Brittany gites
 

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Wednesday, 1st July 2020

Carnac

Carnac has it all, lots of history and culture, good restaurants and a great beach!

Carnac is a town in Brittany, northwest France. It’s best known for the Carnac stones, thousands of prehistoric standing stones spread across three alignments: Ménec, Kermario and Kerlescan. Nearby, the Saint-Michel tumulus is a millennia-old burial mound crowned by a small chapel. In town, the Museum of Prehistory has artifacts from the area’s Neolithic period. 

Carnac is also probably Brittany's most well known seaside town and like Damgan all the beaches have a pale yellow soft sand. They are clean and well looked after and the children love them. There is also a nice promenade if you fancy a stroll to find somewhere to eat or a cool drink.

You can take a trip on the fifty minute tour on the little train that takes you round the mysterious neolithic megaliths that make Carnac world famous. Also check out the Megalithic Museum which is packed full of fascinating artifacts

carnac

 

 

 

Tuesday 23rd June 2020

All ciders are definitely not the same!

Cider etiquette is a minefield, as I discovered to my embarrassement several years ago. I was invited to a friends house for Gallette de Rois (a french pastry and frangipane cake eaten in early january). I did my reasearch and discovered that the invitee (me!) should take a bottle of cidre to eat with the cake. When I gave my bottle of cidre to my friend, she burst out laughing and asked if I had come for apperitiffs ?

It appears that there are four types of cidre :-

  • Le cidre doux : light and sweet and low in alcohol (less than 3%) and best with desserts and cakes.
  • Le cidre demi-sec : Semi sweet with an alcohol content of between 4 - 5% and best eaten with sweet/savory foods like game, chicken or maybe a very ripe camembert
  • Le cidre brut : Quite dry with an alcohol content of arount 5% and best eaten with seafood or fish 
  • Le cidre traditionnel : Very dry with an alcohol content of above 5% and best eaten with charcuterie and red meat.

Of course I had bought cidre traditionnel. 

France is the largest cider producing country in the world!  With that etiquette I am not surprised!

And it's been producing some of the world's finest ciders for a very long time. 

Cider has been made in France since as early as the Celtic Gauls (1st century BC) and also under Roman rule (100 to 300 AD). There are historical references in the 9th century about Charlemagne ordering the planting of apple trees in Northern France so that he could always have a supply of cider.  It is also mentioned during the time of William the Conqueror, the Norman duke who claimed the throne of England after the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  Cider was widely consumed by these early Normans, because grapes didn't (and still don't) grow so well in the cool, cloudy Normandy climate. The abundance of apples made cider easier to come by on a daily basis.  

Cider was the main drink in France during Medieval times. Water was impure and often unfit to drink in most towns and villages. And when plague struck between 1400 and 1700, many frightened villagers in France gave up water and drank cider instead. Even the kids drank cider since it was much safer than drinking the water.

From the 1800's to the 1940's, cider-making was very popular in Northern France. The 1929 agricultural census gives an idea of the area formerly covered by traditional orchards: 100 million apple and pear trees.  During this time, cider was mainly produced by each family as a drink for the farm laborers ....with some occasionally making its way to the village cafe for sale to the public. This cider was put into Champagne-style bottles and corked for transport and came to be called Cidre Bouché (cider stopped with a cork!)

During World War II,  many cider apple and pear orchards in Normandy were destroyed.  After the war, Normandy farmers began an intensive effort to rejuvenate the orchard economy. It was at this time, that the famous  Pays d'Auge Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status was granted by the French government to the tiny Pays d'Auge region nestled in the heart of the Calvados department in Normandy.

At the peak of traditional orchard farming, in the early 1960s, France had the most extensive fruit orchard meadows in Europe, with one million hectars (about 2.5 million acres).   However, due to a weakened economy from 1960-2000, traditional orchards largely declined as farmers cut down the orchards to make way for more profitable crops.  In 2002, the remaining traditional orchards covered about 146,000 hectars (about 360,000 acres) with 5 million trees.  

Despite the decrease in cider orchards in the last 50 years, the tradition of cider making is alive and well in France - and making a come-back - as the adult children start to return to the orchards of their parents and grandparents to rejuvenate this important part of French culture. There are about 11,000 small farms in Normandy that grow cider apples and produce cider today, making most of it for a local clientele.  You'll find cider producers in the Normandy, Brittany and Hauts de France regions.

In Brittany cidre is always drunk with galettes (savory pancakes). I have no idea which type of cidre you would drink with a galette, would it depend on what you had inside the galette?. Anyway, cidre in Brittany is always drunk from a cup, never a glass. I have no idea why. I have so much more to learn about cidre.

cidre

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 17th June 2020

Poète Ferrailleur

 This 'Metal Worker Extraordinaire' is located near Lizio and must be seen. Using recycled materials this local artisan creates moving, musical and even aquatic sculptures. He's also quite keen on building weird moving machines and bizarre games. There's over sixty moving works of art. Children can push buttons, pedal things, turn odd looking handles and the 'sculptures' all come to life. It really is amazing.

We have visited ‘Poète Ferrailleur’ several times and each time I am amazed by the sculptures, they are beautiful, magical and very very clever. He uses broken machines, games, music and the wind to create the most extraordinary sculptures.

