An enchanting patchwork
A patchwork of fields covers large swathes of Brittany, stretching down to its sandy coastal edges, which are so marked by sensational headlands and bays. Twisting rivers break up the agricultural landscapes inland. Their valleys are wooded; indeed much of central Brittany used to be heavily forested – just patches remain. Mellow lines of hills and heath cross the region east to west.
Outcrops and indentations
Around Brittany, you’ll be struck by how very contorted the coastline is; there’s virtually not a single straight line along the region’s edges. The mix of peninsulas sticking their heads out to sea and of deep gashes in the coast, both in the form of bays and wide estuaries (the latter sometimes known as abers or avens) helps make Brittany’s shores so exceptionally enticing.
Very small mountains
The highest peaks in Brittany manage to reach over 1,000 feet, but calling these mountains, like Finistère’s Montagnes Noires and Monts d’Arrée, seems a little exaggerated. These two ‘ranges’ both afford great views over western Brittany, but are contrasting in character, the first wooded, the second covered in low heath. Heath and woods cover other ridges running east-west across Brittany, often known as Landes, to be found in Côtes d’Armor and Morbihan as well.
Fields versus forests
Vast swathes of forest once covered much of central Brittany and only fragments remain today, more on the scale of woods (coat in Breton). As the region became more and more intensively farmed, it became covered with a dense network of fields. Up until the 1970s, Breton fields tended to be very small indeed, separated by high earth mounds known as talus, on which trees were grown. In a few unspoilt spots, like the Domaine de Menez Meur in the Parc d’Armorique, you can still see these well-shielded, traditional little fields.