Brittany Is SO Bracing; You'll Need Sweaters Rather Than Sun Cream, but That Is What Dave Hepworth Loves about This Corner of France

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Hepworth

It was my birthday while we were in Brittany this year, and my wife bought me a kite. In the course of a few summer holidays we've spent at a friend's place in the south-west of the peninsula, we've found that Brittany is ideal for kiting because it makes the most of the two things the place has a lot of - wind and space.

The wind has plenty of opportunity to get up on its 2,000-mile journey from north America. The Finistere region in the south-western corner of Brittany - it means literally 'end of the earth' - is full of trees that have grown at gravitydefying angles to prove it. Brittany is a huge region of a vast country. When we drive there from the Channel ports we hit Brittany a good four hours before arriving at our destination near Quimper in the south, and visitors are so widely distributed that you can get claustrophobic the minute you spy a distant speck at the end of your previously deserted beach.

The kids accompanied us when they were teenagers, and while they pointed out there was nothing much to do, which is pretty much what we liked about it, they haven't stopped tagging along as they've grown up. Maybe they secretly like peace as much as we do.

However, it doesn't suit everyone. It appeals to those who understand that the tax you pay for natural beauty is levied in the form of unreliable weather. It's Brittany's climate - which tends to attract the adjective 'bracing' - which stops the flat golden beaches along the 1,700km of its coast from being as crowded as they would be on the Riviera. Brittany draws the people best equipped to deal with Brittany: you'll find very few people concerned with ensuring their tan reaches everywhere, but lots of people who think that a beach is best used for doing something on.

It means not many pale English dads slumbering in deck chairs, but plenty of pale English dads pacing out beach cricket pitches flat enough to play Test matches on.

Not so many pleasure seekers, but plenty of people who believe that you get out what you put in.

My wife Alyson and I like it because we are huge believers in low expectation holidays.

If you have high expectations about holidays - if you think the sun's going to burn all day, the accommodation will combine all the comforts of home with a fantasy peasant lifestyle, and that there will be uninterrupted wi-fi - then you're going to be disappointed. If, however, you're expecting very little, then much will be given to you.

Finistere has destinations of cultural or geographical interest. …