With Christmas fast approaching, towns and villages across Brittany have bedecked themselves with some glorious festive illuminations. Unfortunately, travel restrictions imposed as part of the measures to limit the spread of covid-19 have meant that is has been impossible to see this year’s displays, so, this post must necessarily highlight a few memories of Christmas past.
Most municipal Christmas lights here were lit on the last Friday in November and will run until the third of January. Limits on public gatherings have, this year, seen the cancellation of the Christmas markets, parades, funfairs and outdoor ice rinks that usually form an integral part of the festive experience in many Breton towns. Some of the finest seasonal outings in Brittany were featured in a previous post, so, this one will just focus on a few places that were visited after that post was written.
The medieval hearts of the Breton towns of Dinan and Morlaix wear their Christmas decorations well; the coloured lights and projections create wonderful hues and shadows on the old timber-framed buildings. Situated between these two northern towns, Saint-Brieuc now boasts festive illuminations and decorations that rival its neighbours; with many kilometres of downtown lights.
In the west of Brittany, the town of Landerneau boasts the only bridge in Europe that still has people living on it; a feature that is at the heart of its colourful festive displays.
Hailed as one of the prettiest villages in France, the picturesque small town of Locronan has established a well-deserved reputation for the magical ambience created by its Christmas lights and festive illuminations. The narrow cobbled streets, courtyards and buildings are adorned with lights and decorations, creating a wonderful atmosphere in which to wander around this little town.
Full of character, the southern city of Quimper is another medieval town that makes great use of colour and lights to showcase its half-timbered buildings, old city walls and historic cathedral to best effect.
If you are partial to Christmas illuminations set against a stunning backdrop then the medieval city of Vannes will not disappoint; from the projections on the medieval ramparts to the curtains of light that overhang the cobbled streets of the old town.
Just a little west of Vannes, the coastal town of Auray boasts a wonderful array of lights and Christmas decorations with the town square and its picturesque harbour being particular highlights.
A picture perfect village regularly ranked among the most beautiful villages in France, Rochefort-en-Terre is a town that knows how to display itself to best effect and at Christmastime it does so spectacularly. The cobbled streets and alleys are beautifully illuminated by the sparkling of tens of thousands of pretty lights and festive garlands.
The historic centre of the small town of Josselin is another delightful place in which to wander around at dusk during December.
It is not only towns that put on festive light shows here; several historic monuments also stage Christmas spectacles using coloured lights and projections to wonderful effect. The three best known are perhaps those at the Château de Trévarez, the Abbaye de Beauport at Paimpol and the Abbaye de Bon-Repos at Laniscat.
Hopefully, the world will return to something approaching normalcy next year and we can, once again, enjoy the sights of Brittany at Christmas.