In the northwest of France, Brittany has some ties with Britain (in fact, it gets its name due to Celtic settlers, whose Welsh-like language is still spoken in some areas) and a wild coastline. It has ancient archeological sites, beautiful nature, and some excellent food—especially crepes, oysters, and various things made from dairy (especially butter), salt, and apples, which are believed to be the best in France (and thus perhaps the world!).
...is technically in Normandy, but it's right on the border. See the Normandy Page for more.
- ***Epices Roellinger - interesting spice shop run by Olivier Roellinger (who used to run a 3-star Michelin restaurant)
- ***Grain de Vanille - pastry shop known for its out-of-this-world millefeuille, but also makes a lot of other yummy stuff (including the best shortbread cookies I've ever had)
- ***Breizh Cafe - amazing crepes, the "home base" for a small chain (in Paris, Brittany, and Japan)...they also have a fancy Japanese restaurant in town
- ***Le Coquillage/Maisons de Bricourt - a two-star Michelin restaurant (run by Olivier's son, Hugo) just south of Cancale, overlooking the Bay of Mont Saint Michel. Most of their dishes highlight local seafood and Olivier's creative spice blends...but the standout is the amazing cheese & dessert trays (save room for them!). They also have rooms available in the Château Richeux, Les Rimains, or Gîtes Marins (each with different lodging options); their Ferme du Vent "kled" rooms also gain you access to their "Celtic Baths" spa and meals in your room (both for an additional fee). (If you stay overnight, their breakfasts are outstanding as well!) They also have a cooking school called Le Corsair.
- especially the flat "belon" oysters are famous in this area
- at the port you can buy oysters from stands most of the day
A beautiful walled city on an island peninsula connected by a bridge, St Malo has a bunch of cool shops and food.
- ***Beurre Bordier / Bistro Auteur de Beurre - Jean-Yves Bordier is thought to make some of the best butter in France. At Bistro Auteur de Beurre, you can try a bunch of his butters—not just the salted butter that tastes like a rich cheese, but also with interesting additions like seaweed and espelette peppers. Each of the dishes also highlights the butter—my favorite were amazingly rich escargots. (You can buy his butter at shops throughout the region, and in Paris, but the Bistro is only in St Malo.)
- ?Cargo Culte - looks like a cool place to eat, casual
- La Maison Du Sarrasin - nice buckwheat-centric store run by the Breizh Cafe folks
- ?Pâtisserie Chocolaterie Philippe Bouvier - MOF for chocolate/pastries
- La Datcha Saint-Malo - cool boutique for shopping (e.g. they have nice pottery), high quality but not too expensive
Home to what many think is the best salt in the world, Guérande is famous especially for its "fleur de sel". All of its salt is painstakingly hand-harvested in mudflat ponds (which are also maintained by hand) that date back thousands of years old.
- Terre de Sel - cool museum/shop where you can learn how the salt is made (their video was very informative), and if you reserve in advance you can take tours (including ones that are designed for small children)
- Crêperie Fleur de Sel - nice crepe place south of the salt fields in Batz-sur-Mer
Standing Stones/Prehistoric Sites
Brittany has a number of Stonehenge-esque standing stones (called "menhirs" in Breton) and other prehistoric sites (like "tumulus" or grave mound).
- Alignements de Carnac - the most famous site, with a nice museum but which controls access to the stones themselves with overly-long tours...if we had it to do over again, we'd probably just visit the museum and then head to nearby Kerzerho (below)
- Alignements de Kerzérho - our favorite spot...there's a small parking lot and then you can explore a number of standing stones; don't miss the nearby Menhirs Guérisseurs