La Bretagne

La Bretagne, or Brittany in English, is one of the 18 administrative regions of France. It is the farthest west of the regions of Metropolitan France. It was created in 1941 on 80% of the territory of traditional Brittany, and 20% is now called the department of Loire-Atlantique in the Pays de la Loire region.  Rennes, its capital city, in the eastern part of the region has been the bridge of communication between Brittany and Paris. The region is surrounded on three sides by a long (1110km) and varied coastline. There can be found rugged cliffs dotted with lighthouses, wide estuaries, and islets to protected birds’ life.


This region is considered as France’s number one agricultural (for milk) and fishing region—artichokes and cauliflowers are the main products of this region. Brittany also has strong maritime traditions. It is known for its wonderful sailing, windsurfing and some of the best scuba diving. This region is described as two lands. The first one is ‘Armor’ which means ‘land of the sea’. The second one is ‘Argoat’ which means ‘land of the woods’.

The region of Brittany is made up of 80% of the former Duchy and Province of Brittany. The remaining 20% of the province is the Loire-Atlantique department which now lies inside the Pays de la Loire region, whose capital, Nantes, was the historical capital of the Duchy of Brittany.

Brittany occupies the northwest peninsula of continental Europe in northwest France. It is bordered by the English Channel to the north, the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and the Bay of Biscay to the south. Its land area is 34,023 km² (13,136 sq mi). The historical province of Brittany is divided into five departments: Finistère in the west, Côtes-d’Armor in the north, Ille-et-Vilaine in the north east, Loire-Atlantique in the south east and Morbihan in the south on the Bay of Biscay.

The name of Brittany derives from settlers from Great Britain, who fled that island in the wake of the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England between the fifth and seventh centuries. Unlike the rest of France and Brittany, Lower Brittany (roughly, west of a boundary from Saint Brieuc to Vannes) has maintained a distinctly Celtic language, Breton, which is related to Cornish and Welsh. It was the dominant language in Lower, or western, Brittany until the mid-20th century. It has been granted regional language status and revival efforts are underway. In Upper, or eastern, Brittany, the traditional language is Gallo, an Oïl language, which has also received regional recognition and is in the process of being revived.

The flag of Brittany: When Bretons refer to the Gwenn ha du (‘black and white’ in Breton), they mean the stripy Breton flag. You’ll see it flying all over the place. Although so engrained in the regional consciousness now, the pattern was only invented between the wars. The five black stripes represent the dioceses of eastern Brittany, the four black ones those of western Brittany.

A Brittany food speciality: Crêpes or Galettes?

Amongst many typical food specialities of the Brittany region, we can mention Andouille de Guémené .This speciality of Guemene (a town located in the historical Brittany region that once encompassed the Loire Atlantique department) is different from the other recipes. The Breton pork sausage is indeed made of the typical “chaudins”, the large intestines of the pig which are rolled up the ones on the others – 20 to 25 guts are required for one andouille! That is why the Andouille de Guémené is recognizable when sliced, thanks to its concentric circles. The Breton andouille is finally wrapped in beef casing, smoked and then dried (up to nine months sometimes) before being cooked slowly in stock flavoured with hay. Such recipe has made the Andouille de Guemene one of the tastiest dishes of Brittany!

Maybe better known is the Crepe which is also called the Galette. In many restaurants throughout Brittany these buckwheat and wheat delights are unduly called “Crêpes”. Actually Galettes originate from Haute-Bretagne (Upper Brittany), or Gallo country, and Crêpes from Basse-Bretagne (Lower Brittany). The first are thick, moist and substantial while the sweet version of the French speciality is thin, sometimes crispy.

This gourmet French speciality boasts many different recipes and ways to enjoy it. Depending if you are a sweet or savoury person, you may prefer the Crêpes de Froment (wheatflour pancake) or the Galettes de Sarrasin (buckwheat pancakes). In France, crêpes are traditionally served on Candlemas (La Chandeleur), February 2. This day was originally Virgin Mary’s Blessing Day, but became known in France as “Le Jour des Crêpes” (literally translated “The Day of the Crêpes”, but sometimes given colloquially as “Avec Crêpe Day” or “National Crêpe Day”), referring to the tradition of offering crêpes. The belief was that if you could catch the crêpe with a frying pan after tossing it in the air with your right hand and holding a gold coin in your left hand, you would become rich that year.  

Popular dish

Brittany is known by its maritime products. With  strong fishing ports and working harbors along the coastline of Brittany, there are a lot of fresh seafood. Mussels and oysters are the most popular dishes, along with the fish stew, also known as cotriade.

Let’s take a look at how cotriade is made!


⅓  cup olive oil

3  onions, peeled and sliced thin

9  cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin

1  large leek, root end and damaged and wilted leaves removed and discarded, and the remainder (both green and white parts) thoroughly cleaned and sliced thin

8  cups water

2  pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 ½  pounds codfish (or other thick fillets of fish), cleaned and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

2  teaspoons salt

1  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2  teaspoons herbes de Provence


⅓  cup red-wine vinegar

½  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1  baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1  tablespoon corn or safflower oil

 Extra olive oil for serving at the table

How To Make?

  1. Place the 1/3 cup olive oil, onions, garlic and leek in a large pot and cook gently over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water and the potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and boil gently for 20 minutes. (The recipe can be prepared ahead to this point and kept out for a few hours or refrigerated overnight.)
  3. Just before serving, add the fish and bring the mixture back to a boil. Immediately remove the pot from the heat and season with the salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and herbes de Provence.
  4. Make the pepper-vinegar dip: in a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and the 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  5. Make the bread garnish: arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the oil. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until brown and crisp.
  6. Serve the soup in large bowls or soup plates with a small warmed plate on the side. Invite each guest to transfer pieces of potato and fish from the soup to the side plate and sprinkle them with the pepper-vinegar and, if desired, a few drops of oil. Add the croutons to the soup and serve immediately.

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