Бретань, Франция

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Iyna Bort Caruso

Brittany, in northwest France, is a region of pretty coastal hamlets, walled cities and urban centers of manageable scales. Small towns with historic character have a particular designation here--petite cite de caractére. Brittany is one of the country’s most rural areas. Cathedrals, farms, windmills and tidal mills silhouette the skyline. It is, however, still accessible. The region has three international airports, major rail lines and ferry service to Spain and Britain.

Brittany sits on France’s largest peninsula jutting into the Atlantic. Its perimeter is fringed with cliffs and sandy beaches. The north coast fronts the English Channel, the south coast the Bay of Biscay while the Gulf of Morbihan, a beautiful inland sea, harbors dozens of islands. For locals, known as Bretons, hiking along the coastline, bicycling around salt marshes and mud flats and year-round golfing on uncrowded courses are part of the lifestyle.

Brittany has strong ties to the British Isles--Brittany means “Little Britain.”

In the Middle Ages, the region experienced an influx of Welsh and English who brought their Celtic culture and traditional Breton language that’s still heard to this day.

The capital of the region is Rennes, the economic and cultural hub. Rennes is a modern inland city in an area that is otherwise largely agricultural. Most larger cities in Brittany are on the coast, along with an impressive collection of seaside resorts.

The medieval port town of Saint Malo is one of the region’s most visited and most popular. Historic stone mansions built by wealthy merchants are called Malouinières. Saint Malo is part of the Côte d’Emeraude, or Emerald Coast, that includes stylish locales like Dinard and Cap Fréhel.

Second home properties in Brittany are especially popular among buyers from the U.K. for its proximity and accessibility, which includes direct ferry service. Buyers can find medieval to modern and even private islands in the Gulf of the Morbihan.