Brittany is one of the prettiest and most diverse areas of France – you probably know it as a popular holiday-home destination, but did you know that in a poll of French homebuyers it was the area they most want to move to?
The reasons are obvious – let’s start with the beaches and coastline, which stretches to an astonishing 2,700 km’s (that’s 1,677 miles in old money). Take your pick from a hike along the rugged cliffs, to lazing on the golden sands or eating freshly caught seafood in one of the traditional fishing villages. No matter where you buy in Brittany, you will have access to these delights. Inland you will find a beautiful rolling landscape with picturesque towns and villages, famous for the variety, colour and quality of the markets. The renowned Lac de Guérledan is right in the heart of Brittany, covering 300 hectares the paths around it wander through glorious forests and are a haven for walkers, cyclists and those seeking peace and tranquility.
Property prices have risen in recent years, but still represent excellent value for money, no wonder this is such a popular place for both domestic and international buyers. Indeed, French buyers have been to the fore in recent years, choosing Brittany as the region they want to buy a holiday home. There have been many reports in the French news putting this down to “climate migrants” who prefer the milder climate to the more severe extremes to be found in Spain, Portugal and parts of the Mediterranean.
Brittany has several airports, with flights within France and to international destinations. Rennes Bretagne airport has direct flights to 18 European countries, and 17 countries outside Europe (including Canada/USA, the UAE, Singapore, South Africa and Brazil). It also flies to eight cities within France. The airports in Brest and Lorient are all smaller and mainly service domestic flights.
The TGV runs daily between Paris and Rennes (around 2hrs 12 mins), and regional trains connect the smaller towns in the region.
Many UK visitors like to take the ferry, with regular services running from Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Poole to the ports of Saint-Malo and Roscoff in Brittany, or via Normandy ports such as Cherbourg.
Several major highways run through Brittany, giving easy access to Paris, Belgium, Holland and the Channel Tunnel car terminal. The A84 leads up to Caen, whilst the A81 heads due east towards Paris. Meanwhile the RN137 heads south to Nantes.
Record demand and low stock levels pretty much sum up the Brittany property market over the last couple of years. Prices have risen accordingly, with a typical apartment in Rennes seeing an increase of almost 11% in 2022. A family home in Brest will have seen a rise around 12% in the same period.
Low interest rates have been a bedrock of this demand and it helps that a French Government report, comparing employment data from 100 towns, declared Rennes as having the strongest labour market in France. With interest rates rising we are likely to see a slight dampening of demand, which should mean more stock being available and more choice for buyers.
One other driver of the Brittany property market is the trend towards home working. Télétravail (working from home) has exploded, and people are looking for country houses that offer more space/light with a view, and high speed broadband. There has been a population explosion in cities like Rennes, and families are tempted by the lower prices in the countryside. The third factor is the temperate climate to be found in Brittany, with clients looking to escape the extreme temperatures, fires, and floods to be found in Spain, Italy, and some Mediterranean destinations.
Brittany is home to some fine manoir, chateaux and country estates. They may be fewer in number than further south in the Loire number, but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. The good news is that, because they are inland away from the more costly coastline, they tend to be well priced and offer excellent value for money.Free PDF to read and download
Pretty much everything really. Let’s start with the coastline. Travelling anti-clockwise the towns of Saint-Malo, Saint Brieuc, Brest, Lorient and Vannes are all on the coast, each with a personality of its own and a variety of excellent shops, restaurants and leisure pursuits. In between you will find sandy beaches, ancient fishing ports and spectacular cliff-side walking. For those looking for a picturesque fishing village, we defy you not to fall in love with medieval Saint-Goustan, the lighthouse protected Doelan, or the chocolate-box pretty Sauzon, with its pastel houses and brightly painted shutters. Larmor-Plage is known as the “Brittany Riviera” but there are plenty of other beautiful beaches all along the coast. Trestraou beach near Perros-Guirec is a hidden gem and the Bay of Morlaix also has plenty to choose from. Moving west both Plouarzel and Plogoff are pretty stops along the dramatic Finistere coastline.
Inland you will absolutely fall in love with the lakes, forests and beautiful landscape. For a breathtaking view try walking to Monts d’Arrée in the Armorica Regional National Park (if you have been to Ireland you’ll feel at home), or try walking the hills and prairies of the Pays de Questembert. The truth is that every road and track in Brittany is a delight, with hidden secrets to uncover. If you are looking for a haven away from the stress of modern day life.
If you find romance in the culture or heritage of a region, then Brittany is your ideal destination. Stop off at any tourist office to learn about the local tales and legends. Morbihan is home to the world’s largest concentration of megalithic sites. The standing stones at Carnac stretch for an astonishing four km’s, and the site at Locmariaquer is home to the Er Grah menhir, which once stood 20 metres high and weighed 300 tonnes.
Finally, it would be remiss if we didn’t mention the seafood. A dozen oysters, or maybe some fresh crab, washed down with a crisp white wine? All restaurants in Brittany should be able to provide these, but for the real romance why not sample them on the waters edge, direct from the supplier. In southern Morbihan you should visit La Perle de Quéhan, where you can sit beneath the pine trees and sample the seafood whilst overlooking the bay. If you are in Finistere then Maison Legris is an award winning oyster bar in Plouguerneau, well worth a visit. Finally, if you visit Mont-Saint-Michel bay (which you almost certainly will) then head to the market at La Houle port, you won’t be disappointed.
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Brittany is home to a rich architectural heritage. One style that you will come across throughout the region is the half-timbered house. These properties typically feature exposed wooden beams and have a distinctive herringbone pattern, they look particularly attractive with a thatched roof. Many of the half-timbered properties line the cobbled streets in the “old towns” and historic centres.
You will also find that many Brittany farmhouses and country properties use local materials such as granite and slate. These are sturdy buildings, built to last, with the walls being made from large granite blocks, with slate used for the roofing.
On the coast you are more likely to find brightly coloured houses and cottages, with painted shutters and steeply pitched roofs. Many ports and quays in Brittany are lined with these picturesque properties, and the chocolate-box pretty houses are perfect for those tourists who like to record their visits on Instagram. The houses often have a nautical feel, with porthole windows and decorative anchors.
The contrast when you come across modern architecture, or contemporary houses in Brittany, is striking. These are built out of steel, concrete and glass and can provide an excellent contrast to the older, more traditional Breton properties.
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