In Wendell Berry's poem "How to Be a Poet", he writes, "there are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places".
I’ve just come back from France, and it was an epic trip! I choose to give a broader meaning to the word 'sacred' as Berry did, and a place that comes to mind when I ponder on this quote is Brittany, a historical region of France that lies in the north-western peninsula.
I’ve put down some of our highlights below, including a drool-worthy food scene that you must experience at least once in your lifetime!
Brittany is characterized by its lengthy jagged coastline, charming small villages and rich culture and history that is visible in its architecture, cuisine, and landscape. A journey through this region took me to medieval city centres with cobblestone streets, old forts, castles, and museums that display the Bretons' resolve to keep age-old traditions alive and a tribute to their past.
If you are planning a trip to Brittany, here are my top recommendations for places not to be missed.
The highlight of the trip was Rennes - the capital of Brittany. Only a 1.45hr train ride away from Paris, this city is home to some of the best-preserved medieval architecture in the region. Rennes has the largest number of timber-framed houses in Brittany with some dating back to the 1500s.
Not only is it a stunning city that has delicious crêperies where you can stop and snack, it is also a student town, buzzing with youth and charisma. My personal favourite thing to try at different crêperies were their galettes! A delicate puff pastry that melts in your mouth while giving you hints of buttery sweet almonds. Although there is an abundance of different sweet and savoury filling options to suit your mood. Foodies would also appreciate a visit to this city as they can indulge in delicious crêpes and seafood that Brittany is renowned for.
Another notable city with buildings dating back to the 12th century to visit is the port city of Saint-Malo.
While it was originally built as a walled citadel, protected by its ramparts, and was also home to some pretty cool pirates! Oh, the tales this city tells!
It is now a bustling city, and you can walk through the reconstructed streets and enjoy the castle on the scene too! The ramparts are two kilometres long and give visitors stunning views of the beaches, islets, forts, and the port surrounding the city. It is the perfect place to catch a beautiful sunset view or simply for a stroll along the coast.
I particularly loved the cobbled streets and old architecture echo the tales and adventures of privateers and famous characters like Jacques Cartier and Anne of Brittany
With over 2.5 million visitors a year, this striking tidal island, situated in Normandy, is one of the most visited places in France. We approached via patches of farmland reclaimed from the sea – at the foot of Mont St-Michel, took in views, explored the village on foot and marvelled at the beauty of the Abbey that crowned the mount.
The Abbey is an architectural masterpiece, one of the greatest centres of medieval pilgrimage, and a challenge to attacks made by man, weather, and the elements. This, of course, is the main attraction of the island, nevertheless, there are other attractions and activities to see and do on and around the island, including taking a walk along the fortifications, visiting La Grande Rue, and museums among others.
Today Brittany’s historical capital is one of France's most dynamic and creative cities. visit was a whirlwind, but it can easily be explored in two days on foot. The Château des ducs de Bretagne ,a large castle situated in the middle of the city, visible from all parts. This is a must-visit attraction to get a sense of taking “a modern journey through an old land”.
In addition, Nantes is an art lover’s paradise, with countless monumental public artworks displayed all around the city and in its museums. Two such example of incredible art displays includes the Machine de l'ile workshop and the Musée d'arts de Nantes.
The Machine de l'ile workshop features a 12 meter high interactive “Grand Elephant”, amongst other sculptures and machines.
The Musée d'arts de Nantes is one of the few French museums to offer visitors 9 centuries of Western art history in a single visit. Since its creation in 1801, the museum has continued to enrich its collections through the specific acquisition of works by living artists. Thus, the collections have been regularly expanded, welcoming many masterpieces.
Passage Pommeraye was only a few meters from my hotels and is one of the most beautiful covered passages in Europe, a true architectural masterpiece of the 19th century, with little knick knack boutiques, shops, cafes. Perfect for people watching and picking souvenirs
Nantes was an inspiring way to end my journey throughout an audacious and creative region in France. One that is still very much untapped by many but is highly deserving of a visit. So, let us take you on this awe-inspiring journey to explore Brittany and other regions in France.
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