The beguiling towns of Brittany are littered with quirky customs, interesting sites, beautiful architecture and unmissable markets where locals and visitors flock to week-in-week-out, to pick up fresh produce and unique items they wouldn’t find anywhere else.
November can be a cold, dark and long month, as we patiently wait for Christmas to arrive. Why not do something different this November by crossing the Channel and heading to the culturally autonomous land of Brittany? If you’re really looking for an excuse to visit Brittany this November, you could always go to the European Short Film Festival in Brest.
If there is one thing Brittany is renowned for it is its vast array of colourful, traditional and totally unique festivals. Not a month, or even a week, goes by without some kind of vibrant and traditional event taking place in this culturally autonomous region of France.
The Festival of Blue Nets is one such festival in Brittany, which provides the perfect setting for anyone wanting to become acquainted with traditional Breton culture at its most compelling.
If you’re into listening to cool and sophisticated music in the most compelling of surroundings, why not visit the Brittany Summer Jazz Festival in Vannes? The festival runs from 28 July – 2August.
The walled town of Vannes, which has been dubbed as being the most attractive sights in Brittany, comes alive with the sounds of jazz musicians. These talented jazz artists play in public parks and squares in the evening and in the streets during the daytime.
The line up at this popular jazz festival is always top class. Two years ago the sensational Buena Vista Social Club headlined. Other great jazz masters who have played Vannes include: Herbie Hancock, Stephane Grappelli, Wynton Marsalis, Diana Krall and Taj Mahal.
If you visit Vannes you’ll understand why it is regularly cited as the most quaint and spectacular town in Brittany. A walk around the atmospheric streets on a balmy summer’s evening is absolutely delightful. Medieval timber framed houses give the town character in abundance. Taking a bite to eat in a harbour-side restaurant is highly recommended. One especially interesting building is the Place des Lices where they used to hold jousting tournaments in a bygone age. Although it is easy to imagine that long forgotten scene with so much medieval authenticity around you.
Just outside the town walls lies the Chateau de l’Hermine, which boasts magnificent public gardens where one can amble away a few relaxing hours. Boat trips are available around the Gulf of Morbihan. Alternatively you could spend the day at one of Vannes comprehensive museums.
This town has got lots and if you are lucky enough to be not too far away from Vannes between 28 July and 2 August, it is definitely worth making the effort to check out the Summer Jazz Festival.
If you are looking for things to do when you embark your ferry at St Malo this October then you should pop in to the Quai des Bulles Festival. What can certainly be described as being a festival with a difference, approximately 400 comic strip artists will show you the art of the exclusive world of the cartoonist.
Held on the last weekend of October, a date that has been highlighted in Brittany’s cultural calendar for many decades, 100 stands will congregate in the town. Visitors can enjoy watching the cartoonists in action making their fantasy figures come alive in front of them. Some of the world’s best talent in the wonderful world of comics will be on display at the unmissable event. Attendees can even buy original cartoon art to hang on your wall back home as a keepsake of your Breton autumn holiday.
The artists themselves will compete against each other and prizes are awarded for the different categories such as the young artist or ‘Juenes Talents’ or the prestigious ‘Dunces Cap’ award, ironically prestigious given its name. There is also a cinema showing cartoons so visitors can see all the animated cartoon heroes and villains come to life in vivid techno colour.
St Malo itself is a beautiful and historic town with a quaint old city wall surrounding narrow streets filled with interesting shops, bars and restaurants. You might take the ferry here from England when you are on the way to your Vintage holiday villa. It’s always worth spending a good few hours in St Malo before you carry on with your journey.
So many of us charge off to our destination as soon as the boat docks but what’s the hurry? You are on holiday and your villa will surely wait another couple of hours whilst you check over St Malo and the cartoon festival. Alternatively, it would definitely be worth taking a day out to see the festival if you are already snugly ensconced in your holiday accommodation. Unusual comic art festivals in lovely seaside towns don’t come around too often.
Brittany and its brilliant love-affair with music festivals! Music festivals in Brittany take place throughout the year, in fact there is rarely a weekend in the province when some kind of musical event is not livening up the crisp and clear Breton air.
Les Hiverautes festival 2013
Ensuring springtime on Brittany gets off to a rocking start is Les Hiverautes festival which takes place in the town of Quimper. Held annually since 2000, this buoyant festival has proved to be an ongoing success, attracting a mounting crowd of festival revellers with each passing year. As Bretons simply love their music, the success Les Hiverautes comes easy for the promoters because everyone wants to go to the show!
Les Hiveraults festival of rock will take place on 6 – 9 of March 2013. A dozen or so acts will take place at the Theatre Max Jacob and ten other local groups will play at the Zik-Zak k-ti venue.
