May 23, 2017

Brittany France – Sleeping in a Chateau

Thanks to “I’ll Never Be French” by Mark Greenside, Brittany has been on my mind these days.

Quite simply, Brittany is stunning.  This area southwest of Paris quite literally offers something for every person.  There are beaches, medieval villages, sailing, art, ceramic centers, prehistoric remains, castles, bicycling, botanical garden, Celtic history, cathedrals, walking, fishing . . . This landscape should not be missed and what could be better than spending your nights in lodging that offers a distinct ambiance?

Brittany France by cb_agulto, on Flickr

Brittany France by cb_agulto, on Flickr

There are quite a few great Chateaux turned B & B in Brittany each offering you the opportunity to lay your head for the night just like the nobility of yore!  The Chateau B & B’s are usually in rural areas near interesting tourist sites.  Your hosts offer guests insider tips on the museums and villages you simply must not miss as well as arrange horseback riding or golf or dinner reservations.  Or if you decide, you could just wander the land surrounding your Chateau.  It is really up to you.

Of the many choices you have for Chateau B & B’s, here are 3 to whet your appetite!

 

Chateau Le Guilguiffin Brittany France

Chateau Le Guilguiffin

Le Guilguiffin

Situated near Quimpers, the castle at Le Guilguiffin dates back to the 18th century and is classified as an historical monument. Tradition reigns here as the public rooms and bedrooms are tastefully decorated in a style befitting a building of this stature including antiques.   There are 4 rooms and 2 suites.  The property also offers the Gardeners House which is 2 stories, sleeps 5 and includes a fireplace, oozes charm and has a local flavor.  Guernevez cottage is another more rustic option that is a bit smaller – only 2 bedrooms. Another bonus, dogs are welcome!

Le Guilguiffin Room Brittany France

Courtesy of Le Guilguiffin

Room at Le Guilguiffin Brittany France

Courtesy of Le Guilguiffin

 

Chateau de Talhouet

This chateau dates back to the 16th century and is full of all the charm you’d expect while in Brittany.  As a special enticement, this B & B is near the glorious medieval village of Rochefort-en-Terre.  Set in its own private woods and gardens, Chateau de Talhouet has 8 rooms that are tastefully decorated in a comfortable but elegant fashion some include a fireplace but all have great views of the countryside, woods or garden.  There is a spectacular Grand salon and a Billiards salon where you may find yourself relaxing after a days sightseeing.

Coast line Brittany France

Coast line Brittany France by www.FranceHouseHunt.com, on Flickr

Chateau de La Ballue

This 17th century castle is known for its gardens but is also home to rolling hills, forests and the wild coastal landscape of Brittany.  Near the border of Normandy, Chateau de La Ballue’s gardens are done in the style of the 16th century and include a fernery, water trap, open air theater, maze and Temple of Diana among other treats.  This small B & B has 4 rooms and suite that are lovingly decorated in the style of the period and include antiques.  All rooms have canopy beds.  Famous guests of Chateau de La Ballue include Balzac, Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand.

Chateau de La Ballue Brittany France

Chateau de La Ballue

So there you have it, 3 outstanding Chateau B & B’s for your enjoyment.  Whether you come to Brittany for the scenery, history or its culinary delights this spirited region offers a great reward to all that explore its boundaries.

 

What do you think about staying in a Chateau B & B?

Off the Beaten Path – – French Basque Region

Since I am writing a travel blog, it is probably no surprise to anyone that I love to travel and since this blog site is dedicated to European travel it is no stretch to know that I love Europe.  This love has taken me to many wonderful and inspirational locations.  Some of them are the tried and true tourist areas and others are lesser known and less traveled areas, at least to Americans.

I find it interesting that Americans tend to spend their time in more well-known destinations – Paris; Triad in Italy: Rome, Florence and Venice; London; Munich – but don’t venture to some of the lesser known areas.  I am not sure why this is the case but I wonder if the distance has something to do with it.  Do some travelers from the US feel their European trip is a once in a lifetime and they must cram as much in as possible?  Or is it because they are trendy spots and ones they must visit or they are just not “with it”? 

No matter the reason, I truly enjoy getting “off the beaten path” and enjoying areas not on the usual tourist track.   It is one of these that I want to spend some time talking about in this post. 

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit one of these “off the beaten path” destinations in France.  I spent a week in the French Basque region specifically the area between Bayonne and St. Jean de Luz.  Unfortunately this was a very quick trip and I didn’t get do some extensive exploring but I came away wanting to spend more time in this beautiful less traveled area. 

Basque vista Southwest France

Basque Hills

The Southwest corner of France, from Bayonne to St. Jean de Luz, offers something for everyone.  Whether you want beautiful beaches or rolling green hills, sleepy villages or towns of international renown; you can find it all in this striking region. 

The coastal villages offer dramatic sandy beaches, fishing ports, beautiful architecture and storied histories.

