flag of brittany
Population 2,900,000 (2003)
Area 1,062 square miles
Agriculture and fishing Dairy, pork, oysters, cod
Animals of the region Birds, including gannets, guillemots and puffins, dairy cows, sheep
Culture Brittany developed a unique culture due to its long isolation from the rest of France. Until the first part of the 19th century, the vast majority of its inhabitants spoke Breton and their everyday dress consisted of distinct local costumes. This Breton culture can be seen today during church festivals and other events when the old costumes with their “coiffes” (hats of lace) – a different hat in each area – can be seen.
Capital and major cities Rennes, Brest, Pontivy, Quimper
Folklore, legends, crafts Brittany is one of the Celtic regions with a direct connection to Camelot (Arthurian Week is held in Broceliande each July)
Foods and beverages
Crepes, oysters, pain mirau (a bread roll, featured annually at the Bread Festival at St. Brandan), cider, beer, mead
Spirits of the Region
Industry and products, past and present Quimperware, granite, light chemical and mechanical production
Inventions, discoveries, and notable people Henriot Quimper, creator of Quimperware; Déodat de Dolomieu, geologist, discovered the chemical difference between normal limestone and dolomite. In his honor, the rock was called dolomite, and the part of the Alps where he discovered the difference, and which consist of dolomite, are today called Dolomites; author Theodore Botrel; the artist Gauguin lived in Pont-Aven; artists Mathurin Meheut; fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin.
Musical instruments Biniou (bagpipe), accordions, violins, flutes, guitars, percussion, bombard (similar to an oboe)
Symbols of the region The symbol of Brittany is the ermine. Flag: 5 black bands (representing the former bishoprics of Upper Brittany), 4 white bands (representing the former bishoprics of Lower Brittany), and a field of stylized ermines
Tourist sites Numerous lighthouses and standing stones, the Interceltic Festival at Lorient, held annually in August.
Unique qualities Brittany is distinct from other French regions because of its Celtic heritage. About one-quarter of its population are able to speak Breton, a Celtic language similar to Cornish and Welsh.