If shellfish is what you’re after, Brittany is the region for you. Brittany has a passionate sense of self-identity, which can be seen in the region’s distinct food culture. From the freshest oysters to salty butter, sticky cakes to fruity cider, the choice of Breton delicacies is endless.
Head to Cancale for the best oysters in Brittany, or visit St Malo for a mooch around the walls while savouring a salted caramel crêpe, wherever you go in Brittany, it’s always delicious. Take a read of our food guide to Brittany for delicious holiday inspiration!
Madame Vacances offers holiday cottages at Résidence Les Terrasses de Pentrez, where a week’s stay starts from £159. Located in Pentrez, our residence is on the doorstep of the Armorica Regional Natural Park, and right alongside the sandy beach.
Fruits de Mer
With a simply glorious stretch of coastline, shellfish is the thing to see and eat in Brittany. Aptly named, a platter of Fruits de Mer piled high is divine. Caught fresh and cooked simply, expect to see spider crabs, lobsters, mussels, scallops, langoustines, prawns, winkles, and of course, oysters. Served with crusty bread, local Brittany butter and homemade mayonnaise, you’re guaranteed to be in foodie heaven.
Brittany has one of the highest tidal ranges in Europe, making it ideal living conditions for shellfish. Brittany’s oyster beds are enormous, and whether you eat them freshly shucked at a market or on ice, with a cold glass of Muscadet, on the harbourside, they’re the true taste of Brittany.
Moules frites is also a very popular dish, cooked with white wine, shallots and a little cream, and you’ll frequently find ‘poor man’s lobster,’ or monkfish (La Lotte) on the menu.
Sweets, treats and all things naughty
When it comes to treats and all things naughty, Brittany has a real sweet tooth. Brittany is the original home of salted caramel. Now a food craze in England, it was devised in the 1970s, when a Breton patissier used salted butter to make caramel. Wherever you go in Brittany, you won’t be far from salted caramel, whether on a crêpe or as hard sweets.
That leads us nicely on to…the Breton galette! A pancake masterpiece, made with buckwheat flour, these are savoury crêpes filled with cheese, ham, mushrooms and tomatoes, with a fried egg on top. Cheesey, buttery, crispy and truly delicious.
When in Brittany you must also sample a Breton butter cake – a Kouign Amann. Brittany has been perfecting these since 1860, so the cake’s layers of butter, enriched dough and sugar are perfectly balanced to create a caramelised on the outside, gooey in the centre, and sticky all over. They are very sweet, so you’ll only manage a slice, or a mini one, but goodness they’re delicious.
Brittany is also rightly proud of its homemade butter. The passion for Breton butter began in the 1500s, when Breton was the only part of France exempt from the salt tax (gabelle). Thus, salt was liberally added to Breton cuisine, and that’s remained true today in the region’s butter. Served ice cold and flecked with sea salt crystals, it’s best enjoyed spread on a hunk of bread with an aperitif outside.
Served in bolées, or teacup-shaped mugs, Brittany’s cider is the lesser-known sister of Normandy cider. There are lots of varieties of cider, as well as brands and flavours:
Cidre brut – a dry cider with acidic notes and higher alcohol content
Cidre doux – a sweet, cloudy cider with low alcohol and soft foam on top
Cidre bouché – a golden cider with lively sparkle, and full-bodied flavour
Cidre demi-sec – fruity and sweet, light and refreshing
Pommeau – an excellent aperitif with high alcohol content, made with two parts apple juice, one part calvados
Jus de pomme pétillant – sparkling apple juice without sugar or colours
Brittany beer is also seeing a big comeback, with amber, russet, blonde and flavoured beers on offer in the Brittany restaurants.
Fresh and local produce is highly valued in Brittany, and walking through a local farmers market will show you the colour and variety on throughout the year. Wander through in spring and you’ll be greeted by rhubarb, artichokes and asparagus, while summer brings radishes, salad, herbs and berries. Autumn changes to apples, mushrooms and rabbit, while winter provides potatoes, root vegetables and cabbages. For a particularly spectacular market, head to Rennes, the Breton capital, where you’ll discover the second largest market in France.
If you’re tempted to dive into one of France’s most distinct cuisines, visit our holiday cottages at Résidence Les Terrasses de Pentrez, where a week’s stay starts from £159.