Bayonne France

Bayonne

Bayonne is the capital of the region and is known for its narrow streets, cathedral and chocolate.  Bayonne is known as the first city in France to make chocolate and the chocolate industry dates back to the early 1600’s.  Wandering the streets will offer ample opportunities to sample the wonderful chocolate of Bayonne.

Biarritz Seaview France

Biarritz

Once a whaling village, Biarritz is now a resort to the rich and famous.  Biarritz was the summer home of Eugenie and Napoleon and you can still see the impact of this in the stunning Hotel du Palais.  Biarritz offers shopping, scenic views, museums and more.  You will enjoy wandering the charming old town.  After enjoying the sights which include a lighthouse and a Chocolate museum, you may want to spend some time in the casino before turning in for the night.

St Jean du Luz French Basque region

St Jean du Luz by marsupilami92, on Flickr

St. Jean de Luz is an enchanting town offering a sandy beach, picturesque harbor, outdoor cafes, architectural gems and a quaint town square.  St. Jean de Luz is another great strolling town with beautiful narrow streets. 

Basque Farm in Southwest France

Basque Farm

The French Basque have a well preserved culture and once you start moving inland you sense a more Basque feel to the environs.   Moving inland you will find rolling green hills, peace and quiet, tradition and villages called “most beautiful villages in France.”

Scenic Basque Country France

Scenic Basque Country

Driving inland you will meet charming villages like Ascain, Sare and Ortillopitz.  The storybook quality of this area make drives through the region an amazing journey.  The discoveries you will find include churches, distinctive Basque architecture, lush countryside, vineyards, farms, pilgrimage routes and spectacular vistas.  If you are a walker, you will be able to find many walking routes.

This section of France left a definite impression on me and I intend on returning.  What “off the beaten path” destinations have impacted you?

Gems of Normandy

Have you visited the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy?  If so, you’re not alone.  Normandy is a very popular French destination and a lot of this is due to the events that happened 60+ years ago.  You definitely should visit the D-Day beaches, the WWII museum in Caen and those small unique museums you’ll pass driving from beach to beach.  It is hard to imagine the emotions you’ll feel until you are standing there looking out and visualizing the ships and men climbing up the sand.  Until you are actually there it is hard to grasp the immenseness of this endeavor and to fully appreciate what those brave soldiers did for us all.  Yes, it is my opinion that everyone should visit Normandy for this reason but there is much more to this region that should not be overlooked.

Normandy is an area full of orchards, rolling green hills, wonderful seaside villages, history, architectural gifts, art, wonderful seafood and more!  So let’s spend a little time talking about the other gems of Normandy!

Giverny is about an hour outside Paris and home to one of the world’s most famous artists, Monet.  His home and gardens are impressive but you should take the time to visit even though they can become quite congested during the summer months. 

Monet's Garden Normandy France

Monet's Garden

Apple Farms are abundant in Normandy and the drive along the Cider Route is a great adventure.  This route travels through many small captivating Norman villages and enchanting landscapes.  While enjoying the villages and scenery, make sure to stop along the way to enjoy tastes of the local cider, Calvados (Apple Brandy) and Pommeau (a traditional aperitif).  You won’t be disappointed.  The orchards are in full bloom end of April through end of May and harvest is from September to December. 

The seaside resorts of Normandy are full of alluring qualities that will invite you in to take a closer look.  In fact, you can visit any type of town you like from fishing ports, sandy beaches to chic villages complete with casinos.   A short list of the small cozier villages would include France’s oldest seaside resort of Dieppe, Etretat where you can spend hours wandering and viewing the amazing cliffs and rock formations, Trouville a low key version of Deauville and great place to take in the local culture to Cabourg where you can enjoy beaches, avenues bordered by beautiful trees and relive the Belle Epoque.

Cabourg Normandy Fishing Village France

Cabourg

Normandy is also horse country and the place where future champions are raised.  If you love horses a visit to Haras du Pin will not disappoint!  During your visit you will be able to see the stables, training center, blacksmith’s forge, paddocks and saddler’s room.  If you time it right, you may even witness a stallion parade or a show featuring the horses.  Maybe you will want to attend a horse race in Deauville, Cabourg or Caen?

Normandy is home to many food options.  Besides apples, there are many other fruits but cheese and seafood are in the running for top draw.  If you love cheese, then you will be excited to visit Normandy – – home to Camembert, Pont l’Eveque and Livarot cheeses.  A visit to the President Cheese farm will not disappoint!  Keeping with the subject of food, all seafood lovers will be in heaven during any visit to Normandy!  Specialties include herring, scallops and mussels (moules).  In fact, my husband thought he had died and gone to moules heaven during our visit.  To say he ate moules every day would not be an exaggeration!

Honfleur Harbor Normandy France

Honfleur Harbor

Yes there are many things to do in Normandy.  Tell me about your favorite.

Picture of Monet’s Garden by Selena N. B. H.
Picture of Honfleur Harbor by Allan Lee