Deep rural roots
As a strongly rural region, Brittany has preserved a fair amount of its country heritage, notably its characteristic farms built around a square courtyard. There are also tidal mills and windmills, some gorgeous rustic industrial buildings, and then the Ă©comusĂ©es, intense, small-scale local museums recalling specific traditions, from textile working to algae harvesting, via specialist fishing.
Down on the farm
You can visit certain farms that have been exceptionally preserved, such as La Ferme dâ€™Antan at St-Esprit in still farming-dominated CĂ´tes dâ€™Armor, or that of the Domaine de Menez Meur in the Parc dâ€™Armorique. Then there are cider producers who open their doors to visitors, or farms offering carriage rides or tea. A few traditional rural hamlets have been immaculately restored as idealised showcases of the rural past, such as Poul-FĂ©tan and Melrand on the Blavet.
Wider rural life
Other places such as tidal mills, for example on the island of BrĂ©hat, or windmills, still particularly visible around the Bay of Mont St Michel, or certain rural industrial sites, recall wider traditions that have now vanished. MĂ©nĂ©ham in FinistĂ¨re was a coastal hamlet built first for customs men. In the centre of Brittany, Les Forges des Salles are a former iron-making works that now look a picture of peace, but the story is of hard labour.
Old-fashioned trades and enthusiastic locals
The specialist local museums, notably the Ă©comusĂ©es, focus clearly on rural traditions. A couple of the best are to be found out on the islands of Groix and Ouessant (Ushant), the latter set in the tiny but practical cottages that are typical of the place. Many concentrate on vieux mĂ©tiers, old trades. Seek out too the quirkier rustic stops run by passionate locals, like the Auberge Expo du Youdig in the Monts dâ€™ArrĂ©e that offers a window on a bygone age. Find out more about eco-museums in Brittany.