat and drink. From the more expensive establishments, of fine French dining along the river, to the many creperies and small cafes dotted all around.
More images from the glorious setting of Quimper
Here you are very exposed as the sun beats down and the waters currents become stronger and stronger. As you look into the distance, you suddenly realise that you are pretty much surrounded by water. In all directions, there is nothing but sea. It is all pretty ominous, as you begin to fully understand (at times like these) how small and insignificant we actually are.
On reaching the harbour, we dock and then have the chance to wander the islands narrow paths. There are no cars here or what you would refer to as a proper roads. Just dusty tracks of grit and sand, so most of the time is spent walking around and exploring our surroundings.
We follow all the other tourists, along the tourist trail, who tread the paths and weave their way from one location to the next. We follow and experience the splendour and beauty of this magnificant place.
Iles Saint Nicolas
Saint Nicolas is the main island of a collection of small islands, that make up the archipelago of Iles Glenan.
These unique islands sit off the coast of southern Brittany and are somewhat exposed to the elements, as they are very low in elevation and also positioned at the northern tip of the Bay of Biscay. Which at times, is renowned for producing some dramatic weather conditions.
Our trip departed from La Forêt harbour, which is a pretty little place with some amazing and expensive sailing boats, harboured there. Most of which are docked here, or repaired, ready to take part in the great sailing adventure races, sometimes across the Atlantic Ocean or even around the world.
We left under cloudy skies (soon breaking into sun) and then had to make a short stop in the village of Beg Meil. Here several people got on and we the set off further out into the bay.
The bay is beautiful. Awash with all manner of boats and sailing vessels enjoying the summer sun and perfect waters to sail in. It's really great to see people out and about, simply enjoying the great outdoors and enjoying life.
Even on a bright day sunny day the wind can be blowing and the waters can become choppy at times, with the boats moving in the swell.
Arriving into the islands, the waters become perfectly clear, somewhat shallow and calmer. Carefully and slowly our boat picks its way through as rocks that protrude the surface and the boats anchored to the floor.
One thing that struck me, other than its generally exposure to the elements, was how natural and untouched the area was. It seemed nature had time to flourish and the landscape was awash with flowers and grasses that are nutrient rich. Most probably from the sea salt and sunlight that is so prevalent here.
Above you fly seagulls, searching for food and in the clear waters beneath, you can see many different types of sea plants and fish. Which must be the perfect paradise for divers and the many different water sport activities, that can be found close by.
Judging by the number of boats, the French really love their sailing and this place appeared to be a mecca for all types of boats. It certainly had a great maritime feel.
During our cruise, we circled around the islands for some 30 minutes, looking at all of the islands, the nature found there and the impressive lighthouse, that marked the gateway to the sea. It was indeed an impressive place, beautiful formed, yet located so close to the perils of the sea beyond.
On the way back home, to the mainland, we again ventured into the swell of the sea and began to watch the sun go down, in the distance. It was an impressive sight and one that all passengers on the boat were enjoying.
Suddenly, from out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a Dolphin fin in the distance. At first I thought I was seeing things, but soon enough the boat was being chased by three Dolphins.
It was an amazing sight and a brilliant experience. Watching them quickly speed by the side of the boat, then jump out of the water, as if to play and perform for the audience.
I had never seen this before. Always wanted to, but I guess it just comes down to luck. I was completely taken in by its beauty. Reaching for the Smartphone, I managed to capture a few memories, but in an instant, they had plunged under boat and were gone.
for taking the time to read this latest article. I really appreciate anyone who takes the time to do so. Like I always say... I'm not a travel agent and don't wish to be. These are all simply a collection of my own thoughts and experiences, from our holiday to France.
This is undoubtedly is a fabulous area to get out and explore. Ideal for all ages, families and or just on your own. Bot Conan is also an impressive place. I loved my time there and I'm sure I'd love the opportunity to visit again one day.
Vive La France!