Visiting Brittany on our Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany vacation is a unique experience in and of itself due to the Celtic history and prominence of Breton culture in the area. Brittany is known for many unique things within France such as its language, architecture, music, cuisine, and even French Brittany Spaniel Dogs—a breed of gun dogs that is recognized on its own by the American Kennel Club. While on tour with VBT you’ll experience much of the Breton culture firsthand during a two-night stay in Saint-Malo and day visits to Cancale, Dinan and Saint-Suliac. We thought we’d tell you a bit more about what you’ll find in this historic region.
Although it is a part of France, Brittany is considered one of the 6 Celtic nations and about half of the population consider themselves as much Breton as French. Despite French efforts to diminish the cultural identity of the Bretons in the 19th century—children were even banned from speaking their native tongue and forced to speak only French in schools—a cultural revival occurred in the 1960’s. Bilingual schools started recognizing the Breton language as well as French, and Breton music returned to popularity in the 1970’s. Today cultural festivals throughout the area feature bagad bands—complete with bombards, bagpipes and drums—traditional Breton dancing, and folks in traditional attire—including women with bigouden headdresses.
Medieval structures abound in present day Brittany. You’ll have ample opportunities to explore some on a guided tour of the cobblestone streets of Dinan, a fairy-tale-like medieval walled city perched high atop a hill. We’ll also spend two nights in Saint-Malo, a beautiful medieval city along the Brittany coast. Saint-Malo became notorious in the 18th century as the home of the corsairs who were privateers, authorized by the French crown to conduct raids on the ships of any nation at war with France. During some free time take the chance to discover the famous Ramparts of Saint-Malo, the area of the old town where the medieval walls are still intact.
Being that Brittany is a coastal region it is not surprising that the local cuisine here is dominated by seafood. Your taste buds will delight in mussels, cotriade—a native dish of fish stew—and the area’s most notorious bivalve, the oysters of Cancale—a tiny fishing port nestled along the beautifully rugged coast. In fact, King Louis XIV was reportedly so enamored of these briny bivalves that he had fresh oysters brought daily from Cancale to Versailles! Today these oyster beds harvest about 25,000 tons of oysters each year and you’ll have the opportunity to taste these acclaimed huîtres while on tour with VBT during a visit to an oyster market.
These are just a few of the historical and cultural highlights we’ll visit on this fantastic biking tour of France’s northern coast. To read more about our Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany vacation, please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST.