Our recent trip: venturing north from the Vendee to the bold and beautiful Brittany
Brittany/Breton, one of France's most rugged regions, is beautiful in a totally different way to the rest of France. It has a mix of bold coastlines, grey stone towns and old relics. The area was a Celtic duchy for over 1,000 years before joining France in the mid 16th century.
During the Second World War, the Vichy government detached from Brittany the depart-ment of Loire-Atlantique, now in our Pays de Loire region including Nantes and its stately chateau (above left). Today, 80% of historic Brittany is the new French administrative region of Bretagne. There is still much call for the unification of old Brittany and when in Nantes it is quite obvious they consider themselves firmly in Breton. Another contentious site is Mont Saint Michel (above centre) which has often alternated ownership between Normandy and Brittany as it sits very close to the regional border in the mouth of the river separating the two regions.
The places we visited which are about 2 to 2.5 hours drive from our house in Pouzauges, included (from bottom right) St Malo, a walled port city; Dinan, a well preserved medieval town above with the picturesque lower former river port below; and Dinard, the former fishing village turned affluent seaside resort last century due to its pretty beaches and coves. One interesting site was Les Rochers Sculptes (above right) at Rotheneuf which has monster like faces a hermit clergyman carved out of a rocky cliff face above the sea.
Brittany is known for its buckwheat savoury galette, sweet crepes, local cider and moules.
Find out about property in Brittany in our regional guide; for a photo slideshow, click here.