France Travel Update: Brittany

France and my relationship just became complicated. After visiting the Riviera and Provence in the south, then playing in Paris, I didn’t expect another region to win my affection with the same fervor—until we traveled to Brittany along the country’s northern coast.

Kiss on the St. Malo Ramparts

St. Malo Swimming PoolI’ve long wondered if I harbor an inner-French girl, and after our trip to Brittany, a coastal region in the far northwest of France, I’m positive both that I do and that she’s from Bretagne.

St. Malo Bright Blue WatersBecause Brittany is fairly remote, it wasn’t in our original trip agenda. While visiting my host family in Angers, however, I learned that it’s one of their favorite areas of France, and their experience, combined with my total fixation for the region’s signature cuisines—seafood, butter, caramel, and crepes/galettes—was enough to sway us to buy train tickets. I couldn’t be happier that we did.

Crepes at Le Corps du Gard

Galettes (savory and lightly crispy buckwheat crepes) with a view at Le Corps de Garde: Some of the best crepes we’ve had in France and a must-visit in St. Malo. Look past the pirate garb-wearing servers—it might look kitschy, but these galettes are the real-deal! 

We spent two days in the seaside village of St. Malo, and it stole my heart. If I suddenly disappear, assume I’ve run away to Brittany, and please come visit. I’ll be the girl on the beach drowning herself in salted caramel and cider.

Breton Cider at Chez Chantal Creperie-St. Malo

Pouring a “bowl” of hard cider at the loverly creperie Chez Chantal. Forget the sticky sweet stuff you’ve tried in the U.S. Breton cider is crisp, light, and ultra-refreshing. I loved it so much, I splurged on a cider pitcher and glass set to throw my own little crepe and cider soiree at home.

Butter Caramel Crepes at Chez Chantal

Salted caramel crepe at Chez Chantal: A pillow from heaven smothered with the golden nectar of angels.

In addition to galettes and cider, we managed to devour 2 kilos of another Breton regional specialty, moules marinières: fresh mussels cooked in white wine, shallots, parsley and butter.

moules mariniere at L'Amoricaine

Moules marinaire for two at Amoricaine. This restaurant was recommended by our hotel and is a gem. Fabulous quality seafood for a steal-of-a-deal.

1 Kilo of Mussels at Cafe St. Malo

Clearly, one kilo of mussels wasn’t sufficient, so we went in for moules marinaire, part II the next day at Cafe St. Malo. The dish was equally fresh and flavorful, but the price tag was higher for the restaurant’s primo location on the main square.

We also took advantage of our trip by supplementing our meals with classic Breton pastries, which are made with copious amounts of what may be the region’s most important product, butter.

Bretonne Bakery

Salted butter from Brittany changed my life. I’m exaggerating (I am totally not exaggerating). Honestly, I did not realize that butter could have so much flavor until I came to Brittany, where it is practically its own food group. The restaurants in Brittany are the only ones in France we’ve visited that serve butter with the bread, and it’s the most important ingredient in classic Breton pastries—kougign amann (thin flakey layers of dough, separated by outlandish quantities of caramelized salted butter), gateaux Breton (a rich, buttery, almost shortbread-like cake), and shortbread cookies. It’s doesn’t taste too shabby loaded into salted butter caramels either.

Breton Butter Caramels on the Train

A box of butter caramels for the road. I found this beauty at the charming shop La Trinitaine and opted for the larger size. A bigger tin is far more “useful” than a smaller one, don’t you agree?

In addition to the fantastic eats, I treasured Brittany for its kindness and hospitality. From our hotel’s concierge (we stayed at the Hotel Le Nautilus—perfect service, location, and the most powerful water pressure of any shower I’ve encountered in France), to the woman who patiently waited while I meticulously picked through every one of her cider bowls to make my selection, to the kind gentleman who didn’t let on if he found it odd that I frequented his bakery three times in two hours, everyone we met in St. Malo was warm and welcoming.

If the promise of friendliness, buttery pastries, luscious caramels, and ultra-fresh seafood isn’t enough to lure you to Brittany, perhaps I can interest you in this view?

St. Malo Sunset

Dear Brittany, I miss you, and I hope to return one day.

For more France travel updates: Stay right here! As of this weekend, Ben and I are home safely, but I plan to put up a few more posts to share our later adventures. To ensure you don’t miss the Frenchie fun, sign up for my email list and Like The Law Student’s Wife on Facebook (don’t forget to double click the “Like” button and select “Get Notifications”).

 

Scratch that travel itch! Don’t miss these other France travel posts:

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

23 comments

  1. Hi Erin! Welcome home. It sounds like you had an incredible trip, I’ve enjoyed getting all your updates via Facebook! Glad I hit that “get notifications” tab, it’s really so easy!

    Salted butter, you’ve intrigued me (well that and all your beautiful photo’s) Rick Steves, who needs him?!? He’s been replaced! I’ve enjoyed following your little journey.

  2. Thanks for sharing – I have really enjoyed following along and reading about the places (and the food!). I have to go back to France someday!

  3. I’ll disappear with you to Brittany! I’m glad your host family recommended the trip and you took them up on their recommendation. The food the beach I’m sold.

  4. A little over a year ago I spent three days in Brittany. I agree with all your superlatives! Thanks for letting me relive this wonderful adventure. I don’t think I will ever forget those mussels! So glad you took this detour.

  5. What a wonderful experience. I enjoyed your travels through your awesome storytelling written and visual. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Welcome home, Erin. I really enjoyed traveling with you through your posts. What a great trip!

  7. Ha! I didn’t know there was a place called Brittany! That’s pretty neat. I’ve been LOVING your travel posts and I’ve bookmarked them all cause we’re heading to France next year :) so glad you’re home though, but I’m sure you miss France + the food like crazy!

  8. Wow so beautiful!!! Looks like you guys are having an amazing time! Cherish every moment! So loving all your travel updates :)

  9. Gah! Another fabulous French-filled post! I love it! Keep ’em coming!!!

  10. PS If you run away to Brittany, I will totally come visit you. Might even join you!

  11. Are you going to see any of the Tour de France???
    I am so jealous of all of your travels! Thanks for taking the time to share them with us!

    • We missed the tour, but I’ve been catching bits on TV. We also drove up one of the mountains that’s a part of the course–our CAR got tired, so I can’t even imagine what it must be like for the cyclists!

  12. I’m glad you went to Brittany too! That caramel and those crepes and mussels…oh my gosh. I love the food of regions that make each region special and I’m still living vicariously through you even though you’re back :)

  13. I seriously so jealous right now! I have only gone to Provence and I would love to visit more places in France!

  14. I loved following along your adventures in France and so glad you had an amazing experience :) We only got to visit Paris and now I totally want to pack my bags and move to Brittany – it looks so beautiful and peaceful!

  15. I just found your blog and happened to see this post. I just finished reading All the Light We Cannot See, a current and well reviewed novel, which happens to be set, partly, in St. Malo! I didn’t know this when I bought it but it was a wonderful surprise, since we had stayed in St. Malo three years ago on a family vacation to France. We loved it, except for one crepe experience. My husband ordered crepe with andouille, thinking he was getting spicy sausage. Instead he got sliced pig colon that smelled horrible enough that none of us actually tried a bite! Though it was a regional specialty, we had it taken away. We were disappointed that our snooty waitress, the only one we encountered in France, didn’t advise us about what we should expect!

    • Terri, isn’t St. Malo amazing? I will have to look into that novel too. Although we were fairly adventurous with our food selections, I never was brave enough to try andouille. Sounds like I didn’t miss out!

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