Just like in other parts of France, Brittany is well-known for its delicious food. You can explore the local markets held in different villages every week, where locals sell fresh produce, seafood, and special regional treats. The traditional Breton cuisine is simple and uses ingredients you can easily find at these lively markets. It’s a great way to savor the authentic tastes of Brittany!
While enjoying the scenic beauty on our two-week road trip in Brittany, we couldn’t resist trying some of the region’s signature dishes. We sampled mussels, Breton cider, oysters, galettes, Breton cakes, and canned seafood to truly experience the rich culinary delights of the area.
Given Brittany’s extensive coastline, it’s no wonder that seafood is a integral part of Breton cuisine. Mussels take a prominent place on the menus of restaurants across the region. I’ve had the pleasure of savoring larger-sized mussels with flesh ranging in color from yellow to deep orange. The smaller-sized mussels, with their rich orange hue and flavor, are a delight as well. Traditionally, mussels are steamed and served in a broth crafted from herbs and Breton Muscadet wine. However, my personal favorite is the crème fraîche version.
Ciders are crafted in orchards scattered across Brittany, from the Rance Valley and Vannes region to the Cornouaille Cider Route. One notable Breton cider brand is Cidre de Cornouaille AOP, similar to wines, achieving an AOP designation requires meeting specific criteria. You can visit local producers to sample their exceptional products. Located at the entrance of the Rhuys Peninsula, Cidrerie Nicol offers another superb cider with a delicate flavor, crafted from the Guillevic apple variety.
In restaurants, it’s common to pair galettes or desserts with a glass of cider. Moreover, cider plays a vital role in Breton cuisine, often used as an ingredient in dishes such as mussel recipes. During a meal in a Concarneau restaurant, I tried a pork dish cooked in cider, and it turned out to be surprisingly delicious.
Notably, Brittany’s coastline contributes significantly to France’s oyster production, with Cancale near St-Malo being a well-known hub. Locals informed us that the oysters cultivated north of Sarzeau are of exceptional quality. Les Fruits De Mer, situated near Pointe de l’Ours on the Rhuys Peninsula, is an oyster farm offering fresh oysters and a seaside restaurant with picturesque views.
In restaurants, oysters are served as starters or part of a sumptuous seafood platter. Pair them with bread, salted butter, a hint of lemon, and a glass of Rose.
One culinary delight you can’t miss in Brittany is the galette, and our trip wouldn’t be complete without savoring this famous dish. Unlike crêpes, galettes are crafted from buckwheat flour and filled with delectable ingredients such as ham, cheese, and a fried egg. Served folded into rectangles, these tasty treats make for a perfect lunch.
My most memorable galette experience was at Crêperie Glacier des Embruns in Port de Sauzon, a charming fishing village on Belle Île en Mer.. I ordered a galette with anchovy, cheese, and an egg. The result was a hot and crispy galette with a delightful blend of savory fillings.
Breton Cake (Kouign-amann)
Ending a meal with a Breton sweet is a truly satisfaction. In Brittany, where the rich essence of butter defines its culinary treasures, pastries become a celebration of the tastes of Brittany. Classics like Far Breton and biscuits grace the pastry scene, but the true gem is the Breton cake, making it the ideal treat for dessert or a cozy afternoon tea..
Crafted from a simple blend of bread dough, sugar, and salted butter, these round, multi-layered pastries undergo a magical transformation in the oven. Then, as the sugar caramelizes and the butter gracefully melts, the result is a heavenly creation with a puffy pastry-like texture, adorned with a light caramelized glaze on the outside. It encapsulates the unique tastes of Brittany, making it the perfect ending to a culinary journey in this delightful region.
In local shops and supermarkets, you’ll discover an array of canned fish, meticulously preserved with various herbs and olive oils. Among the top fish canneries, La Belle Iloise in the Quiberon peninsula stands out for producing the finest canned sardines in the region. Operating since 1932, they maintain traditional canning techniques, filleting and tin-packing sardines by hand. Harvested mainly from the Bay of Biscay (from Douarnenez to La Turballe), the sardines are processed on the same day they are caught, ensuring the highest quality and flavour.
La Belle Iloise cannery doesn’t stop at sardines; they also offer tuna, mackerel, lobster soup, and more. French locals enjoy these delicacies as bread spreads, aperitifs, starters, or light meals. The cannery’s entrance shop provides a wide selection of fish products, and visitors can partake in complimentary guided tours, complete with tastings of their latest creations.
Tips for the tastes of Brittany
Explore the rich culinary delights of Brittany by visiting the vibrant weekly markets scattered throughout towns and villages in the region. These markets stand as the epitome of experiencing the diverse and delicious tastes of Brittany. To plan your visit, check the local website for market schedules, ensuring you don’t miss the chance to purchase freshly caught oysters and mussels.
For added convenience, local supermarkets offer pre-made galettes and a selection of Breton sweets. However, to delve deeper into the realm of Breton culinary delights, make your way to one of the specialized Breton shops.
Should your journey begin from Paris, Brittany beckons as an ideal weekend getaway and short vacation destination. Consider joining the 2-day Normandy & Brittany tour from Paris for an immersive experience, relishing a distinct coastal lifestyle and savoring the exquisite tastes of Brittany.