(Text Source: ‘Times of India’ portal)
As a student on a scholarship in Europe, you try and save every Euro of stipend to be able to travel during your break. When the time came, we zeroed in on France. Paris and the South were the immediate considerations. But you can’t really wine and dine much on a stipend. So on a friend’s suggestion, we started packing for a more budget-friendly destination — Brittany, with its incredible beaches, canals and cycling and walking routes. Brittany lured us in more ways than one. While the prospect of exploring a picture-perfect destination from a cycle or short hikes indeed made economic sense, we were equally curious to dip into the history of ‘Little Britain’.
With miles of scenic coastal roads and plenty of options for inland cycling along the canals, cycling is one of the most popular sports in Brittany, both on and off road. A self-guided cycling tour can take you through castles, feudal fortresses and abbeys waiting to be visited. For a cycling enthusiast, the region is a dream with scenic routes, the most popular being a 175-km ride traversing across the region. For us, students on a short break, a 70-km leisurely ride from small-town Redon to Nantes, one of the nicest cities in France, was what we all could agree to. The cycle path runs along River Oust and Nantes-Brest Canal. Having already been smitten by Brittany’s beauty, we decided to pedal at a relaxed pace to enjoy villages or ‘communes’ en route, stop and sip popular local ciders and feast on a variety of crepes on offer. Just make sure to pre-check the difficulty level and distance of a cycling route before deciding on one.
Brittany is surrounded by the English Channel and Celtic Seaz. The Breton people still follow the Celtic traditions of Cornwall and Wales from across the channel including their own language – Breton. Primarily, the region is divided into Ar-Mor, the land by the sea, and Ar-Goat, the land of the forest. It is one destination where people come for long hiking vacations from across Europe and the world. It boasts of a beautiful seaside peninsula region, religious heritage sites and beaches. Paimpont and Huelgoat form the inland part of Brittany dotted with magnificent lakes and dense forests.
From traversing the religious footsteps of ‘Way of Saint James’ for days on end to exploring majestic bay area Pointe du Raz on foot for few days, walking trails here can extend over hundreds of kilometres and can last for a few days to even months. We opted for the shortest hop — a 40-km trek — that we completed in two days around Lac de Guerledan or Guerledan Lake, the region’s largest inland water body and an artificial lake that was created to power a dam. The Forest of Quenecan is located on the south of the lake and is called ‘Swiss Brittany’. The trek in this Lake District is a dream union with nature. Spending the night listening to jungle noises and cooking our daily catch of fish remain the most memorable moments from this trek.
Don’t miss: Brittany is home to perfect sweet and savoury crepes and is fondly called ‘Cider Country’, being the second largest producer of cider in France. Galettes, savoury crepes, are the traditional food found everywhere.