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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 9 December, 2016

5 hidden gems in Brittany to discover with the family

Planning your summer holidays? Put France on the list.

IT’S THAT TIME of year again – time to start dreaming about summer getaways.

France is just a hop, skip and a jump across the water – and if you take the ferry, that means you’ll have the freedom of discovering tucked-away gems in your car.

Let’s take a look at some of the nooks and crannies off the beaten track in beautiful Brittany, all waiting for you to explore…

1. Prehistoric Carnac

Famed worldwide for its dolmens (which might look familiar to you from our own Irish countryside), but also ancient structures like menhirs and megaliths made from ancient stone, stretching for miles around. Think Asterix and Obelix.

alignements de Carnac / Carnac stones Source: OliBac

2. Paimpont Forest

Paimpont Forest is what now remains of the ancient forest of Broceliande, famously linked with King Arthur and Merlin. The forest still has a touch of magic about it, with the Fontaine de Barenton known to ancient Druids for its supernatural powers to cure, down to the church at Tréhorenteuc boasting mosaics and stained glass depicting Arthur and the Holy Grail.

Un tunnel de verdure Source: zabaraorg

3. Cancale

The coastal villages of Brittany are beautiful to wander around – filled to the brim with lovely cafés for people-watching the Parisians down for the weekend and local fishermen dragging in their nets of oysters. As well as Cancale, places such as Cape Fréhel, Montcontour, Becherel and the island of Ushant are all well worth a visit.

Côte d'Émeraude: cancale typical church 44.120.00 Source: Flickr

4. La Grande Brière

Now a regional nature park, La Grande Brière was once home to people who made their living in and around the water, thatching from the reeds and weaving baskets to fish. They poled their flat-bottomed boats between the many islets in the area, now home to such gems as the Bride’s House and Briéron Thatched Cottage for you to explore.

La pierre fendue, Grande Brière Source: pierre pouliquin

5. Festival of Breton Dance

One of the most unforgettable experiences not to be missed in Brittany is the local pardons, or religious festivals. Check out the one held in Plouguerneau on the last Sunday in June, or Quimper on the fourth Sunday in July. Imagine old Breton costume, stalls selling toys and sweetmeats, and the fun continuing long after the sun goes down.

Closeup of headdresses A close-up of headdresses at the Fete Filet Bleu in Concarneau - a festival of costume, music and dance Source: Gauis Caecilius

And, with Brittany Ferries, there’s never been an easier and more stress-free way to travel. The ferry from Cork to Roscoff takes just 14 hours – and you sail in cruise-style standards, with award-winning service. On board, facilities include pool and bar areas with sea views, two cinemas, shopping, spa treatments and a wide range of restaurants, as well as free Wi-Fi. New season sailings start on Saturday the 21st of March, find out more at brittanyferries.ie

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