5 exciting towns to visit in Brittany this February

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1. Rennes - a foodie's paradise

Love good, hearty cuisine that tastes like it's from a country kitchen and beautiful wines that have been grown organically? You'll find both in Rennes, the home of a unique gastronomical experience known as Bistrologie.

Famed for its legendary market at the Place des Lices, one of the largest in France, Rennes has some incredible market cuisine but it is the combination of this cuisine with the bistro culture in the town, and the stunning, so-called natural wines, that make up the whole Bistrologie experience.

Whether you're buying food from a street vendor in the cobbled streets or sat down in one of its many great restaurants, you'll enjoy great quality fare with a local flavour wherever you go in Rennes.

2. Quimper - for culture lovers

Charming Quimper is a wonderful historic town to lose a few hours walking around in but it is also the cultural heart of Brittany and there are some great places to visit. The Musée Departmental Breton is the regional museum of Brittany and has a fantastic collection of traditional Breton costumes and other artefacts. 

There's also a wonderful Fine Arts museum, featuring local artistic movements such as the Pont-Aven school of painting founded by Paul Gaugin and a large selection of paintings inspired by Breton landscapes and legends.

Quimper itself is renowned for a distinctive type of artwork, a type of pottery called faïence. The faïence workshops are in the historic quarter of Locmaria, that dates back to Roman times. This unique hand-painted earthenware is still produced today at HB Henriots and a large collection of over 500 pieces is on display at the Musée de la Faïence.

3. Saint-Brieuc - a shopping haven

If you were born to shop then Saint-Brieuc is the place to go. With fantastic artisanal workshops filled with unusual artworks, original clothing boutiques where you can pick up some distinctive pieces and specialist food shops where you can try some traditional Breton terroir such as seafood, cheeses and cakes, there is much for shoppers to enjoy in this small seaside town.

Don't leave without a visit to the Made in Breizh store where you can buy local handmade goods including soaps, candles, toys and more. Perched on the cliffs of the Breton coast, Saint-Brieuc has some stunning medieval half-timber houses, their gables hanging over the streets as you browse the shop windows. Great shopping is rarely this quaintly picturesque.

The bay of Saint-Brieuc is famous for its shellfish with oysters and scallops farmed in the bay. Top off your shopping trip by trying these delicious local delicacies in the town's fine restaurants.

4. Brest - for photography fans

Every year, Brest holds a photography festival and this year it is running from January until 26 February. For this edition of the festival, the focus is on the lives of workers and features some remarkable images from around the world. From the daily lives of laceworkers in France, captured by Olivia Gay, to the portraits of Mexican immigrant workers by Dulce Pinzón entitled 'The true story of superheroes', it is a discovery of what it means to be working today.

If the festival leaves you inspired to take up your own camera, there are many photo opportunities in Brest. From the picturesque fortress of the Château de Brest standing tall on the coast to Brest's more cosmopolitan and industrial faces, there is much to explore with a photographer's eye.

Brest's illustrious maritime heritage is well-known and in July this year, the Brest Maritime Festival returns, which only happens every four years. A date to put in the diary! For now though, learn all about what's under the sea at Océanopolis, a spectacular aquarium that includes the AbyssBox, where you can see deep sea animals up-close in a tank kept at the pressure of 1,800-2,000 meters below sea level.

5. Vannes - a peaceful sanctuary

If you're looking for somewhere to unwind and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere so unique to Brittany, Vannes should be top of your list. Situated in southern Brittany, beside the Gulf of Morbihan, this medieval walled town is one of the most attractive places in the whole region.

Pretty cobbled streets filled with boutiques, markets, restaurants and traditional crêperies and a pleasant marina, where you can watch the boats or enjoy an evening sipping cups of cidre on the café terraces, make Vannes a peaceful spot.

The Gulf of Morbihan is perfect for finding some quiet time out on a sailing boat or enjoying a walk around the coastline so you can enjoy a breath of the fresh sea air.

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