The Bretons invite the Canadians
Brittany is known for being the region that makes giants. Did you know about it? These are the creations of the Royal de Luxe company. The company creates magnificent giant puppets that walk through city streets. They came to Montreal in 2017 with their many lilliputians, the friendly little giantess and her uncle, the scuba diver, an 11-meter colossus. Do you remember?
It is also the home of Asterix the Gaul, whose fictional village was inspired, according to specialists, by the extreme tip of the Breton peninsula, called Finistère. There are more than 550 megalithic sites in Brittany. Menhirs and Dolmens which, I believe, must have inspired our friend Obelix. Finally, have you ever heard of Quimper’s earthenware?
But Brittany in 2021 is much more.
As tourist activities are about to start again in summer of 2021, the Bretons are taking advantage of it to fine-tune their invitation. They are already proud, and rightly so, of the many seaside resorts that line their peninsula between the Atlantic and the English Channel.
They are also proud of their cycle path: the VéloMaritime which stretches for almost 1,500 km from the Channel to the North Sea, stopping at the Belgian border. And then, all those water activities they can boast about.
But now they want us to discover hidden treasures; historical and contemporary, artistic and gastronomic, architectural and natural heritage. Secret beaches, canals and islands, architectural legacies, good addresses, nestled in an abundance of nature, all along a route that allows you to soak up the local culture.
The modern crossing of an old country
Brittany invites us to take a week-long route from south to north, linking Nantes to Mont-St-Michel. A course that is up to date and off the beaten track.
The tourism infrastructure is committed and energetic. Restaurants, accommodation and activities are numerous and varied throughout. Shall we accept the invitation?
Starting point: Nantes, a city to be discovered on foot.
It shows a bold face with its all-wooden Hermitage lookout that resembles a heronry and its estuary art trail including Les anneaux (The Rings) – 34 works are part of the trail. It also invites you to discover its history. The Castle of the Dukes of Brittany in the heart of the city and the medieval quarter bear witness to this.
The life of its busy inhabitants can be seen in the hundred or so parks and lively public markets.
And then, it’s impossible not to visit the mechanical animals of the Machines de l’île (Island Machines). Unique in the world.
Let’s move to St-Nazaire, following the Loire estuary.
Several works of contemporary art are scattered here and there along the sixty or so kilometres. They blend in with nature. The Serpent d’océan (Ocean Snake) is an amazing work of art representing a long skeleton of a sea serpent. And there are many others.
To keep with the theme, breakfast is suggested at the restaurant La Mare aux oiseaux, located in the heart of a nature reserve. I love the idea.
And I’ll be sure to bring my American Express Cobalt™ Card to earn5 points per dollar at restaurants and bars!
And then, we leave for La Baule, located in the magnificent bay of the Atlantic coastline, and apparently one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
Its beach stretches for nine kilometres. There are prestigious hotels and historic villas. Nearby, a visit to the salt marshes of Guérande is tempting. A renowned salt production site, it isa succession of man-made basins where the evaporation of sea water results in its crystallization… which we then find on our tables. We can agree that the activity stands out.
The capital of Brittany will be the next stop. Here is Rennes, where the river Vilaine meanders and where we discover several beautiful half-timbered houses.
If you like prestige and gilding, you will be delighted by the visit of the Grand’Chambre of the Parliament of Brittany. Then take the time to enjoy a pancake. After all, aren’t we in Brittany?
On the way to St-Malo.
Through the countryside, we first discover at Hédé Bazouges a series of eleven locks over two kilometers which allows pleasure boats to cross a 27 meters difference in height. It is a very interesting spectacle to watch the boats go by on the river Rance. The towns of Bécherel and Dinan are the next stops and allow you to stroll through shops, bookshops and second-hand stores.
Finally, an art trail, L’art au fil de la Rance, completes the visit of the surroundings, allowing you to discover contemporary creations along the river. I can already see myself having a picnic there.
Once in St-Malo, we can only see this corsair city, rich in history, from where Jacques-Cartier left to discover Canada.
A fortified town, it offers magnificent views of the beaches from its ramparts. At low tide, you can walk to the Fort du Petit Bé and the National Fort. The view is then 360 degrees.
It is also possible to go fishing on foot at low tide: crab, clams, quahog, abalone, which can be found between the rocks or by digging in the sand. There are many activities to choose from in St-Malo… a beautiful seaport.
Here we are on our way to the last stage of this week of discovery. Following the coastline, whose landscapes are once again wild and natural, you can see the Mont-St-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At the foot of it, agricultural land, called polders and from which at low tide, when the Mont is not yet an island, you can go on foot (about 45 minutes) to visit the streets, ramparts and especially the architectural masterpiece that is the Abbey.
At the end of the day, it is even possible to attend the lighting of Mont-St-Michel, and even to sleep there. Go ahead and treat yourself!
For example, you could use the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®: you won’t pay any foreign currency conversion fees and you can redeem your points to pay for your overnight spend!
The Bretons certainly know how to entertain. This brief presentation shows us the efforts made to reveal their well-kept secrets and to present a modern route in an old country.
As soon as the tourist season reopens, they will be ready to welcome us. I’m ready. To find the detailed guide, check out this page!