We’re off to Brittany - for its craggy shoreline, its rolling countryside, its forests, its history and of course its cuisine. As ever, we’ve scoured the landscape to devise a strikingly beautiful route. It will show you Brittany at its most glorious.
The allure that has made Brittany popular with British visitors is rooted in history. Prehistoric standing-stones abound, while mighty Gothic cathedral spires soar above its mediaeval cities. From Dark Ages to Middle Ages, extensive immigration from our shores forged cultural and ethnic ties with Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. Even the Breton language has much in common with Cornish and Welsh. Brittany is a land of art and architecture, of song and of magic.
Our route starts further south-east at Chartres, famed for its magnificent 13th century cathedral, visible from miles around. It owes its survival to US Col WB Griffith who in 1944 challenged orders from superiors to destroy the spires that they thought housed a German observation post. Griffith personally searched the cathedral, establishing that it was void of the enemy, only to be tragically killed in action elsewhere the self-same day.
Two nights at Rennes will let us strike out through Brittany’s varied landscape to explore its coastline. In 1491 Rennes, alone in all Brittany, withstood the army of King Charles VIII of France. Nonetheless, surrounded and with eventual defeat inevitable, the Duchess Anne of independent Brittany contracted a diplomatic marriage with Charles. Thus Brittany became part of France and has stayed so ever since.
Our tour ends in Normandy at Caen, last resting place of William the Conqueror. His 11th century Château de Caen is one of the largest mediaeval complexes in Europe. Fish and seafood from the nearby Channel port fleets, sweet crêpes and salt-marsh lamb from the surrounds of neighbouring World Heritage Site, Mont St Michel are among Caen’s gastronomic favourites. Will they all be on the menu for our everpopular final night’s Gala Dinner?
Alongside its beauty, the impact of war on the region cannot be avoided. Our journey will allow for some moments of reflection 100 years on from WW1, and as we pass by the 1944 D-Day landing beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.