The south shore of Brittany is beautiful in the summer, cold and windy in the winter. It can rain in the summer, but it's a cleansing rain. Here are some of the places we saw and enjoyed. Keep in mind that the Bretons celebrate their Celtic past with music, festivals, crafts shows, parades, concerts, dances and everything short of a full-scale nuclear explosion beginning the last week in July and running into the first couple of weeks of August.
- GUIDEL: Where we stayed. A small town with four hair salons and three bread shops, most situated on the traffic circle around the main church. Good beaches, nice little outdoor restaurants on the boardwalk. Notre Dame de Pitie, a small church where we heard the Bach concert, is worth seeing, up a small inlet away from the beach. Boat rentals, kayaks, windsurfers, the usual array of ocean playthings. Don't eat the clams you find on the beach.- ILE DE GROIX: A splendid little island where you can rent bikes in the main port area and canvass the island, going to beaches, through farm country and a tiny village or two. To get there, you take a ferry out of Lorient, a college town that has a highly respected museum on the history of the French East India trade, but I could never find it because I found Lorient to be a very confusing town to drive in.
- DOELIN: Really nice little port town. Take a hike along a seaside bluff immediately to the north of town on a trail and you'll encounter some really pretty and inviting lagoons for swimming and picnicking.
- STE. ANNE D'AURAY: Saint Anne was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the patron saint of Brittany. Every July, tens of thousands come here to pay homage. We went the day before the homage and found a very quiet little town with a couple of memorable things to see, the basilica, built in the 19th century to reflect the Renaissance style, and the Great War Memorial, a massive horseshoe wall similar to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., in concept, but on its own, a flowing record of the dead from Brittany in World War I. Very moving.
- CONCARNEAU: The ramparts of the walled city are great to walk on for views of this port city and the ocean, and there are several good restaurants across from there. A plate of mussels is highly recommended.
- QUIMPER: This is the site of one of the biggest Celtic festivals.