Brittany is a region made for explorers. Its fretted coast and rich Breton culture is fiercely independent and feistily unique to the rest of France. Nestled in the southern part of the region, the picturesque port of Audierne bursts with character and provides a real gem for those whose idea of exploring France is a million miles away from Paris.
To make the most of Audierne, come hungry. The town’s proximity to the water hasn’t just given it a marina, it also provides the local eateries beautiful fresh seafood. The blue lobster is a particular delight, and is best enjoyed in one of the restaurants overlooking the ocean, such as L’Etrave. The blue lobster is rarer than its red cousin and is prized around the world for its rich flavour. Best paired with a piquant local Muscadet to complement the lobster.
Another delicacy to try in Audierne are the oysters. As long ago as the Roman occupation of Brittany (2,000 years ago), the region has had a reputation for high-quality oysters, and a burgeoning oyster farming industry. And that quality hasn’t dropped since. The oysters are taken direct from the bay and are served either plain, freshly shucked, or drizzled with lemon juice.
Swells & Surfing
It’s not only great food that comes out of the waters around Audierne. Brittany’s uniquely shaped coastline means that Audierne harbour has some fantastic waves for both beginners and experts looking to sample the region’s water sports. Whereas more experienced surfers will be confident to take on the swells of Audierne, those newer to the board might want to take advantage of the ESB. The ESB is Audierne’s surf school, which picks beaches specifically for their lighter waves.
For a more traditional experience in Audierne, every Saturday morning sees the weekly farmers market where both the locals and tourists are able to buy the best of local fare. Farmers markets are ubiquitous across Brittany, with most towns having their own version. In Audierne the traditional market is an ideal opportunity to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the pleasures of exploring for local produce, fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood.
If you can face the early start, and want to make the most of your self-catered experience, the early morning fish market gives you the opportunity to buy your lunch straight off the boats. Something like a Breton fish soup is a simple and rustic dish elevated to food heaven from the freshness of your ingredients.
Even amongst the stunning and rugged landscape of Brittany, Pointe du Raz is well worth a visit. Roughly 16km from Audierne, it is France’s own version of Lands End, a craggy peak that juts out from Brittany. The rocky cape offers some breathtaking clifftop walks if you have a head for heights and provides a fantastic example of the stark beauty which makes Brittany so attractive.
For a more traditional landscape, the Parc naturel regional d’Armorique offers a diverse natural park where everything from craggy hills to babbling waterfalls can be explored. The protected region is of particular interest to naturalists with a diverse range of animals from birds of prey to otters, beavers and even carnivorous plants. The region is also deeply tied into Arthurian legends, and there’s a definite magical atmosphere as this untouched corner of Brittany is explored.
Audierne offers visitors a fantastic launch pad to explore the local area, as well as a quintessential Breton experience based on rich food, rich culture and rich hospitality.