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We travel to the interior of French Brittany in search of medieval villages, forests of legends and castles of fairy tales and we find, in addition to all that, with motorboats and electric bicycles, Breton cola drinks and an updated gastronomy that has not lost not a hint of the identity that defines this region in northwest France .See 11 photos
The 10 most beautiful villages in Brittany
FIRST STOP: RENNES
The mere existence of the Parliament of Brittany, located in its capital, Rennes, gives an idea of the political and cultural importance of this region in French history.
Today, converted into the headquarters of the Superior Court of Justice of Brittany, it is striking how, while you are bewitched by the wooden coffered ceilings and statues of justice of the Procurators room, known as the hall of lost steps, on the other side of the door, abroad, contemporary attorneys and attorneys continue to 'lose their footsteps' pending judicial decisions.
Four years of restoration were necessary to bring this 17th-century building to life after the roof structure gave way after a devastating fire started by a social protest in 1994.
This is how Breton sailors spend them when they get the price of fish. A strong and entrenched local character present, in addition to the Breton language, in that Celtic DNA arrived from the southwest of Great Britain during the great waves of immigration of the 5th and 6th centuries.
Chamber of Parliamentarians in Rennes, designed by Charles Errard, painter of Louis XIV. © Marta Sahelices
In the Council of the Grand Chamber, which was the office of the first presidents of parliament, it will hurt your neck to look up to see every little detail of the caisson (or coffered ceiling) adorned with French- inspired canvases inspired by the Renaissance Italian.
The only roof that remained almost intact after the fire was that of the House of Parliamentarians. The whole room was designed by Charles Errard, painter of Louis XIV and author of the decoration of the first Versailles, whose footprint was progressively erased in France by the arrival of new decorative styles.
Not so in the Breton Parliament, so the Grand Chamber is considered an ornamental rarity, even though Napoleon filled all the walls with its gigantic 'N' and its symbolic bees.
16th-century Maison Ti-Koz in Rennes: half-timbered and built in cantilever with three overlapping floors. © Marta Sahelices
Other points of interest of Rennes are its cathedral, which began to be built in the Renaissance style and ended up being neoclassical, and its Mordelaises Gates, the remains of the fortification of the fifteenth century that surrounded the city and are about to be restored.
More than 280 half-timbered houses decorate the lively streets of Rennes with their different shades.
This type of medieval buildings that lasted until the Renaissance (with changes in structure and ornamentation) are a refuge today for university students, who live in their tiny apartments and drink in the breweries and bars that house their basement.
One of the most striking of the old town of Rennes is the so-called Ti coz ('old house' in Breton). Built for the canons of the nearby cathedral, it dates from the first quarter of the 16th century and its peculiarity lies in its structure of two houses in one.
Today in the house Ti coz, at number 3 of the Rue Saint-Guillaume, there is a well-known nightclub that goes by the name of The Theater, but through its windows with stained glass windows, the guests of the inn that went and also looked diners of the Michelin-starred restaurant that occupied it and the subsequent creperie it became.
One of the contemporary works exhibited in the Eleven art gallery in Rennes. © Marta Sahelices
'LA' STREET OF RENNES
Rue du Chapitre is one of the most important arteries in the city. Here delicatessen shops like La fine épicerie coexist with art galleries such as Eleven and alternative boutiques such as Grammage, whose vintage aesthetic ranges from swimsuits with drawings of sailors to brass cups, through t-shirts with old legends of the Breton football team.
There is also a very special place in which to try the Breton dish par excellence: the crêpes (galette, in its salty version made with buckwheat).
Any crêpe in the Crêperie Saint Georges bears George's name: a Georges Braque (with brie, grapes and fig jam), a Georges-de-la-Tour (with honey and goat cheese) or a Giorgio Armani (with potatoes, duck breast and salt flower). The Breton norm dictates that first you have to eat a galette and then a crêpe, but you may need Celtic DNA to face such a culinary challenge.
Crêperie Saint Georges, in Rennes, where each Crêpe bears the name of George. © Crêperie Saint Georges
SECOND STOP: JOSSELIN
Walking and exploring the medieval district of Sainte-Croix, emerged around the Château de Josselin, is a real pleasure for the senses. Their houses with colored wooden frames will make you live a visual overstimulation.
Its artisan patisseries will make you salivate with two of the most typical Breton desserts: their Bretons pallets (butter cookies) and their kouign-amann (butter tarts).
One of the best is the Biscuiterie Merlin, where "100% 100% Breton artisan" Philippe Danet crowns the gâteau breton (Breton cakes) with a white icing of sugar or a yellow lemon.
