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Thursday, 22 October 2015

My Week in Brittany

I've had an absolutely lovely week in Brittany with my mum and dad. We've roamed the Finistère region, admired its beautiful coastlines, and wandered its cobbled streets.

The region

I felt more at home in Brittany than I have done in other parts of France. I think it's because the roads are lined with huge arching trees like at home in Surrey! I found it easier to communicate, despite my lack of French - everybody was very kind and didn't seem to mind me butchering the national language. The food was amazing, too - often I have to rely on frites et une salade verte in France but this was not the case at all! The towns and beaches we visited were all beautiful, and the weather couldn't have been better.

Where we stayed

My parents have been bondholders with HPB since before I was born, so we almost always stay in their properties. This time we stayed in le Manoir du Hilguy, a converted 18th century chateau.

We actually stayed in what used to be the stables, but did get a look around the Manoir - it's like a vintage dream!

The food

The food has been brilliant. Vegetarian food can be hard to find in France and but I've had no problems this week. While nowhere was whipping out the tofu, everywhere we ate offered a cheese crêpe with veggie add-ons, a mushroom omlette or a goat's cheese salad. I didn't try the traditional eel!

Possibly the best thing I've ever eaten: un crêpe au fromage avec champignons du crème et poireaux
(a cheese crêpe with mushooms in cream and leeks) 

Goat's cheese salad with honey and almonds at Penn Ar Bed, Penhors

Dessert is where it gets fun for me because I have the whole menu to chose from - but I went for un crêpe avec caramel au buerre salé (salted caramel) every time. Seriously, it's better than chocolate.

One of many crêpes avec caramel au buerre salé, with an espresso to follow. Place au Buerre, Quimper

So. Much. Sugar.

Beautiful kouign amann in Quimper

The patisserie was brilliant too - biscuits are traditional Breton fare, but they were not your average Rich Tea - they were crisp, sweet, caramel-y and buttery. And speaking of butter, kouign amann, which literally means 'butter cake' in Breton, is possibly the most indulgent thing I'll ever eat. They're like a thick, dense, incredibly sweet, ridiculously buttery croissant cake. I was successfully tempted out of Sephora by one. That's how good they are.


Kerné cider and the traditional 'boulé' it's served in,
Penn Ar Bed, Penhors

Getting my cider on, Pont-Aven

Breton cider, all the time. I have a bottle in the fridge waiting for me. We discovered some amazing cider aperitifs: a 'Kir Breton', cider mixed with crème de cassis, and 'pommeau' a mix of cider and brandy. Suffice to say I got pretty tipsy!

Where we went

The beach at Ploven

Streets lined with art and antique shops, Pont-Aven

Beautiful walks by the river, Pont-Aven

The river Aven, Pont-Aven



Market wares in Pont-l'Abbé


View of Cathédrale Saint-Corentin, Quimper

Tradition ceramics makers, Quimper

Warm enough to eat outside in October! Place au Buerre, Quimper


Patissier, Locronan

Pointe du Millier



Pont-Aven was probably my favourite place - such a beautiful, relaxing town. Plus Gauguin used to live there, so I'm in good company in admiring it.


Makeup wise, I wore a full face on the first day but gradually wore less and less throughout the week. When there's a warm pain au chocolat waiting downstairs for you, you throw on a bit of moisturiser and run down before it gets cold/eaten!

A consistent skincare routine was essential though. I've had a frankly ridiculous amount of sun, sugar, cheese and alcohol and I was expecting my skin to show it, but I think all the walking and swimming I've done has counteracted that. [one week back home and my skin's so much worse!]

Two products I'm glad I packed:

Avène Suncream: it was much hotter than expected and our days were spent outside because of it. I applied this after day cream and kept it in my bag throughout the day, although I recall only needing to reapply it once.

Nivea Crème: a last minute, throw-in-the-bag choice, I used this as a night cream and woke up to softer, smoother skin. It's not fancy or glamorous in any way, but I found it useful for an extra night-time skin recharge.

Wearing Nars Trans-Siberian lipstick on the beach at Ploven

Makeup-free with lots of suncream - and looking chubbier - by the end of the week in Benodet


I wouldn't be a holiday if I didn't find some cats to befriend. I found some butterflies and bees too, but they were much less interested in human interaction.

Socks, part of the sixth generation of Manoir de Hilguy cats, chilling out in the sun

Isabelle, his beautiful mum, soaking up the last of the sun

It goes without saying that I completely recommend Brittany!

I'm learning French for the first time since I was 15 so that next time I go I'll know how to say more than 'je voudrais [insert food here]'.

Thanks for reading!