The delights of the French way of life can be summed up in one word, Brittany. Brittany offers eight hundred miles of grand rocky coastline with scores of bays and little fishing villages. The enchanting countryside is dotted with giant granite boulders and wild meadows on the moors, thickets and forests in a gently rolling landscape.
It is the buildings that give a region its soul, and in Brittany, you can find it in the megaliths, calvaries, castles, manor houses, countless chapels and old villages. All of them bear witness to Brittany's eventful history and wealth of traditions. Brittany was, after all, home to the enchanted Forest, was where Merlin lived, and where corsairs sailed to the new world. The people from Quebec retrace their roots here, and Great Britain owes the "great" in its name to distinguish it from this unique region of France.
It is in western Brittany that Breton culture remains most evident. In Quimper, and in the Pays Bigouden, crèpes, cider, traditional costumes and Celtic music are still a genuine part of the Breton lifestyle. Vannes, Dinan and Rennes, the Breton capital, have well preserved medieval quarters where half-timbered buildings cover markets, shops, crèperies and restaurants.
The walled port of St-Malo on the Côte d'Emeraude recalls the region's maritime expertise, while the remarkably intact castles at Fougères and Vitré are still a reminder of the mighty border-fortresses that protected Brittany's eastern frontier before its final union with France in 1532.
Holidaymakers are enticed to Brittany by its magnificent array of seafood such as shellfish, oysters, scallops and many tasty varieties of fish. Brittany is also famous for its farm produce such as salt meadow lamb, poultry and pork meat products.
Other specialties of the region are wafer biscuits and butter cookies. However, Brittany's proudest addition to the great cuisines of the world has to be the crêpe and its savoury equivalent the galette – these can be found all over in any of the typical Breton "crêperies" along the roadside or in the centres of old towns where visitors are often welcomed with a traditional cup of cider.
A long, rugged coastline, vast bays of glorious beaches, and a secretive, almost mystical interior is the lasting impression of Brittany. This most westward region of France, where the Bretons speak their ancient language and carry on age-old traditions, always seems a little out of step with mainstream France, but the many attractions welcome visitors in their thousands year after year.
The Manoir is situated in the heart of the french countryside on the borders of Brittany and the Loire, half way between the cathedral city of Rennes and Nantes, and about 45 minutes from the gold coast of Morbihan. Rennes is a sophisticated and cultural university city about 30 minutes away offering medieaval architecture and cobblestone streets lined with many boutiques and restaurants. Rennes also offers many large churches and a cathedral, museums, art galleries, and stunning public gardens dedicated to the advancement of horticultural scientific knowledge.
There is a large Saturday market and other small markets on most days. Activities available include, go karting, ten pin bowling and golf (3 courses). La Roche bernard, is situated at the mouth of the River Vilaine, a coastal seaside town about 45 minutes away, nestled into a hillside with winding streets lined with restaurants and picturesque views over the water. The nearest sandy beach is about 45 minutes away and is served by the warm waters of the popular Gulf of Morbihan. La Rochefort-en-terre is about 40 minutes away between the Manoir and the coast, a quaint town with cobblestoned streets lined with antique shops and restaurants and is famous for a its chateau, originally owned by american artists and donated to the town on their death.
La Gacilly (15 minutes away) is a very pretty town, usually adorned with flowers, and situated on a river. It was made famous by the distinction of having Yves Rocher as the deputy mayor and being the home of the Yves Rocher cosmetics empire. Guided tours around the cosmetics factory are available in-season. In association with the Museum of European Natural History, Yves Rocher has also created a vegetarium or botanic Gardens, dedicated to the advancement of scientific knowledge, and these are open to the public. It also is a haven for local artists' galleries and boutiques. Loheac, 15 minutes away, is a pretty town with very good restaurants and is made famous by the Manor d'automobiles which has the largest collection of Ferraris and Lotus' in Europe.
Our nearest village, St Anne sur Vilaine, is about 2 km away. It has a bakery, grocery store and a seasonal creperie, and sits on the banks of the river. The nearest town in the opposite direction, also 2 km, has a number of bars and also offers a grand church and famous roman chappelle with a roman mural recently uncovered and restored. The local town Guipry/Messac (about 10 minutes away) offers a large supermarket, restaurants, and river frontage where boats can be hired. The nearest restaurant is about 200 yards away and there is a Michelin restaurant in another local town: Le Grand Fougeray. This is set in the grounds of the public gardens and overlooks a lake and medieavel tower in which there are often exhibitions.
Being 500 yards from the river Vilaine, with miles of unspoilt river banks, there is ample opportunity to picnic, fish or boat on the river (Kayaks are also available to hire). There are many lakes and supervised swimming areas. Horse riding is available within a mile of the Manoir. Golf may be played at a number of courses in the area, but the most highly recommended is La Bretasche at Missillac (about 45 minutes away) in a magical setting of a moated castle. Other activities and interests available in the area: Reptile/ Amphibian House (3 miles away), pottery (0.5 miles), birds of prey talk (4 miles), Roman megaliths, and many countryside walks and zoos to visit. Wine tasting may be arranged in house (provided by the local wine merchant) or at our local cave.