It is France but somehow it seems not. It is the same as Wales or Ireland but it is not. It often feels like an independent nation but it is not and has not been for several hundred years. Brittany (Breizh in Breton or Bretagne in French) is different! Lazy comparisons are too easy to cast about and a measured analysis would take a decade or more and still leave us scratching around for an agreeable descriptor. So, let us just agree to say that Brittany is unique.
The traveller to Brittany will see signs of this uniqueness all around, it is not just the (predominantly) bilingual road signs or the omnipresent bigoudène-adorned figure on the backs of cars that make Brittany different from the rest of Metropolitan France or elsewhere. Although both are probably the biggest public manifestation of that especial difference.
So, what else helps contribute to Brittany’s uniqueness? The Breton language certainly, although, for a variety of reasons, it’s quite unusual to hear anyone between the ages of 20 and 70 speaking it in the street. The spoken French, in terms of accent and tonality, is different too but, thanks to television, markedly less so nowadays in the younger generation. The culture is assuredly distinct and there is a strong sense of national identity entwined with this: a shared pride in the uniqueness of Brittany’s rich cultural heritage.
What has, despite the odds, fostered and nurtured a distinct and thriving Breton culture into the 21st century is a fascinating subject but probably unfit for the limited confines of a blog such as this. Instead, I hope to use this blog to highlight some of the noticeable things that, for me, make Brittany interestingly different from other places. You can therefore expect postings on cultural events, festivals, food and drink, folklore and legends, history, geography and landscapes.
I am no expert, so, please feel free to share your thoughts. Let us try and add some real colour to the Brittany travel guides and feature the best of Brittany for today’s inquisitive traveller.