Beckoning from just across the Channel, the Brittany coastline and countryside is the perfect setting for an autumn adventure. Come and find out why it’s one of France’s top foodie destinations – as well as the place to enjoy the outdoors, catch an exhibition or relax at a seaside spa. It’s just a ferry ride away with Brittany Ferries.
Traditional Breton cooking is simple and wholesome, with the humble crêpe or galette and kouign-amann as popular specialities. Salted butter is everywhere; the irresistible caramels made with it are probably the region’s favourite edible souvenir. But perhaps the gastronomic star is the region’s seafood – in fact, Brittany’s 2,800km of coastline accounts for almost 80% of France’s total seafood production, which you can buy straight from the fishing boats in some small harbours.
King scallops or ‘Coquilles Saint-Jacques’ – a symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and a rich, flavoursome source of omega 3 and minerals – are caught from October to May in Saint-Quay-Portrieux and Erquy, a protected natural reserve. In Saint-Brieuc, chef Mathieu Aumont serves king scallops in their shells with salted butter, aromatic organic herbs and French caviar at his restaurant ‘Aux Pesked’.
Alongside other seafood including oysters and mussels, people have been gathering seaweed along the Finistère coast for centuries. Many local dishes feature this healthy green ingredient, such as Molène’s famous seaweed-smoked sausages or pain aux algues. Visit seaweed gatherers at Algoplus in Roscoff – their boutique even contains seaweed-infused beauty products.
Speaking of beauty and wellbeing, now’s a great time to relax at a Breton spa – without bypassing the region’s gourmet delights. At the Thalasso Resort marine spa in Pléneuf-val-André, the ‘Escale Breizh’ treatment uses a buckwheat flour scrub followed by a body massage with salted butter caramel oil. Or at the Miramar La Cigale in Arzon, the ‘Marine Spirulina’ therapies use the mineral-rich local seaweed.
Want a more active break ? Alight with autumn colours, the Brocéliande forest is a walker’s paradise with its shady trails and woodland-scented pathways. There are almost 200 signposted routes across the forest, all accessible on foot but also open to cyclists and horse-riders. Alternatively, get out onto the water on a boat trip around the Bay of Cancale aboard traditional sailboat Ausquémé, an unforgettable four hours at sea with birdwatching and delicious seafood to sample on board.
As for the local cider… Brittany is home to some 600 apple varieties, with some of the best around Quimper (the first Brittany cider AOC). The cider apple harvest runs from September to the first November frosts in the orchards. Drive the scenic Cornouaille Cider Route – a 40km cider trail – to meet producers and sample their fine semi-dry ciders, traditionally drunk from small bowls.
In terms of exhibitions , there’s plenty going on in Brittany this autumn. Observe how Pissarro, Gauguin and Schuffenecker captured the Breton light at “L’Impressionnisme d’après Pont-Aven” at the Pont-Aven Museum (until 5 January 2020). And in Vannes at the Musée de la Cohue, you can catch the first retrospective devoted to Joseph-Félix Bouchor and his gorgeous landscapes and scenes of everyday life in Brittany (until 30 September). If curiosities and collectables are your thing, the eclectic display as part of “Cabinets de Curiosités” at FHEL in Landarneau (until 3 November) should give you plenty to admire.
Browse all of Brittany’s main events here.
The best way of exploring? In the comfort of your own car, packed with everything you need. Brittany is easily accessible via Brittany Ferries’ choice of routes from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth. What’s more, their superb choice of holiday breaks, make getting there great value too!
If you’re looking for a short break, get away from it all and enjoy a 2-night hotel break in France from £121 per person in one of our best-selling hotels. Or, if you’re looking for something longer, nothing beats the freedom of having your own place, and right now you can save up to 25% on selected cottage holidays .
What are you waiting for? It's not too late to plan a late summer or autumn break in Western France with Brittany Ferries!