Take time to see the film about the ‘Poète”, Robert Coudray. I watch it every time! 

Here is a short video to show you some of the 60 sculptures you will discover at  

poete

 

 

 

Thursday, 11th June 2020 

Vannes

Our gites are equidistant from the two main cities in Morbihan, Vannes and Rennes.

Vannes is about a 40 minute drive and is well worth the drive. Vannes was founded over 2,000 years ago at the inland edge of the Gulf of Morbihan. Its growth was based on its harbour which was very busy until the 19th century. Now it is home for many luxury yachts !.

Not only is Vannes the administrative centre for the Department of Morbihan it is also famous for its heritage. The town grew sharply after the second world war, with the construction of a ring road and several office and industrial developments. However, Vannes was able to preserve its ancient centre thanks to the conservation and enhancement plan approved in 1982.

A day just won’t be enough to see everything ! :-

Historical Vannes
The main gate into Vannes is the Porte St Vincent Ferrier, named after the Spanish monk who died in the town in 1419. As you stroll through the medieval streets you will soak up the history of this ancient city. You will arrive at Place des Lices which once hosted jousting tournaments but it is now the venue of an open-air market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings.

Archaeology and Art.
Vannes has two museums within its walls: the Château Gaillard, a 15th-century mansion house, accommodates the museum of archaeology and the town’s history while La Cohue, a 13th-century covered market that hosted the Breton Parliament from 1675-89, is now the museum of fine arts.

Events and Festivals.
Vannes has a full annual events calendar, which includes an annual jazz festival in August, photographic festivals and not to be missed is the Fêtes Historiques which is held over 3 days every July. You will be immersed into Medieval France, visit the blacksmith’s forge or the coin-makers’ workshop, admire the falconry displays and the artillery demonstrations, or just enjoy a taste of medieval cuisine. And the magic doesn’t end there, for as night falls you can join in the local open-air dance, or bal populaire, and be amazed as the fire-eaters take to the streets.

Fish, boats and butterflies
The Parc du Golfe is about a mile south of the town centre and it’s here that you join boat trips around the Gulf of Morbihan. This is also the place to head for if you have children, as there’s an aquarium with a huge collection of tropical fish and the Jardin aux Papillons, a glass dome filled with vegetation where hundreds of butterflies fly free.

Vannes

 

 

 

Friday, 5th June 2020

Discover a real working 16th century Breton village!

Poul Fetan near Quistinic, a fantastic place, a real 16th century village. For many years this small village was abandoned and left to decay but thanks to a small number of volunteers and a lot of European grants (I’m guessing!!), Poul Fetan has been restored to its former glory.
 
The guides giving the village tours are excellent. Did you know that only the man of the house has a knife. The rest of the family eat with spoons and when the man puts his knife away the meal is over…so eat fast!. Three generations would cram into a tiny room shared with pigs, cows, a pig and chickens. Up to six children would sleep in a tiny bed in a wardrobe !!.


Throughout the day there are continual demonstrations from watching a couple of women washing by the stream…. They gossip continually as they would in the 16th century and of course the butt of many jokes (and complaints !) is the mother in law. We saw how butter was made in the 16th century.. they certainly had some tricks to make the butter yellow. Ironing was very important… but the weight of those irons.  Hemp is transformed into cord and cloth and it is surprisingly soft and of course try some buckwheat pancakes cooked over an open fire.

Take a picnic or eat a traditional 16th century lunch in the auberge. When we visited there was a pig roasting on a spit and we feated on roast pork... which was absolutely delicious!


If you are coming to Brittany, Poul Fetan is well worth a visit. We were there for over five hours and I still don’t think we saw everything.

Poul Fetan 4

 

 

 

Thursday, 28th May 2020

Bread Facts !..

How the humble baguette has changed (or not changed!) over the years!

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Wednesday, 20th May 2020

Discounted weeks

France is the perfect choice for your holiday; travel by ferry or tunnel to the wide open spaces, fresh air and sunny skies of Southern Brittany and come and stay in one of our quiet gites away from all the noise and hubbub of the big towns. Book now ! we still have a few weeks availble in July and August

There's La Maison Violette: a spacious gite for two people all on one floor; La Maison Bleue sleeping four and tucked away on the edge of a small Brittany village close to a restaurant. Perhaps La Maison Blanche- sleeping five- is the place for you if you fancy relaxing in the stunning Brittany countryside. Alternatively, La Maison Crème, sleeping eight is a light and airy detached house is just a few hundred yards from the local auberge


The cottages include free Wi-Fi, British or French television, DVD players, comfy leather settees, cots, dishwashers, washing machines and private gardens with barbeques etc. Prices per house start from only £225 per week for two people in La Maison Orange and £245 for four at La Maison Rose

There's lots of things to see and do closeby and we've compiled a huge guide of all the best places to visit- please have a look at the Things to do in Brittany page on this website (frenchgites.com)

Booking's easy- choose one of our gites in Brittany, don't forget to check out all of the discounted weeks on the  Special Offers Page    Then, just call or e mail to check availability,  fill in the online booking form and we will do the rest!

rose

 

 

 

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