There was only one subject on the mind of seven-year-old Tom each day during our holiday in Brittany: The beach. More specifically, when would we be going there and how long would we stay.
And to be fair, I was right with him, because in all honesty the beaches of Brittany are fabulous, and in glorious weather like we were enjoying, where else would you rather be?
All that was needed for Tom’s day to be complete on the golden sands was his football. He’d even put up with being smeared with factor 50.
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We were staying at Domaine de Kerlann, French holiday firm Siblu’s biggest mobile home park. It’s tucked away between the picturesque town of Pont Aven, home of an artists’ colony drawn by its unspoilt beauty in the 19th century whose best known member is Paul Gauguin, and the southern coast of Finistère, France’s most westerly province (once familiar to fans of the BBC Shipping Forecast), looking out on the Atlantic with nothing but the ocean between you and the Americas.
After a smooth crossing with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Caen-Ouistreham in a comfy and cosy cabin, and an equally smooth journey down the excellent and uncrowded French motorway, all that remained was to enjoy ourselves.
We were spoilt for choice for beaches during our stay, with a dozen or more within a short drive, ranging from unspoilt plages of golden sand and turquoise water sheltered beneath rocky cliffs and pine trees, to pretty small towns with smart bars and restaurants along the sea front.
That said, if we didn’t fancy getting in the car, our base at Domaine de Kerlann had everything we needed, with a restaurant, takeaway, shop, indoor and outdoor pools, live shows, sports pitches and tennis courts all on site.Our holiday home had pretty much everything we needed too, including a TV, dishwasher and washing machine, barbecue, sheltered garden with sun loungers and sun deck.
Farther afield, we ventured to the regional capital, Quimper (pronounced Kemper), an historic town dating back to Roman times featuring an impressive cathedral and scenic streets of half-timbered buildings to explore, with rows of interesting shops, bars and cafes, and of course those fabulous cake shops you only seem to get in France. An hour’s drive east was Carnac, home to Europe’s largest array of prehistoric standing stones, as many as 3,000 of them, stretching a couple of miles out of town and predating Stonehenge and the pyramids by a couple of thousand years. They really are a sight to see.
The town itself is split into two parts, with the main ville sandwiched between the stones and the beaches and featuring some interesting shops and a museum or two, and the nearby Grand Plage’s five beaches, harbour, smart bars and eating places a magnet on a sunny day.
As for the food and drink, our favourite spot was La Châtaigneraie, a smart but unstuffy place in prime position overlooking the lovely little beach at Port Manec’h, only a short drive from our HQ. The staff are friendly and helpful, the food delicious – we had mussels, hake in a delicious tomato sauce, a burger, a galette with chicken curry and a veggie Buddha bowl on our various visits, washed down with drinks including tasty Breton cider.
The French seem to do the simpler food so well too, with perhaps my favourite of the trip a simple ham salad baguette, made for me by a smiling chap on the front at the chic resort of Bénodet and costing about £4. Just perfect to eat while watching the world go by on the beach. And fuelling up for another kickabout with an energetic seven-year-old absolutely in his element.
We stayed at Siblu’s Domaine de Kerlann holiday village in Brittany, where seven nights from August 20 costs from £777. Go to siblu.co.uk or call 0208 610 0186. We travelled with Brittany Ferries, which operates the longer routes from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth direct to Brittany and Normandy. Travel overnight by luxury cruise-ferry in the comfort of your own cabin with en-suite facilities or be whisked across the channel in as little as three hours. August fares on the Portsmouth to Caen crossing start from £504 return for a car and family of four. Book at brittany-ferries.co.uk or call 0330 159 7000.