Welcome to Normandy, Brittany and Pays de Loire, three regions of France, close to each other but different by landscape, food, culture and traditions. Close by the history as under English domination at the Middle-Age. Different by landscapes, climate, cultural attractions, traditions and of course cuisine.
Normandy and Brittany are proud of their little ports where the best fish and shellfish arrive each day. However each claims the values of their terroir and agricultural wealth. These 3 regions are popular for the livestock and dairy farms producing flavorful whole milk, butter, cream and cheese which are used in the local cuisine.
The 1956 division of Normandy into Upper and Lower regions is still controversial. In essence the two regions remain seamless: half-timbered houses and thatched cottages, green pastures with spotted Norman cows, apple orchards and a cuisine rich in butter, cream and cheese—Camembert, Pont l'Evêque, Livarot—washed down with cider and Calvados. Lower Normandy, the southern sector, includes the small port of Honfleur and the beach towns of Deauville and Trouville; the Cotentin peninsula with Cherbourg at its tip; and the spectacular tidal island of Mont-Saint-Michel. Inland, it extends south to Alençon and east beyond the rolling, forested countryside oddly named the Suisse Normande. Facing the English Channel, the World War II D-Day landing beaches extend from Ouistreham at the mouth of the Orne River past Pointe du Hoc to Utah Beach on the Cotentin. The striking Memorial in Caen offers a meditation on war and peace—reason enough to visit the city, although not the only one. In the 11th century Caen belonged to William the Conqueror and Queen Mathilda, who built the citadel and magnificent abbeys on either end of town. The famed medieval tapestry in nearby Bayeux recounts William's conquest of England in lively scenes embroidered on a linen strip nearly 68 yards long. @France Today
Brittany is France's western most region, a wedge jutting into the sea between the English Channel and the Atlantic. The wild perimeter is rocky and jagged—745 miles of deeply indented coastline—and subject to immense tides. In prehistoric times, a mysterious people left hundreds of megaliths, menhirs and dolmens across the interior. After the fall of the Roman Empire, barbarian invasions drove the Celtic Gauls out to the British isles, but in the 5th century they returned to the Breton peninsula—the only region of France that has vividly retained its Celtic heritage. Early medieval history here is wrapped in the mists of Celtic legends—today's Paimpont forest is the ancient Broceliande, where King Arthur's knights sought the Holy Grail and Merlin settled down with the fairy Viviane. The independent Dukes of Brittany ruled from the 9th through the early 16th century, when Brittany was united to France under Francis the First. But until road and rail transport improved in the early 20th century, it remained fairly isolated and turned toward the sea. The Breton Gaelic language is still spoken, and Celtic music with its bagpipes and harps is celebrated with festivals including Interceltique in Lorient. Today, Brittany region is composed of five counties: Cotes d'Armor, Finistere, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Atlantique, and Morbihan. @France Today