Guide to the region of historic Brittany, popular expat destination

24th January 2019
Guide to the region of historic Brittany, popular expat destination

Brittany has always been popular with expats from the UK. They fall in love with the countryside, the proud "Breton" culture and, of course, the food and drink made from fresh, local ingredients.

The fact that it's so easy to access by ferry, car or plane from the UK makes it a hugely attractive expat destination. Travel is particularly easy to the ports at Saint-Malo, Caen, Cherbourg and Roscoff. There is also a high-speed TGV train (from Paris to Rennes in two hours; and lots of flights from all over the UK to Brittany’s regional airports.

Brittany’s warm climate, spectacular coastline and proximity to the UK makes it a popular region for expats wanting to live in France. It’s easy to see the attraction of coming to live in Brittany. It’s got a spectacular 2,700-kilometre coastline and lush green countryside, crisscrossed with canals and rivers, and dotted with charming villages.

We’ve researched what you need to know about this delightful, historic region in France.

Climate and countryside

For those seeking a slightly warmer climate, it’s worth knowing that Brittany has around 1,717 hours of sunshine each year compared to 1,341 in the UK. While it doesn’t have the scorching, hot temperatures enjoyed further south, it’s sunny and warm (if windy) and rarely snows.

Along with this, the Breton regions have a hugely varied landscape and countryside. The westernmost part of France and department of Finistere has the wild and beautiful Parc Naturel Regional d'Armorique, as well as a rugged coastline with fjord-like inlets.

Alternatively, if the coast is your preference, then you're in the right place. The Brittany area is long and thin and runs west to east - this means that wherever you are it will be easy to access two different coastlines.

Exporing the coast is easy, with Pontivy in Morbihan sitting on the confluence of the river Blavet and the Canal de Nates at Brest. In addition, it is under an hour to St Brieuc on the north coast and 45 minutes to Lorient on the south coast.

Out and about

The top attractions in the Brittany include the Grand Site Naturel de Ploumanac'h and its historic walking areas or any of the dozens of other landmark sites around the coast. Add in the man-made additions like the ramparts in St Malo or the perfectly preserved fortress town of Dinan and you can stroll along cobbled alleyways and sit down at one of the famous creperies and admire the beautiful half-timbered houses that surround you.

Beaches and seaside activities like sailing, windsurfing and surfing, iconic walking routes, culture and heritage, sports and events…an expat lifestyle in Brittany means that you will never be short of something to do.

Recently introduced is a new cycle route known as ‘La Velodyssee’ that starts in Roscoff and runs all the way down through France to Spain, following the Canal de Brest for a fair stretch of the way.

Brittany has a real Celtic spirit and many towns celebrate occasions throughout the year with events that include lively folk music, traditional dress and community get-togethers.

Food and drink

Home to France’s longest coastline, there is no shortage of fresh seafood to be enjoyed in Brittany. One of the local favourites is the classic moules-frites (mussels and chips in white wine sauce). Eating out is part of the culture in Brittany, and especially for dessert, which is usually the famous ‘crêpes’.

The ‘Crêpe bretonne’ is a traditional dish in Lower Brittany, having become well-known throughout France and in other countries, the crêpe is also served in crêperies outside Brittany. It may be eaten plain, or filled with diverse ingredients; savoury or sweet, according to the base recipe. The ‘Crêpe bretonne’ can be made of wheat (sweet crêpe) or buckwheat (savoury crêpe). This last is less well-known and should not be confused with the buckwheat pancake typical of Upper Brittany, which has a different recipe.

France is proud of its wine vintage, but you’ll also find in Brittany that it’s hard to beat a crisp, fruity glass of home-made Breton cider as a before-dinner drink.

Expat Community

There's a strong expat community in Brittany, with plenty of these expats being outdoor types who like to hike and bike along the coastline and the country lanes. Brittany’s slow pace of life and easy, laid back culture of ancient traditions is appealing to many expats.

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