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Regions of France - Bretagne

One of France's most rugged regions, Brittany, or Bretagne in French, is a land of enchantment. Featuring rugged coastlines with some of the world's most breathtaking views, it also boasts more than 4,000 chateaux, manors and medieval homes. It's the perfect spot for water sports enthusiasts, lovers of fine cuisine especially seafood, and anyone fascinated by legends and history.

Brittany's craggy 1,200 km coastline is characterized by dramatic cliffs, capes, islands, rocks and reefs. The coast is most spectacular at high tide, and the difference between high and low-tide is among the world's greatest – up to 15m with an huge distance between the high and low-tide marks - up to 19km at the Bay of Saint-Michel. Incoming tides are swift and visually impressive with waves up to 30m high. The sound is deafening and its shock can be felt up to 30km away.

The historical province of Brittany is divided into five departments: Finistère, Côtes-d'Armor, Ille-et-Vilainet, the Loire-Atlantique and Morbihan. The capital is the delightful city of Rennes.

It's thought the region was inhabited before 8000 BC although little is known about these early settlers. Brittany is famous for the great prehistoric megalithic monuments, known as menhirs and dolmens that can still be seen throughout the region with many near the town of Carnac. Most likely constructed between 3500 and 1800 BC, the purpose of these monuments is unknown and many locals are reluctant to entertain speculation on the subject.

A Celtic duchy for more than one thousand years before its annexation to France in 1532, Brittany is a land rich in culture, tradition and history. Journey through the region and you'll discover a people whose language, customs and dress remain a vivid homage to their past.

Brittany developed a unique culture due to its long isolation from the rest of France. Until the early 19th century, most residents spoke Breton and their everyday dress consisted of distinct local costumes. Today, most Bretons speak French and wear modern clothing, while just 20% of the population can speak Breton. Only a small number of people, mostly older women, still wear traditional costumes with the coiffes or hats of lace on a daily basis although many wear them for special occasions.

Brittany accounts for about a third of France's fishing catch, so it's no surprise that seafood is a specialty with mussels and oysters very popular. Brittany is also the crepe capital of the world. The oversized panfried pancakelike crepes or galettes can be made of wheat or buckwheat flour (blé noir) and filled with sweet or savoury ingredients. La Galette Saucisse, a hot grilled pure pork Breton sausage wrapped in a cold galette, is the "fast food" of Eastern Brittany.

Brittany also has a dish similar to the pot-au-feu known as the Kig ha farz, consisting of stewed pork or beef with buckwheat dumplings. Other traditional fare includes butter cake or kouign amann, or far, a sort of sweet Yorkshire pudding, and clafoutis with prunes.

Although some white wine is produced near the Loire, the traditional drinks of Brittany are: cider (Brittany is the second largest cider-producing region in France), beer and mead made from wild honey called chouchenn, as well as an apple eau de vie called lambig. Another recent drink is kir Breton (crème de cassis and cider) which may be served as an apéritif.

Brittany has a vibrant calendar of festivals and events. Several are maritime themed while others reflect Brittanys lively music heritage or the region's diverse culture. Brittany also hosts some of France's biggest contemporary music festivals.