The world’s your oyster
Situated between the Aven and Belon rivers, Riec-sur-Belon is known throughout the world for the quality of the oysters that are produced in its waters. This attractive village has been an inspiration for chefs and artists and its coastal path continues to inspire visitors.
Although oysters have been grown in the River Belon for hundreds of years, it was only in the 19th century that oyster farming commenced officially. These days, the flat oyster is regarded as Brittany’s finest, primarily due to its distinctive nutty taste, which is the result of the salt water and fresh water that pass through the river; the shellfish is celebrated each July with the Fête de l’Huitre. Contrary to popular belief, oysters are perfectly edible during months without an R in them and where better to sample some than in a riverside restaurant?
Oysters were an inspiration to Riec’s most famous inhabitant, chef Mélanie Rouat. After opening a grocer’s in the early 1900s Mélanie began to farm oysters, which she sold in her shop. One day some French stars touring in the area came knocking at her door looking for somewhere to eat. After tasting the food she rustled up for them they persuaded her to open a restaurant and eventually Chez Mélanie became ‘the talk of Paris’, attracting the great and the good from across France.
One of the nicest ways to spend a few hours is to take the coastal path from the port of Belon to the port of Rosbras; if you’re around at low tide, you’ll be able to see the oyster beds. At the tip of the headland are the ruins of the 17th-century Fort de Belon and a short walk from here is the viewpoint of Penquernéo.
Did you know?
The Belon oyster is the same species as the Colchester Native oyster, which has been farmed in Essex since Roman times.
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