Why Brittany is seafood heaven for tourists – words Amy Turnbull

For Brits with a taste for quality fresh seafood, France’s northern coast has been a staple for some time. But it’s only in recent years that Brittany has found itself on the radar of travellers from much further afield – the US in particular.

Of course, American tourists don’t have quite the same easy access to holidays to Brittany that UK tourists enjoy thanks to Brittany Ferries.

But with the promise of being a seafood heaven and a generally pleasant corner of the continent, it’s a long-haul trip a growing number are happy to make.

As far as specific highlights of the region go, there are a few names that those in the know would most likely list as un-missable for seafood and they are as follows.

 

 

Saint Malo

First up, avoiding the ‘town of contrasts’ cliché when describing St Malo can be tricky. With its imposing 15th-century castle and historic town walls, it attracts a rather mixed clientele and caters to all tastes. The usual souvenir stores and budget takeout joints nestle in with upscale boutiques and Michelin Star restaurants. Speaking of which, Le Chalut is one of the town’s culinary highlights, serving mains from around £25 which isn’t bad considering its accolades. The lobster in particular is just about as good as it gets, though it’s hard to come across a bad ‘hommard’ anywhere in St Malo. Whether burning cash like there’s no tomorrow or on a strict budget, you’ll find plenty to suit. La Maison des Armateurs in the centre of town offers great accommodation paired with its own quaint restaurant.

Cancale

Anyone with a taste for oysters will be in their element in Cancale. Though technically a town, Cancale is basically just a row of seafood eateries that extend along the seafront. Punctuated here and there with market stalls selling the freshest catch, wherever you choose to eat, it’s both the oysters and the views out over the water you’ll walk away remembering. Pinpointing the best of the bunch is difficult, though Le Surcouf never fails to score highly with customers and critics alike with heavenly seafood. Take the time to take in as many as possible along the waterfront.

Dinan

Dinan is widely regarded as the best preserved and pretty of all town in Brittany. While it doesn’t have the same seafaring heritage as some of its nearby neighbours, the day’s catch is brought in every day and is every bit as good as by the water. It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours, lost in the ancient streets or checking out the local produce. L’Atelier Gourmand stands out as one of the best places to head for something special, in an idyllic setting right by the river. Again, Dinan does have a tendency to get a little packed during the highest season, but has more than enough eateries at all price levels to suit any discerning seafood fan.

Perros-Guirec (Sentier Des Douaniers Trail)

Driving is a real pleasure in Brittany, though few roads give you the opportunity to take in the best of the coast. As such, heading the way of Perros-Guirec and hiking the Sentier Des Douaniers Trail comes highly recommended. The pink granite coastline eventually gives way to traditional French seaside resorts, which unsurprisingly are packed to bursting point with superb seafood joints. The Pêcherie Perrosienne seafood market makes the kind of spectacle that’s not to be missed.

Concarneau and Pont-Aven

As you head further west and away from the northern coast, the oysters Britany is famous for are slowly but surely replaced by the humble sardine. The only problem being that as the region’s sardines are considered some of the best in Europe, most are shipped away or processed. Hence, finding freshly grilled sardines in the local restaurants can be tricky, but not impossible. Pont-Aven is a haven for seafood lovers who also have a passion for art, while is a little more touristy but also worth checking out. Even without a sardine in sight, the seafood on offer never disappoints.

Riec-Sur-Belon

Last but not least, Belon is famed the world over as the most famous French location to sample high-quality oysters. Despite being just about the best you’ll ever taste, they also cost exponentially less than you’d pay in any of the places they’re shipped to daily. Overlooking the oysterbeds, you’ll find a restaurant called Chez Jacky which is well worth stopping by. There’s an unashamedly expensive seafood platter for two on the menu, which includes whelks, clams, shrimp, langoustines and a lobster tail – not forgetting more oysters than you’ll ever manage in a single sitting.

Why Brittany is seafood heaven for tourists – words Amy Turnbull

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