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Brittany……the Wild West of France

After several days in Paris we took the fast TGV train to Brest, a city near the far west coast of France. It was a 3 hour luxurious ride in a smooth running train that sped up to 120 mph!

In Brest we took a cab to the airport and picked up our rental car, a Renault Kadjar. We rented through the Renault Euro Drive program which is much less expensive than your typical rentals and they provide a brand new reliable car! This was our vehicle for the next 7 weeks.

We spent 5 days in Lanildut, a coastal town where fishing and seaweed harvesting are prolific. The walks along the rugged coastline and drives to other coastal towns were thrilling.

Here’s a photo of our Homeaway rental in Lanildut. The style and size is typical Breton, but it’s new, built in the 1970s.

It had a charming artistic decor

Here’s a view of the sea

Notice the seaweed and the low tide. The seaweed is harvested in this area and used in food products and in the health and beauty products.

La Pointe Saint-Mathieu is an eerie open air abbey ruin on the coast

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Beautiful stone homes like these

The prehistoric menhirs and dolmen are found throughout the area

Lanildut has beautiful walking paths

Coastal views at low tide

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I’ll start with crepes. They are popular in Brittany and Normandy. You’ll find people making crepes at the markets and in cafes. They stack them up and the locals buy them by the bunch at the markets. You’ll even see them factory made wrapped in plastic in the grocery stores.

The light brown colored buckwheat crepe is served with savory foods and the light flour crepes are for dessert fillings. People buy a crepe at the market with a bit of filling in it, wrapped in paper, and walk around the market. Even in the cold and blowing rain, they walk and eat their crepes, usually filled with a little butter and sugar or Nutella. Or plain, as you like!

At a cafe this buckwheat crepe filled with a little cheese is folded into a square and placed over plain lettuce. Voila!

Boulangeries and patisseries are in every little town in Brittany. This is France though it has a British feel. A favorite Breton pastry is called Far Breton. It is similar to flan, but does not have a pastry crust. It’s also very similar to a Scandinavian breakfast food called Aggkaka. Far is made of a batter of eggs, milk, flour and a little bit of sugar, as is Aggkaka. The difference is Far batter is refrigerated a few hours. Then it is poured into a baking pan, baked, cooled and cut in squares. Sometimes prunes, raisins or apples are added to the batter.

Here is the traditional Far Breton with prunes. This one is very thick and high

Here’s other Fars that aren’t as thick, which we saw more often. Notice the different sizes of the whole Fars which are baked in different sizes of baking pans.

This Far Breton has apples

Another pastry popular in Brittany is Gateau Breton. It’s very rich and made with lots of butter. Breizh means Breton or Brittany or Bretagne. This region has Celtic roots and uses the Celtic language.

The cake above and below is the Breton cake that is made with butter and lots of sugar. It’s very rich and crispy.

Other pastries in Brittany you also find all over France. Such as the almond croissant and the raisin swirled pastry below

Here is a view of some of the other fancy pastries in the shops

One of our favorite lunches was the pizza like squares at the patisserie

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The farm market in St-Renen offered many food options including takeaway prepared foods. Here we bought escargot that were farm raised and prepared with a butter garlic mixture, placed back in each shell ready to heat in our oven at home

This vendor roasted potatoes over a wood fire and then added a variety of different toppings all layered over cream, ready to heat up at home

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Big trays of potato gratin were popular. You could buy any amount. All had cheese and cream. Some also added ham

Fish and shell fish of course. Crabs and oysters too!

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The fresh produce was colorful! The French most all have leeks in their baskets. Turnips and celery root are common purchases too!

We had some surprises when dining out on the west coast of Brittany. An Irish pub recommended for it’s delish fish and chips also served wonderful scallops with squid ink risotto! Another restaurant added seaweed to its bread and creme brûlée! That was shocking!

Fried fish and French fries

Scallops and squid ink risotto in a cream sauce

We were introduced to goats milk and yogurt! They are delicious! A bit more of a tang than cows milk and yogurt

The landscape of the farmland is dramatic. The roads are lined with plant material covered fences. The old stone fences are not even seen through the thick plants, shrubs and trees.

On March 16, 1978 The Amoco Cadiz ran aground on Portsall Rocks 5 km from the coast of Brittany. The Lanildut community was remembering this 40 year anniversary by watching a documentary. The ship split in 3 and spilled 68 million gallons of oil along 240 miles of Brittany’s coast. The coastline is beautiful today and it has been a pleasure spending time here in Lanildut.