A tour of Brittany – from the coast to a fairy tale castle

The following day we set out along the coast, headed for Perros-guirec and Ploumanach, where the coast displays beautiful oddly shaped pink granite rocks. I was very curious to see them as I had not seen any photos and I was not disappointed. The rocks are huge, pinkish and round shaped- in fact some of them reminded me of hippopotamus! But the unusual colour of the rocks and the blue-grey-green of the sea were magical and the views breathtaking. It was windy and cool but still a pleasant walk among the rocks looking at the sea.

Then we headed to Brest. We would be staying in the outskirts as I had been warned Brest is not too interesting to visit – in fact the city was almost entirely destroyed during World War II and there is no “old town” to see. So we stayed at a small village called Porspoder, at a brand new Eco Hotel “Le Château de Sable” that was lovely and very comfortable. It faced the beach and the sea and was in fact built on the sand. It was all built in light-coloured woods and all the lights went out when we left the room or the toilet… really sustainable.

That evening we decided to stay in the village and at the hotel they recommended a few restaurants around five minutes of walking distance. We chose one of them and the food was very good; I ate some delicious “moules à la crème” (mussels with cream) with “frites “(chips) and they were delicious. Then we tasted a typical Breton dessert, “far Breton”, made with plums and cream, and it was very good as well.

After a good night’s sleep, breakfast was taken at a dining room with huge glass windows showing the sea and we just wanted to linger there. All the food was very fresh and natural – something we loved.

Before leaving we drove down to the beach – in fact not one but two small beaches with calm waters. Were it not so cool – even a bit cold – it would have been great to stay there and get some sun, but the wind was not inviting – nor was the temperature. People were walking around with their coats and anoraks on.

We left and continued towards the city of Brest. We went down to the port where we saw a huge tug boat used by the French navy to save ships in distress at sea. It was gigantic, when compared to the tug boats we are familiar with, those used at Lisbon estuary. But when we looked at a photo of this same tug boat pulling a gigantic carrier ship, it did not seem big at all!

From Brest we went to Quimper, a very nice city with a beautiful old quarter with some amazing medieval half-timbered houses such as we had seen in Rennes and Vitré– apparently something very typical of Brittany. We had lunch at a crêperie in St. Corentin cathedral’s square and we sat outside as it was sunny and warm – by far the warmest day since we had arrived. The previous days had been quite cool – around 20 degrees – and windy, but this was a hot day.

After lunch we walked the old streets admiring the old buildings and then we bought some souvenirs: coffee cups with the Breton flag for the boys, magnets for our friends and a few bottles of cider for ourselves!

Then we headed for the car as Nuno was carrying not less than six bottles in a box and it was heavy!

Our next destination was a hotel called “Le domaine de la Bretesche”, a castle turned into a hotel in a small village called Missillac, in the Vannes region (actually it was between Vannes and Nantes). This hotel had been recommended by a Breton lawyer that I know and when I googled it it looked wonderful. Not cheap, I admit – but still worth every cent, I thought then, and I was not disappointed.

When we arrived we saw this imposing castle  – as in a fairy tale – with grey walls and black turrets (the typical castle architecture in Brittany) – facing a lake, in the middle of a green park. It was breathtaking. As we drove the car through the gate, we could see the castle on the right and the hotel building – also in stone, like the castle – on our left. At the reception they later explained to us the story of this property: the castle was built in the 15th century and was then used for military purposes. The building that was now the hotel was built much later, in the 19th century, housing the services of the castle, such as horse stables and other facilities. We also learned that the castle had been transformed into a series of apartments now privately owned and inhabited, while the hotel belonged to a company.

The hotel was incredible. The corridors that led to the rooms were lit by torch-like lamps that really made it look like an old castle. The room was elegant, facing the inner courtyard of the square shaped building, with gardens and terraces. Soon we were out exploring the park and I had to have a closer look at the castle – and take innumerable photos, of course. As we were standing by the castle gate we saw a door open and a lady come out of the castle to walk her dog. It seemed so odd – for a normal person to live in a castle, and come out to the park to walk her dog! I felt so curious to see what these “castle apartments” looked like, I would have given a lot to see one of them but unfortunately that was not included in the hotel’s entertainments!

Anyway, we were very happy to be at that hotel and as we were quite tired of so much driving we decided to have dinner there, at the “Brasserie”. It was a lovely warm summer evening and we ate outside, facing a green lawn. There were several couples as well as families having dinner there and the atmosphere was quite relaxing.