ça gaz? (pronounced ZE-GAZ for all you non-French speakers!) That’s how you say “what’s up” in Brittany, France’s northwesternmost region, which is where I found myself spending the majority of my summer.
Even if i was the short and stumpy, loud American girl who stood out like a sore thumb, the place became a home thanks to a very cute Breton boy and his kind family & friends. TBH, I’ve never had any real interest in France and never really cared much for French people — i always found them to be too standoffish and too poo-pooey. If it were up to me, I would have preferred to fall in love with a Latin American man so I could improve my Spanish and dance skills and maybe live on a beach, but of course the universe always has it’s own plan in mind and so OKAY YOU WIN UNIVERSE…. Any person from Bretagne (proper french spelling of the region) would say that they’re not as much French as they are “Breton!!” This is their flag below, and you will now weirdly see it every single place you go (i swear.. i’ve seen it in Brazil, in the Netherlands, in Australia.. everywhere!!) They are very proud people!
Before I arrived, I was told from this very cute and very biased source that Brittany was the best place in France — it had the best strawberries, the best parties, the best coastline, the best crepes, and the best looking people (okay the last part i made up, but i think it’s true!) According to Lonely Planet, "Brittany is for explorers. Its wild, dramatic coastline, medieval towns and thick forests make an excursion here well worth the detour off the beaten track. This is a land of prehistoric mysticism, proud tradition and culinary wealth, where fiercely independent locals celebrate Breton culture, and Paris feels a long way away indeed.”
And me, being an explorer (and also a little smitten kitten) meant i obviously had to check it out. sooo i packed my bags, and headed to Brest, a major port city in Brittany. On the way there I found myself grabbing my boobs and shouting “BREAST!” at the ticket guy in Paris since French people do not like the letter R and refuse to pronounce it (insider’s tip: French people pronounce Brest like BWEST, in case you ever decide to visit. I’ve been told that real Breton people call the place Brest même, but with the accent and all.. BWEST is much easier)
The original plan was to stay for a week or two in Brittany and then travel onward, but as per usual, i changed my plans and ended up staying way longer cus the weather was great, the food was delicious, the booze was cheap, the parties were fun…. and i guess the company wasn’t TOO bad. I was even there when they won the world cup (obviously wasn’t going pass up a chance to witness a historic moment and also huge frikin partyyyy — though I was in Nantes, which was the former capital of Brittany, but now part of the Loire region!)
While Brittany is notoriously known for having gross, grey weather for the majority of the year, it was bright and sunny for almost the entire time i was there (i’m just gonna say that i brought the sunshine) We spent a bunch of days hanging out on the beach (they have many, many beautiful ones, though the water is freezing cold so i mainly floated around on SUP boards or kayaks, though once in a while i was shoved in by some asshole!); camping outdoors; going to open air festivals, including Astropolis, one of France’s oldest techno festivals held in a medieval castle, where we danced the night away; and doing lots of eating and drinking... BOYY, did I eat well (too well, says my stretchy pants)
France obviously has a very excellent culinary reputation, and Brittany has it’s own distinct and delicious dishes: galletes (basically crepes but made with buckwheat flour, which people actually do admit is the best in the country), salted butter (they put it on EVERYTHING. they NEVER cook with oil) oysters (the original cancales!!!), mussels (since it’s so close to the sea, the seafood is nom noms!!!) and of course, your standard French baguettes (apparently they’re better than the ones in the US cus they have eXXXtra gluten.. we also always had to have an emergency baguette in case we ate one whole one.. which we did, every, single, day!!!) French cheese (too many to name but not a fan of roquefort, the stinky stuff, that tastes like a crayon IMHO.. gross! i think u have to be French to enjoy it), and pastries (pain au chocolat & croissants!!!)
Then of course, there's booze. Breton people REALLY REALLY REALLY like to drink. More specifically, they REALLY REALLY REALLY like to drink rum, which happens to also be the cheapest and most prolific spirit thanks to colonization. There was also a lot of delicious wines (white and rose for the summer, duh) & beers (tbh, mostly from belgium) & ciders (which are dry and traditionally sipped out of little tea cups. sneaky, classy, drunks)
Drove to a tiny village to watch the Tour de France
Went to Nantes to watch the World Cup final after partying in a warehouse all night long…
And even ventured all the way to Paris (something this coastal dude hates!!!)
I absolutely fell in love with Paris, despite having very bla feelings about it before — i loved how each neighborhood had a different vibe and each person had their own swag, and yet, they were still so Parisian. I love seeing the multicultural France — one filled with black, brown, white, and yellow faces (mostly due to colonization, but that’s a whole other post that i have yet to tackle…) it probably helps that i’ve made quite a number of friends who live in Paris and who are absolute LEGENDS (and all female too.. sorry still don’t really like Parisian men!!) I can’t wait to go back and discover more of it (and hopefully speak a bit of french cus right now i know nada… i don’t even know the word for nothing!!!!)
Anywhose, my time in France (mainly Brittany) was really great, though I’d really, really, really like to explore more of the country. The Alps, the Pyrenees, Corsica… there’s so much to discover… hopefully it won’t be the last of my France adventures!
I guess this post lacks a lot of reflection & deep and meaningful thoughts, but honestly, I was so relieved and happy to finally be reunited with this person after months of being apart! plus it was so nice to see that i was able to get on with his friends & family and “fit” into his “real” life. i think travel romances tend to fall apart once you get back to your “realities” (though mine is still pretty convoluted) and all the excitement fades away… but really.. i was so content to spend time doing the very mundane and boring things couples do together …like cooking and eating meals, watching movies, laughing and making stupid jokes, teasing and annoying each other, thoughtful conversations, falling asleep and waking up next to each other… plus all the other intimate stuff i cannot talk about here :) the things you take for granted when you can see each other every single day.. those are the things i miss the most when we’re not together. the enjoyment of each other’s company. Our days were fun and easy (just like our relationship) and the place he grew up in is just as idyllic —it’s hard to complain or find any real issues (which is actually one of my complaints, but that’s just me being me) in some ways, we grew up very differently, and in other ways, we had similar upbringings. i’m always learning from him and i’m happy to share this little slice of his life.
ANYWAY, i promise i’ll stop talking about *HIM* and all this lovey dovey stuff, at least for the next post cus i headed to Greece, where i ditched the guy and went to see my best girlll fran muahahahahahahhaa