Hear the sounds of Brittany: Listen to the old Celtic language still spoken today that influences the music of the many regions’ festivals all year round. It’s just a hop across the Channel with Brittany Ferries.
Breton language & storytelling
In certain parts of Brittany you can still hear Breton spoken. A Celtic language, it’s more closely related to Cornish and Welsh than to French and you’ll feel as though you’re in another country entirely. The tradition of storytelling is strong in Brittany, often during veillées (evenings of fireside storytelling). Some tourist offices, museums and sights now organise storytelling tours on which, if you master some French, you can glean more about the wilder Breton tales as you wander along, perhaps as night falls, adding to the atmosphere. Or you’ll find cafés and venues where people gather to listen to Breton stories, offering fun opportunities to learn about the history the locals have shaped.
With its lilting rhythms and piercing cries, Breton music is as distinctive as anything else in the region. The biniou (Breton bagpipes) and bombarde (Breton oboe) are the two most iconic instruments in any Breton band, although the harp, accordion, violin and drums can also play major parts. After a lull in the early 20th century, Breton music took off again post-war. Local coastal communities developed strong musical traditions over time – in societies torn apart by separation and frequent loss at sea, powerful emotions were expressed in stirring sea shanties. Paimpol is the port most renowned for keeping the shanty tradition alive, although many other places also stage events.
Music and film festivals
Brittany is hosting three major music festivals this autumn and winter. Don’t miss…
The Festival of British Cinema in Dinard (26-30 September 2018), a miniature of Cannes’ world-famous version. With Hitchcock as a mascot, this is one festival for which you won’t need subtitles. The town attracts some of the biggest names in British and French cinema during festival week, with a range of premières, tributes and retrospectives.
A fabulous mixture of Breton, world and contemporary music, the Yaouank festival in Rennes (17 November 2018) is a highlight of the autumn calendar. ‘Yaouank’ is Breton for ‘young’, and since 1999 this festival has done its utmost to inject new blood into the Breton tradition. Hear music that combines kan ha diskan singing with beatbox, biniou (bagpipes) with oud, punk with bagad. The climax of the festival is the final night, considered to be the biggest fest-noz (‘party-night’) in the world.
Get there with Brittany Ferries
The best way of exploring Brittany is in the comfort of your own car, packed with everything you need. With Brittany Ferries you can sail direct to Brittany from Portsmouth or Plymouth.
Plan your trip to Brittany with Brittany Ferries.