Experiencing Brittany by Bicycle
by Jonathan Hancock, ExperiencePlus! Tour Leader in France
I’m very excited to be able to share with you the wonderful and unique area of France called Brittany. You have certainly heard this word like the name Provence is heard throughout the world. But if you have ever actually had the chance to visit you know how remarkably different it is from the rest of France.
My relation to this area started during college when I spent a semester studying at the University of Rennes. When I first arrived I discovered that there was something very wrong with the picture I had in front of me. Several things didn’t fit into the typical image I had of France and the French. As I wandered over the cobblestone and around the half-timbered houses, I heard bagpipes and read words that were not to be found in my dictionary. I even went as far as to order my first galette saucisse, a buckwheat crêpe wrapped around a sausage- the Breton version of a hot dog! But this was just a drop in the bucket. The more I explored Rennes and the rest of Brittany the more people I met that proudly displayed and expressed their distinct, rich differences in language, cuisine, landscape, and heritage.
After college my connection with Brittany grew even stronger when my wife, Anne, captivated me with her childhood stories of summers spent along Breton coast. Grandiose beaches and breathtaking cliffs as her setting, she would divide her time between swimming, walks among the fascinating granite formations, and delicious galettes topped off with Breton cider.
Now we steal away to this amazing region of France to catch a glimpse of not only the gorgeous coastline and picturesque harbors but also of the fascinating history written in the Celtic stones and megaliths scattered throughout the interior. Brittany is a mysterious place made of legends inspired by stories and people such as King Arthur, the Druids, and the fearless Corsairs. Sacred places like the Mont St Michel, a thousand-year-old abbey transformed into an island everyday, add to the spectacular allure of the area. Then, when all this culture awakens our appetites, we dive into Brittany’s renowned seafood and pastries. The truth is every time we visit we know that what is waiting for us is a part of the best France has to offer. And, of course, when we go we never forget our bikes.
The Breton people have always considered themselves different from the rest of France. Through almost seven centuries of determination and struggle for independence they were able to define and protect their unique heritage. As travelers we can now savor all of these fascinating differences. ExperiencePlus! has designed a Brittany Bicycle Tour that emphasizes the qualities that have brought Anne and I to fall in love with this extraordinary region. Our team is looking forward to you joining us on this adventure.
See you soon!