Okay, you’d be hard-pressed to find any region of France that doesn’t have fantastic food and drink, but Brittany, spanning the country’s north-west, is hard to beat. What’s more, it’s easily reached from Portsmouth via the aptly-named Brittany Ferries, where you can set off on a tasty road trip, starting from the gateway port town of St Malo. This charming, historic walled city, with its beautiful natural harbour and alluring sandy beaches, was founded back around 1BC and has weathered attacks from the British, pirates, and German WW2 bombers through the centuries, making it the perfect setting for a fascinating foodie road trip that’s edifying in every sense of the word.
As you might imagine, Brittany’s proximity to the sea means you’ll find plenty of local seafood, from oysters to mussels and scallops – try La Cabane, for its wonderful seafood buffet, where you can literally eat as much as you like, or the stylish Restaurant Le Petit Be, situated within the ramparts, where amid the delicious, fresh fish you’ll also find meat and vegetarian dishes. Don’t miss other Breton specialities such as crêpes and galettes, both variations on a thin pancake made with wheat flour or buckwheat, with both sweet and savoury fillings; you’ll find several good crêperies around the port, like Le Tournesol or Le Gallo, with an inventive range of ingredients, from smoked salmon to asparagus. Then walk it off with a stroll across to the nearby, tiny island of Grand Be, home to the ruins of an ancient fort.
Continue your gastronomic journey by heading west along the wild and jagged Côte d’Emeraude (romantically named ‘The Emerald Coast’ after the glittering green shade of the sea). Make a stop at Sillon de Talbert, at the tip of the Trégor peninsula, a naturally-formed, long, thin sliver of land made up of sand and pebbles. It’s a magnet for seabirds and shellfish, and protected seaweed – known as ‘wrack’ – grows on its rocky shores. Shrimps, Palourde clams, spider crabs and more are harvested here, as is the wrack; for centuries, this seaweed was collected by boat and basket, but today they use tractors.
Fancy trying a local tipple? As you start heading south, you’re heading into cider territory. Build in a stay and sample this sharp, refreshing, apple-based beverage around Argol; the Maison du Cidre, a…