France Trip: Information on Brittany, France

Here's a nice article on Brittany, France where we're going to be doing a lot of traveling:

Brittany is a region located to the North-West of France. The English Channel on its Northern coast, and the Atlantic on the West and South. To the East, Brittany borders Lower Normandy and the Western Loire.

Landscape:
Brittany is a cacophony of diverse landscapes. Never far from the sea, walkers have an abundance of coastal paths to explore stretching north to south. Long golden sandy beaches are guarded by rugged cliffs where a myriad of wildlife play and nest including some species of rare birds.

Inland pinewoods cast a glance over gently rolling green valleys whilst rivers meander through farmland untroubled by the passing of time. Unspoilt wide-open spaces together with charming villages wait to be discovered and extend a warm welcome to travellers.

Attractions:
Mont-Saint-Michel Mont-Saint-Michel has evolved from a mere oratory in the 8th century to the breath taking magnificent monastery and national monument that towers above the sea today. Linked to the mainland by a causeway accessible only at low tide adds to its enchantment. The tides around Mont-Saint-Michel are renowned for their strength and are particularly treacherous in the spring when speeds of 18 mph have been recorded. .

Saint-Malo Saint Malo was named after a welsh monk who landed here in the 6th century. It is an important port and ferry terminal as well as an excellent tourist resort. The old walled city is particularly interesting with cobbled streets, small souvenir shops, studios of local artisans and excellent restaurants.

Children would enjoy a visit to the local aquarium where helpful staff are only too happy to explain the exhibits and encourage hands on participation.

Dinan The mediaeval town of Dinan is one of the oldest in Brittany. Standing proud atop a hillside overlooking the Rance valley it has an abundance of attractions; walk along the ramparts and enjoy spectacular views, visit the museum and mediaeval church, enjoy a delicious lunch at numerous restaurants using local produce. The fish restaurants are particularly good.

Josselin Josselin sits at the edge of the Oust canal and is dominated by an impressive medieval chateau, which has been the home of the Rohan family since the 13th century.

Although the interior has been renovated many of its bygone splendours remain and tours of the Chateau are well worth taking.There is a fascinating museum in the former stables housing the families collection of dolls.

Foret de Paimpont Also known as the Foret de Broceliande, is all that remains of a primeval wood. Legend has it that King Arthur and Merlin the sorcerer have connections with this area. A visit to the enchanting village of Paimpont is an excellent starting point to explore the myths further.

Weather/Climate:
The weather in Brittany does not suffer from huge variations in temperature. However, it does have a propensity to change from gentle showers of rain to bright blue skies within a few hours. On average the climate on the coast tends to be milder than inland.

Average temperatures in Brittany Cities: Rennes Jan=8 April=15 July=24 Oct=17°C Brest Jan=9 April=13 July=20 Oct=16°C

Getting there By rail If travelling from the United Kingdom, why not use the Eurotunnel? Catch the train with your car at the Folkestone Kent Terminal and arrive at Calais/Coquelles 35 minutes later. This is a fast and exciting way to visit France and beyond. The service is frequent and operates round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The EUROSTAR train also operates a foot passenger only service either from Waterloo Station London or Ashford Kent International Terminal directly to Paris. The Eurostar is an ultra modern high-speed service with a journey time of only 3 hours from London. Paris and Rennes in Brittany are linked by the Atlantic TGV service, which takes 2 hours. Trains usually leave every hour between 7am and 1pm from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes. You can also catch the TGV train to Brest or Quimper and this journey takes four hours.

It is possible to travel to Brittany avoiding Paris altogether. The TGV service operates directly between Lille (3 hr 50 min) and Lyon (4 hr 30 min) to Rennes. It is also possible to travel by coach to the main tourist resorts in Brittany. Regular coach services connect with all major railway stations throughout the year.

By Air A number of low cost air-lines operate from various locations in the U.K. directly to Rennes / Brest.

By Ferry Ferry services are frequent with direct routes to the ports of St Malo and Roscoff.

Population With just over 3 million inhabitants - the major towns are Rennes (half a million) and Brest (300,000). Inland generally is sparsely populated with most residents around the coastline.

Major Towns:
St. Malo St. Malo is a major port and ferry terminal as well as a tourist resort. Discover the old walled city with its narrow cobbled streets. Visit the Cathedral of St. Vincent and marvel at the modern stained glass window of the Chancel. Do not miss the Chateau de St Malo. Steeped in history the chateau dates from the 14th-15th centuries.

Brest Brest is a naval port with a rich and varied maritime history. For the inquisitive there is a museum depicting the important episodes in its history together with model boats and rare maritime maps. With the constant flow of cargo vessels from all over the world coupled with local fishing boats, Brest is indeed a modern city that has retained its charm.

Quimper Quimper is a busy town with attractive half-timbered houses. Famous for its hand painted pottery and Breton traditions you can find little shops selling costumes and the most delicious crepes and cider.

by: Howard Farmer

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