Panoramas Festival 2013
Next in line comes the Panoramas Festival held at the Breton town of Morlaix. This equally as popular music festival in Brittany has a mix of rock, rap electro and various other musical styles. Camping takes place and Panoramas has all the ingredients of a mini Glastonbury. Held in April every year, this festival is famed amongst other things for its concert by the swimming pool!
Other festivals take place around Brittany as the year moves on. The Route du Rock at St Malo and the Vieilles Charrues are among the biggest rock music festivals in France, the latter being huge, attracting even greater numbers than the United Kingdom’s Glastonbury.
Bryan Ferry, Iggy Pop, Motorhead, Franz Ferdinand and Babyshambles are just a handful of the acts which have appeared here since the festivals conception in 1992.
It is not only contemporary music which blasts out over this music loving corner of France as there is a music festival to suit all tastes. For example, the Vannes Jazz Festival has been a regular event in Brittany for over 30 years featuring such artists as, Herbie Hancock, Stephane Grappelli and the legendary Taj Mahal. Many traditional folk music festivals also take place in Brittany throughout the year.
Brittany is certainly a region which takes its music seriously enough to put on a massive variety of gigs and festivals. If you happen to be in this culturally unique corner of France in March or April this year, be sure to drop in on Les Hiverautes in Quimper and the Panoramas Festival in Morlaix – and experience a Breton version of Glastonbury!
Maybe you would be interested in staying at one of Vintage Travel’s luxury villas in Brittany during these festivals – just click the link!
If you are lucky enough to be in Brittany this summer then you may be interested in being informed about the 10th Jardin des Arts event.
Running until 16 September 2012, this extraordinary art event features some inspirational structures and works of art that are based upon the theme ‘lien’, a slightly tongue-in-cheek abbreviation for ‘alien’! UFO-sculptures of all shapes, sizes and colours have landed in the heart of the Air Milin Park at Chateaubourg, in an alien-inspired event that is proving to be a real ‘eye opener’!
Some of the bizarre monuments on view at this unusual art fair include Edith Meusnier’s ‘Kyriellei’.
This bright, adventurous and certainly out of the ordinary monument cannot fail to stand passerby’s in their tracks and encourage them to muse over its enormity, wackiness and of course meaning.
Another equally as mind-boggling structure featuring in the 10th Jardin des Arts is Delphine Lecamp’s ‘Un Pied de Sept Lieues’. For anyone who can speak French, ‘pied’ is of course ‘foot’ and that is exactly what this unusual sculpture is – A giant steel foot, which has the added attraction of having brightly painted toenails!
Further boggling artistic marvels at this highly amusing art event in Brittany is Patrick Demazeau’s ‘Avec un Abre’. Again if you know any French, you’ll know that ‘Avec un Abre’, translates as ‘With a Tree’, and again a name that depicts what the sculpture actual is with refreshing simplicity!
Demazeau’s park bench could be like any other park bench, but with two differences – It’s bright yellow and has a tree rising up through it!
An arts festival definitely for the open-minded and just another reason why to visit Brittany this summer!
There’s no time quite as appropriate for planning your holidays as in January, for the simple reason that in January we all seem to need a bit of cheering up.
For those of you who cannot wait a whole seven or eight months to go and holiday and like to take a break abroad in May, then you may appreciate being informed about the Festival of Brittany 2012, which is taking place from the 17 -28 May, 2012.
Since 2009, the Festival of Brittany has been dedicated to proving to the rest of France, Europe and even beyond, how modern and cosmopolitan the region is. And boy does it do it in style! From exhibitions, concerts, markets and activities, this energetic festival has something for everyone.
Brittany is one of the most traditional regions in France and excels in offering its visitors a traditional trip back in time, especially in history, gastronomy and religious domains.
Although alongside the striped skirts, bicycles, berets, cidre and moules, Brittany seems to have an unparalleled talent at making something new out of something old.
This is the essence behind the Festival of Brittany, which includes a ‘fest-noz’ – a night-time feast – which beholds the slogan ‘biniou’ – be new!
Of course in holding such a ‘vague’ and ‘elusive’ slogan, the Festival of Brittany’s ‘fest-noz’ really is open to pretty much anything. In previous years the ‘fest-noz’ night of this festival, with street theatre, singing, eating, dancing, drinking and merriment, going on until the early hours of the morning, really is the focal part of the Brittany Festival.
To ensure this year’s event excels previous years in the ‘biniou’ stakes, the festival organisers are calling upon any wacky associations and quirky cultural groups to participate in the Brittany Festival 2012 and make this one more ‘biniou’ than ever.
Visit: fetedelabretagne.com for further details on what promises to be a memorable event.