You will feel the Breton gastronomic traditions in the La Table d'O restaurant, with breathtaking views of the castle and the Oust Valley from your table. In its weekend menu you will find from spiced beef fillet, vegetable curries and grenailles potatoes to a crispy galette of honey-foie gras with honey and onion fondue.
Colored meringues, gâteau breton with white glaze and kouign-amann, in Biscuiterie Merlin (Josselin). © Marta Sahelices
You will be surrounded by the sound of nature when you sail by electric boat through the Nantes to Brest canal that Napoleon built in order to transport goods and food through the interior of France. Ti War An Dour, which has two houseboats on the banks of the canal, is the company that rents them, as well as the electric bicycles with which to get carried along the banks of the Oust River.
The most common picture of the castle of Josselin, in flamboyant Gothic style, is that taken from the water, as it looks impressive twice as its towers are reflected in the dark water of the canal. However, I prefer to take a picture from the top of the tower of the Basilica of Notre Dame du Roncier to get a different perspective, but also as testimonial evidence that I was able to climb its 140 steps.
Josselin's castle from the top of the cathedral tower. © Marta Sahelices
THIRD STOP: ROCHEFORT-EN-TERRE
France has a total of 117 protected municipalities that bear the label of "Small village with character". Well, among all of them, Rochefort-en-Terre has been chosen this year as the most beautiful in the country by the French because of its many peculiarities: its castle, its cobbled streets, its typical architecture of stone houses, its flowers and vegetation and its artisan workshops.
In Artisanat d'Art Creations Originals they sell paintings baptized as écoliers in which they create an artistic composition with photographs and old documents accompanied by various points of fountain pens and a text written in ink with them.
In Madame Chamotte there are soaps, perfumes and wind chimes. L'Orée du Bois manufactures handmade wooden toys. In Le Puits des Gourmandises there is a line to buy the best kouign-amann from Brittany. And the lamps that Romuald creates in L'Ardoiserie have come out even in a French television program.
Nougats in Rochefort-en-Terre, in French Brittany, are shaped like giant cheese. © Marta Sahelices
In L'Art Gourmand, the specialty is chocolate candy and, door to door, in the same Rue du Château, another pastry shop surprises with its huge artisanal nougat in the shape of giant cheeses.
For its part, the classic cuisine and the extremely authentic atmosphere of the Le Pelican restaurant - including the open fireplace that occupies half the wall of the premises - will help you integrate into the medieval spirit of the town.
It doesn't matter how many sweets or galettes you eat in Brittany, because the desktop always comes with an idyllic walk to the top of a castle. The Rochefort-en-Terre was restored at the beginning of the 20th century by the American painter Alfred Klots, who bought it in ruins and brought it back to life.
The idyllic Rochefort-en-Terre villa, chosen as the most beautiful in France by the French. © Marta Sahelices
WHERE TO SLEEP
-Le Relais de Brocéliande: a three-star hotel with 24 spacious rooms, located in the historic city of Paimpont, in the heart of the Brocéliande forest. Built with local stone, it boasts a spa, but above all a restaurant, since its chef practices a current Breton cuisine based on seasonal ingredients. At breakfast, in addition to the typical butter sweets, you will find fruit jams, honey and salted butter caramel made by producers in the region .
- Hotel Roi Arthur: on the edge of the Brocéliande forest, this four star hotel is located next to Lake Lac au Duc and has a golf course and a spa with a water area and relaxing beauty treatments. Its restaurant, Les Chevaliers, uses regional and organic products, such as the delicious oysters included in its menu. It is worth losing some time on its beautiful hydrangea path.
- Ti War An Dour: two houseboats on the banks of the Nantes to Brest canal with all the comforts of an apartment. They are ecological and respect the environment and each have a capacity for four people.
Ti War An Dour: two houseboats on the banks of the Nantes to Brest canal in Brittany. © Marta Sahelices
HOW TO GET
Two direct routes to the region of Brittany have the company Iberia Express, which has a digital entertainment system on board with which you can access from your mobile or tablet all multimedia content posted on your Club Express Onboard.
The first route is to the city of Rennes, which operates on Thursdays and Sundays, with departures from Madrid at 11.00 on Thursdays or 11.25 hours on Sundays, and from Rennes Saint Jacques Airport at 13.10 hours on Thursdays or 13.35 hours on Sundays (from 39 euros each way).
In the city of Nantes, Iberia Express operates a total of four weekly frequencies: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. At 6.30 pm on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays and at 7.25 hours on Wednesdays from Madrid, and from Nantes Atlantique airport, at 8.30 pm on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays or 9.30 am on Wednesdays (from 29 euros each way).
Of the 117 'Small villas with character of France', the most beautiful this year is Rochefort-en-Terre. © GUILLAUDEAU DonatienneSee 11 photos
The 10 most beautiful villages in Brittany