La Bretagne

Some places don’t want to give themselves away. Their beauty lies in a cocoon, protected against the aggressions of the many. Some places remain shy despite their splendor. More aware of their flaws than of their qualities. Some places impose greatness in sobriety, they play silent symphonies. Some places shape people more so than people could ever shape them.

La Bretagne is all this.

This region is a root, a flower, and a horizon. It is a castle and a breeze. It is the gray and the humble, the blue and the silent, the green and the painful. It inhabits its people. Its wind thickens the soul; its rain pervades hopes.

Easiness does not belong in Bretagne. Everything there comes at a price. Liking Bretagne is not about enjoying its beauty but about cherishing that price. This region of infinite humility can distinguish minds and souls as much as it can shatter them. Bretagne lovers are people of persistence. They are loyal to its defects to sometimes be privileged enough to enjoy its treasures. The immediateness of its rain fades away before the promise of its sun.

Parisians all fall for the superior beauty of the place. They all, too, fall for the idea of them loving Bretagne. Loving that gray and that rain, loving the cold and the unfriendly, loving the brutality of a character defined day after day by the unstoppable winds. Not all Parisians can take Bretagne. Unchained sunshines and insolent blues are reachable enough. They are easy enough. It takes a form of impermeability to the modern world to prefer the grays of Bretagne over them. Only poets can come back to Bretagne regularly, only they can cope with its superb attitude.

Most Parisians are deeply certain they love Bretagne. Yet very few go there repeatedly: “Attends, je bosse comme un dingue, je veux pas retrouver à passer un weekend sous la pluie, ah non, no way“. Rain it seems drenches even the most poetic of souls.

The gray skies of Bretagne let us contemplate that, observing this end of a land, one might also catch sight of the end of a world.

Useful tip: The coastline of Bretagne is regularly breathtaking. Explore.

Sound like a Parisian: “Ah non, la Bretagne c’est magnifique, j’aime trop. Par contre les Bretons, qu’est-ce qu’ils picolent!”

Want more? Get the full story here…

Coming to Paris soon? Make sure to put O Chateau on your list. Join us for a wine tasting, a nice glass of wine or simply to meet the author of this silly text. It’ll be a pleasure to have you.


21 replies
  1. noëlle
    noëlle says:

    I can vouch for the “qu’est-ce qu’ils picolent”! When I lived in Toulouse, I had three or four Breton friends and they were all big drinkers. I went to Bretagne with them once and we “picoled” until the sun came up.

  2. peter newman-legros
    peter newman-legros says:

    Poetic. Perhaps someone from the Bretagne tourist board should take note. Also explains the popularity and success of Nolwenn Leroy’s latest musical offering ie enabling the listener to be part of the idea and “le feeling” of brittany without actually having to go there.

  3. JL
    JL says:

    Such yearning and poetic reverie! A lovely homage. You make me want to skip Paris altogether and go straight to Brittany when I come to France this summer! Sounds like it’s spring; a young man’s fancy… But I do hope you and dry humor are still on speaking terms?

  4. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Noëlle… Breton way of life… Most hardly drink wine though…
    Peter… Merci Peter. Lots of English and Dutch tourists there already. They like their grays too.
    JL… Merci beaucoup. Yes – me and my dry humor still speak. Just opened up O Chateau’s new wine bar which gives us many occasions to hang out 😉
    Rosabell… This is true. Or British friends.

  5. craigkite
    craigkite says:

    Olivier, it is a good thing that you don’t share too much of your personal life on your blog. You just seem to share some blood, sweat and tears every now and again. The pathos in this piece is an example of how well you write in a second language. The humor is great, but it is so much better when there is something to contrast with it. This entry provided that contrast. Thanks for the melancholy look at the north country.

  6. Lil
    Lil says:

    i must have been very lucky or the big guy above wants me to totally love bretagne as each time i’ve been there, i was greeted with beautiful sunshine, blue sea, friendliest people and delicious food. must plan another trip there soon. 😉

  7. Bridget
    Bridget says:

    La Bretagne is also a good excuse for Parisiens to put their casual seaside uniforms on….stripped tshirt, casual pants, boat shoes or espadrilles and a pink sweater tied around their necks plus the KWay for the rain. Children are equally as cute in their identical outfits with Petit Bateau raincoats. Activities include sailing, family bike rides, catching small grey prawns and long stolls after big meals. Pass me the bucket!

  8. Olivier Magny
    Olivier Magny says:

    Barbra… You cheeky little thing. These things I’m afraid are not circumstantial.
    Craigkite… What can i say? Thank you very much is I guess in order. It’s lovely to know that loyal readers are also good ones.
    Lil… As they say there “En Bretagne, il fait beau plusieurs fois par jour…”
    Bridget… Oh yes – they love it. Vareuse, bottes, vieux kway et une crêpe sur le port… Sounds like you’re a regular.

  9. Elisabeth
    Elisabeth says:

    I just read “Dessine-moi un Parisien.” What fun, quel plaisir! I’m definitely visiting your wine bar when I am in Paris in May/June! Splendid work, Olivier. Thanks, un Grand Merci!

  10. brad
    brad says:

    many years ago there was a Bretagne resto in Montparnasse (Ty Briz? Spelling may be bad) where we drank dry cider from bowls and ate different courses of crepes with ham and light cheese, then finally with puree d’marron. It was lovely and inexpensive. I knew a wonderful painter from Bretagne (Roger-Francois Thepot, not famous though some critical acclaim from Michel Seuphor, Gilles Plazy, kind of a cult figure) who’s entire palette was, in retrospect, the colors of that landscape.

    Great memories, merci, Olivier.

  11. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    While I love paris most of all, Bretagne is also a favorite. I love the craggy, seaside atmosphere and I was lucky enough to become acquainted with a wonderful family who make their home in Bretagne. As a result of visiting my friends and becoming familiar with Bretagne, I now enjoy the Montparnasse crepe restaurants with a greater sense of appreciation. Le Petit Josselin is my favorite.

  12. Lori
    Lori says:

    This is beautifully written–haunting. I felt the wind of Bretagne while seated on a stool in North Carolina. Who is responsible for this brilliant prose?

  13. Kat
    Kat says:

    When I was 16 I spent a summer in Perros-Guirec avec une famille française to learn French. La Bretagne is truly a wonderful, magical place. I’m a desert girl and I never understood the call of the sea until I spent the summer there. I remember cider, fish, and Celtic music. I was enchanted.

  14. Casa Ceedina
    Casa Ceedina says:

    We love this part of France, indeed it’s sceneray is just awseome. We would like to recommend Ile de Bréhat, it’s a small island visible from the mainland but the colourful pink granite coastline is something you will not forget.

  15. véronique
    véronique says:

    Your description of my homeland is nice.
    (as you know, we do not like superlatives)
    But you forgot to mention that a lot of Parisians are originally from Bretagne and that bretons are not very fond of parisians. this can explain a lot.

Comments are closed.