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Text and photos by Kaarina Griffiths.
Sample cider and sardines
A visit to Quiberon’s bustling weekly market is a must on Saturday. The wafting aromas of sausages and crêpes fill the air as locals fill their baskets with locally farmed oysters, artisan cheeses, earthy ciders and heavenly cakes.
The local speciality is crispy fried sardines, a classic item on the menu in the old Quai Ouest harbour restaurant. Its owner, Madame Nathalie Harry, recalls when the people of Quiberon earned their living from sardine fishing – today tourism is the local mainstay.
Peek into a pirates’ cove
The eight-kilometre Côte Sauvage is an easy, well-signposted hike that runs from the fishing town of Quiberon to Pointe Beg en Aud in the west.
In Port Bara, take a peek into the smugglers’ cave, which is accessible at low tide. Pirates once lit fires on these beaches to lure ships onto the craggy rocks. The sheltered sandy cove seems an ideal place for a swim, but the strong currents are dangerous – a fact that seems not to bother the surfers fearlessly riding the high waves. Le Vivier’s stony lookout is a good spot for fresh seafood, cold cider and stunning views over the Bay of Biscay.
Clam up and dig
When the tide is low, seashell gatherers get busy on La Trinité-sur-Mer’s wet beach. They comb the sand with rakes, whilst children splash in rock pools squealing with joy. Even out-of-towners can quickly learn to identify the treasures of the sea: whelks, mussels, oysters, long razor clams and even rare abalones – just don’t get stranded on the beach at high tide!
Watch for goblins
Biking is a relaxed way to explore the coastal villages. The narrow roads wind through hamlets of old stone houses and past lush meadows. The signposts are both in English and Breton. The locals may warn you about the wicked goblins, les lutins, who like to push people off their bikes for fun. Brittany teems with legends happily mixing superstition and religion. Bretons are proud of their language and Celtic ancestors, chief amongst them the mystical King Arthur.
La Poêle à Crêpes is a restaurant on Carnac beach famous for its Breton pancakes – savoury galettes filled with cheese, and golden crêpes with caramel sauce. Magnifique!
See French Stonehenge
The long rows of hundreds of standing stones take you aback: Carnac is the largest megalithic site in the world. It was a cult and burial place of the Celts 6,000 years ago – the kind of place you can well imagine a druid priest performing strange rituals in the moonlight. The site is also a huge astrological calendar: the stones are positioned to measure the movements of the planets. The area is open all year round and boasts a Prehistory Museum, a Celtic souvenir shop and an outdoor café.
This article was first published in the September 2015 issue of Finnair's monthly in-flight magazine Blue Wings.