France Fun Facts About Southern Brittany
Often wrongly disregarded as being quiet, dull or wet and windy, These France fun facts about Southern Brittany show that it is one of the most beautiful regions to visit in France.
Families from across Europe flock to various parts of Brittany each year and it’s easy to see why. Camping is huge in this region, with temperatures during the summer being comfortable and the weather often dry.
There are campsites spread throughout the region, particularly around the main coastal towns like Carnac. If it’s your first-time camping, make sure you pack everything you need for a couple of weeks and potentially mixed weather.
Away from the hustle and bustle of busy Paris and a stark difference from the tourist hotspots of the South, Brittany offers stunning beaches, thriving towns, excellent history, and those great French traditions that keep people coming back for years.
For those of you considering a visit to France in the next few years, here’s a brief glimpse of some areas of interest and what they have to offer.
Quimper is a popular town, packed with shops, creperies and restaurants. Apart from being the administrative capital of the Finistere department, it is also the cultural hub of south Brittany.
With a history of pottery production, ancient cathedrals and excellent museums, it provides one of the most interesting settings in the region.
Although its history dates to the roman times, Quimper grew to become an important regional centre, mainly during the medieval times. From the 17th century, the town became very rich, especially due to the growth of the pottery making industry.
From the paved squares to the cobbled streets in the old town, Quimper has a lot to explore. You will meet many medieval half-timber buildings, especially along the small bridges that cross River Odet.
You can also take a boat trip along this river, and enjoy the surroundings. If you are a fan of gothic splendour, then you should explore the cathedral. This cathedral, which was built in the 12th century, represents Gothic religious architecture. It is named after Quimper’s first bishop, St Corentin.
As you move west of the cathedral, you will find the old town. It features many half-timbered buildings, dating back to the 14th century. There are several creperies and small restaurants in this part of the town. For art and culture, pay a visit to the Quimper Museum of Fine Arts.
Despite being the 3rd largest fishing port in the country, tourism still plays a key role towards the economic life of this town. It is commonly regarded as a town of history and art. Its historical centre is the most popular tourist destination in south Brittany. To start your exploration, wake up early and visit the fish market. It opens as early as 6am.
Take a stroll along the walls and ramparts across the town. These stone built giants are part of the attraction of the town. Perfect for a photo of the children sitting on top of an ancient canon!
The old town, known as Ville Close, is located on a rocky island a short distance from the coast. It can be accessed by a drawbridge, which is very popular with tourists.
Ville Close was started in the 15th century. It was mainly the centre of activity in Concarnaeu, featuring picturesque paved squares and streets. Go early though, as it can be quite crowded during summer, since it only measures 350m x 100m. It features granite medieval houses and half-timbered buildings.
Whilst in the old town you can also visit the fishing museum. Here you can learn the importance of the industry to the history of the town.
If you’re looking for more fun and adventure, visit the town outside Ville Close. It features broad 18th century streets, providing an interesting contrast to the narrow streets in the old town.
With an elegant town centre and enticing beaches, Carnac remains a popular tourist destination.
When you throw in its huge collection of amazing megalithic sites, you end up with a destination you cannot afford to miss during your tour of Brittany.
It predates Stonehenge, UK, by more than 100 years. Carnac also tops the list, when you consider the number of ancient sites in the area. In fact, it has the greatest collection of megalithic sites in the world.
It has more than 3000 upright stones, which were erected around 4000 BC. Other ancient artefacts include various menhirs and dolmens.
Your adventure through Carnac should begin at the Mound of St. Michael. This mound is over 35 meters wide, 100 meters long and 10 meters high. Its purpose is to protect the many graves inside.
Artefacts that have been dug up from the site date back to 3500 BC. A few meters from there, you will meet the world-famous alignment of Le Menech. It features 11 parallel lines monoliths.
Another fascinating feature can be found in the town of Locmariaquer. Here the remains of a mammoth menhir, which was locally known as the Grand Menhir Brise can be found. This giant menhir separated into four parts after collapsing.
If pre-history isn’t entirely your thing, fear not. You can also explore the Church of St. Cornely, which was built in 1639, various restaurants and Carnac Plage. The town itself is easily missed as the main attraction seems to be the stones – but Carnac can be a great place to go grab a cocktail and sit by the beach.
Medieval streets, lined with elegant half-timbered houses, together with flower-decked ramparts characterize the stunning architectural history of this great city. If you ever need photos of traditional French streets and their brilliant structures, Vannes and Quimper are ideal.
It is also a dynamic city, which is very popular with summer festivals. Vannes was also the scene of the unity declaration between Brittany and France in 1532.
It is one of the few towns in the region which wasn’t damaged during the Second World War. The old town, the Vielle Ville, features some of the best photo opportunities in Brittany. Again, head here early for good lighting and smaller crowds.
You can also visit the two great museums in the town. These are the Château Gaillard, a mansion house built in the 15th century, currently hosting the museum of archaeology, and the La Cohue. This was built in the 13th century and used to host the Breton Parliament, from 1675 to 1689. It has since been converted to a museum of fine arts.
Outside the town, there is the Château de l’Hermine to the east. It used to be the residence of the Duke of Brittany. It is currently an exhibition space, featuring lovely public gardens.
Other important landmarks include the Hotel de Ville, which was built in the 16th century and the Vannes cathedral, which features various architectural styles.
This is more of a personal inclusion and doesn’t cater for those looking for shops, museums or traditional French streets.
Quite a modern yet peaceful town, Benodet is hugely popular for its beaches, restaurants and creperies. Families and youngsters all flock to Benodet during the summer months. It’s great for taking a bike – with beach fronted forests providing an ideal amount of shade to be protected from the summer sun.
The beach is absolutely packed on Bastille night and it makes for the perfect place to watch the sun go down and enjoy the fireworks.
If you’re visiting Brittany in the coming years, save at least one day free to visit some of these spots.
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