Explorations, discoveries and breathtaking sights from charming Brittany.

Located in the northwestern corner of France, Brittany lies between Normandy and Pays de la Loire while facing the Atlantic Ocean. A picturesque coastline, tranquil beaches and turquoise waters – all over enticing reasons to visit the beauty of the so-called Emerald Coast. Quaint villages such as St. Malo, the city of corsairs; Dinard, with its beautiful Belle Epoque villas; and Dinan, the well-preserved medieval town, add to the charm of the region of Brittany. When adding the St. Malo land program to our new for 2021 Impressions of the Seine & Paris itinerary, you can admire all three villages and enjoy a closer look into Brittany.

Unlocking The Origin and History

History can only tell the true meaning behind the origin of the name Brittany, or Bretagne. During the Dark Ages, the Celtic Britons sought refuge from the Anglo-Saxon invaders by crossing the English Channel and fleeing from Great Britain to northwestern France. Together, the unique characteristics of Brittany’s historic provinces and distinctive Celtic heritage continue to tell the story behind their Breton culture.

A Gateway into Breton Culture

Medieval towns with their prominent Celtic heritage open the path to share their unique identity with the world. Locals, or les Bretons, proudly display their Celtic roots and beautiful traditions through their historic sites, cuisine, folk music and festivals.

Marks of their heritage can be discovered throughout the region. The legendary Carnac stones, built in pre-Celtic times, remain as a puzzling mystery for architects and even locals as there is no actual explanation for their purpose. Several thousands of standing megalith stones surround the village, the largest collection of such in the world. After adding your post-river cruise land program, you can explore a major historical site in Brittany, the Château de Fougères. Before reaching St. Malo, you will be treated to a visit to this 12th-century medieval fortress, known for its 13 towers rebuilt in stone.

Unexpected Breton Delights

Brittany’s famous salted butter brings unexpected discoveries to taste and delight from the region’s iconic salted caramel butter candies to its traditional buckwheat crêpes and hearty Kouign-amann pastry dish. Originating in the 19th century, this famous Breton cake simply translates as two words: cake and butter, and it swiftly rose in popularity throughout France. Where else can one find delicious flaky layers of sugar and butter in a refined cake-like pastry? Of course, everywhere in Europe will have their own version but Brittany takes it one delightful step further with its renowned salted butter.

Breton traditional folk music incorporates melodies from Great Britain’s Welsh and Cornish civilizations. Beloved festivals, such as the medieval celebration of the Ramparts Festival in Dinan and the nearly 90-year-old annual Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper, transform the region into a celebration of rich, diverse culture in the summertime.

With everlasting efforts from the Breton locals, Celtic culture continues to remain a part of their blended French heritage.

The Marvel and The Wonder

As tides rise sky high, the stunning rocky islet of Mont St. Michel peeks from the Atlantic Ocean. Exploration beckons at every twist and turn as you enter the idyllic medieval village with its quaint shops, museums and restaurants. Along the ramparts of the island, a rewarding, unforgettable view of the bay awaits. This island was previously named "Mont-Tombe," but it was renamed in the 8th century due to the local legend of a bishop’s vision of the archangel, Saint Michael. Saint Michael repeatedly requested that the bishop build a sanctuary in the archangel’s name.

Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the Benedictine abbey towers above the medieval walls and buildings. Over centuries, generations of builders contributed to this historical monument, incorporating Gothic and Romanesque architecture styles throughout the façade of the abbey.

Mont St. Michel looms over with a striking presence despite the great distance between the island and the French coast. This treasured site holds a universal value of culture, religion and history for northwestern France as it lies at the heart of the bay between Brittany and Normandy. From their respective coasts, the two regions can share the breathtaking sight of this fairytale-like sanctuary.

Continue to explore more of this breathtaking region when you add our three-night St. Malo land program to your 2021 or 2022 Impressions of the Seine & Paris river cruise.

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