Brittany with the family
Stepping off the ferry at St Malo it seemed like we'd travelled so much further than just across the English Channel. Brittany felt so different - it was hotter than at home and there was a lovely warm breeze to cool us.
St Malo was tempting us with its sights and sounds; a lively town with a beautiful centre encased in 17th-century walls that enticed us to stay. Despite there being another hour or so of driving still on the agenda, we couldn't resist a quick wander to stretch our legs and let our four and six year old children run around and play hide and seek on the old cobbled streets. We enjoyed some fresh seafood, watching as our little ones battled over who got the bigger muscles. The food was delicious enough to distract the kids from wanting to go on the Petit Train de St-Malo (the little train of St Malo).
Our drive to the campsite of Siblu’s Domaine de Kerlann was toll-free. We were rather pleased with ourselves for managing to find a route that saved us the road toll. Only later in the week did we find out about the unique position Brittany is in: none of its motorways have a toll, a benefit still being enjoyed of a royal matrimony in the 15th century.
Arriving at our campsite, we were met with efficiency, shown to our static caravan and given details of the area. The children had coped well with the trip, even the littlest at just six weeks old, where we made one other short stop in a village by a church square for a feed. Nevertheless we were glad to be settling into our accommodation for the next week.
Being a planner and one who loves to explore new places I had a long list of things I wanted to do over our week in Brittany.
I love stories and myths and am keen to instil this love in the children. Who hasn't heard of the legendary King Arthur? We tend to link him with England, but legends of King Arthur crossed the waves with Celtic holy men centuries ago. These legends took roots by the lakes and moorlands of the magnificent Brocéliande Forest. Sheltered in the heart of this ancestral forest, the Centre de l’Imaginaire Arthurien brings to life the stories of the Knights of the Round Table.
Another mystical place on my agenda was in the heart of the ‘Monts d'Arrée’ woods, where the Ribambelles et Ritournelles Brittany Experience invites visitors of all ages for a walk with Katell for story time in the middle of a natural theatre. What transpires is an enchanting nature trail walk with elves (Korrigans) and other creatures, with some singing and dancing.
We'd taken our cycle trailer from home, looking to hire bikes and enjoy the children perfecting their cycling skills on the Brittany's famous Greenways - car-free, dedicated cycle paths. And in case the weather didn’t hold out for outdoors exploration, I even looked up an aquarium or two - The Oceanopolis in Brest being a great option.
The weather turned out to be fabulous; none of the "four seasons in a day" kind that is said to be common in Brittany, and so swimming and ice cream became the order of most days. The campsite's facilities, its pools and children’s club scuppered most of my ambitious plans, although we did venture out to enjoy some of the area’s best beaches.
A favourite of ours was Anse de Rospico, a picturesque sheltered beach, with a gorgeous little stream flowing into sea. It was less than five miles away from the campsite and a real hit with the kids. The children played in the sand, splashed in the water for hours on end, while I watched and rocked the baby under the pop-up sun shelter.
At least every other day we enjoyed a BBQ with beautifully fresh French produce. Once, I even managed to get organised enough to have our BBQ on a beach. Why not? We had miles of sand almost to ourselves!
We returned from our week in Brittany relaxed, wishing we could stay there instead of re-entering the world of rat races at home. Brittany is calming, a sense which even begins on its motorways that have a speed limit of 110km / hr as opposed to 130 km/hr of the rest of the country. Brittany provided a perfect family-friendly destination even with a newborn baby. We yearn to return soon.