Ille et Vilaine - Whether by air or by sea... it's...
the Gateway to Brittany (and a chunk of Normandy too)
And, of course, all points south...Bounded by the English Channel to the north...the Loire Atlantique to the south - Normandy's Manche & Mayenne to the east and the Cotes d'Armor and Morbihan to the west... Ille Vilaine is host to Brittany's ancient capital city of Rennes... Other towns and cities you will recognise by name... St Malo, northern citadel and chief ferry port is the place, bombed virtually flat as a key stronghold in WWII, through which much of the passenger traffic now arrives from the UK and the channel Islands. It faces Dinard, a resort made fashionable by the visiting English in the 19th Century. On the east of St Malo's peninsula is Cancale, famed for its oyster fisheries in the Bay of Mont St Michel. (Mont St Michel just falls into Normandy - I'm sure to the annoyance of the Brittany Tourism Office). Historically St Malo has been the jumping off point for many famous explorers and merchant venturers as well as the Arcadians; those Atlantic crossing settlers who became French Canadians and some of whom moved on at the behest of the British when they moved south to Louisiana to become Cajuns. Consequently there is a strong relationship between Cajun music and Breton folk music (sorry... I'm a fan). But the population of Ille et Vilaine is less distinctively made up of the Celtic Bretons than the regions to the west. Dol de Bretagne signals the beginning of France's 'West Country' as it specialises in Cider making. In addition St Servan, Redon, Vitre, Dol, Dinard, Cancale & Combourg are the towns of chief importance. A Google search on any of these town names will reveal more than I can ever assemble here.
St Malo: The citadel that launched a thousand ships and took ten thousand bombs which left it razed to the ground...These days it's rebuilt to its original ground plan and looking great - and it has some great food outlets...
Check out Kouign Amann (Queen Amarn) and Far Breton - Brilliant! Nice with a cup of coffee in the many pavement cafés within the walls. And quality seafood is available everywhere. Fougeres...just west of the Brittany border with Normandy is on our patch and worth a visit.(great stained glass in the church).
We spent a whole day walking around St Malo when we were forced into a 36 hour stopover after missing the ferry because of a freak blizzard on the autoroute in July... Just checking you're paying attention...It was just before Christmas... St Malo is great, even in December and luckily great for Christmas shopping. Chic specialist shops and great couture and interior decor outlets and antique shops. I think we went in every single one! The street market on Fridays is legendary. The shopkeepers complained to the local council that the market traders were blocking the doors to their shops and so now all shopkeepers have a right to set up a stall outside their own premises with their own special bargains. I picked up some 1910 magazines in very good condition. I will be framing the quirkier ads when I get time...(I know...whatever lights your lamp).
Rance Estuary... No, not San Francisco! This is the bridge over the Rance looking towards the sea...We travel across this bridge between St Malo and our house in Brittany at least twelve times each year.
The French treasure their architectural heritage (patrimoine) and nowhere is it more obvious than throughout Brittany The region is certainly doing its bit.
These regional pages are far from finished - and we are always eager to travel further into Brittany and explore every time we are able to spare the time. Here are some links which will help you to discover more......
Special note... 3 of these photo's are mine - the shots with people in them - the remainder are credited to www.all-free-photos.com