<![CDATA[Holiday Cottage Brittany - Ty Hir - Blog]]>Sat, 25 Feb 2017 08:23:55 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[Five Fun Things to do with the Family in Finistere]]>Sun, 25 Jan 2015 20:14:12 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/five-fun-things-to-do-with-the-family-in-finistereSummer fun for all the family at our gites near Huelgoat in BrittanySummer fun for all the family at our gites
Whilst there is plenty to keep the family occupied whilst staying at our holiday cottages, like splashing around in the paddling pools, kicking the footy around the large lawn, playing a bit of badminton or riding our bikes, youngsters are likely to demand more. 

Fortunately there are lots of fun things to keep the kids occupied within easy reach of the gites as you can see on our Children's Activities page. As well as the traditional theme and adventure parks that you would expect, we have a few suggestions of places that we think your children may enjoy visiing whilst staying at Ty Hir in central Brittany.

Oceanopolis

Oceanopolis Brest Finistere BrittanyGet up close and personal with the Penguins at Oceanopolis
When my niece and nephew came to stay last year it gave me a much longed for opportunity to visit Oceanopolis in Brest, just an hour by car.

There are three exhibition pavilions featuring tropical, polar and temperate ecosystems. I was particularly impressed with the polar zone where you could view a variety of penguins both on land and under water.  

Playground Oceanopolis, Brest, Finistere, BrittanyPlaytime at Oceanopolis in Brest
Over fifty aquariums, big and small allow close up views of small fish like clownfish and colourful parrotfish. Larger predators such as sharks and swordfish swim overhead as you pass through one of the larger aquariums with schools of tuna. Turtles and seals tease you through the glass as they perform underwater acrobatics. Descriptions of the exhibitions are available in English as well as French.

The are plenty of places to eat on site, from the self service canteen where we ate, with a stunning view over the Rade de Brest, to a brasserie and take away outlets. You will find plenty of places for a picnic and there is a great playground which the kids really seemed to enjoy.

Huelgoat

La Roche Tremblante Huelgoat, Finistere BrittanyCan you lift the huge Roche Tremblante in Huelgoat Forest?
Huelgoat is only a 15 minute drive from the gites. At any time of the year the kids can enjoy scrambling over the huge boulders which litter the adjoining forest floor and line the shallow river Argent. Find the pivot point and lift the 137 tonnes La Roche Tremblante. Discover the huge mushroom shape rock known as the Champignon or go for a cooling dip in the Wild Boar Pool. There are miles of marked trails for easy walking. 

Miellerie de Huelgoat Honey Shop BrittanyMiellerie de Huelgoat
Maybe visit the Miellerie de Huelgoat which sells honey from the surrounding Monts d'Arrée. Here you can see into a live bee colony displayed behind a glass panel in the shop.

During summer you can hire an electric boat from Port du Lac on the lake. Finish your visit with a trip to the ice cream parlour on the edge of the lake or stop at one of the many Creperies in Huelgoat where you can enjoy sweet and savoury Breton pancakes.

Beaches

Beach BrittanyIt is easy to reach the coast of Brittany from our gites
A trip to the seaside is always a family favourite and we are lucky to be centrally placed to reach all three coast of Brittany easily. Brittany is blessed with many golden, shallow sandy beaches. 

Our closest sandy beach is Plage Pentrez at the start of the Crozon Peninsular. It is a 45 minute drive from the cottages. See our Beaches page for some of our favourites.

Chateaus

Manoir de Kerazan, Loctudy, Finistere, BrittanyManoir de Kerazan near Loctudy in southern Brittany
If you want fairy tale castles you will find them aplenty in Finistere. From the Pink Chateau of Trevarez in nearby Chateauneuf-du-Faou to the impressive Manoir de Kerazan near Loctudy in the south there are plenty of palaces to take your prince or princess. The Chateau de Brest houses the National Navy Museum

There are also many interesting forts and abbeys to be found locally which you can discover on our Chateaus, Abbeys & Forts webpage.

Megaliths

Ty ar Boudiged Maison des Fees, House of the Fairies, Brennilis, Finistere, BrittanyHouse of the Fairies megalith at Brennilis with a little elf
Are you old enough to remember when you could visit Stonehenge and still climb on the stones? Well you will find that there are no such restrictions on the standing stones in Brittany other than at Cairn de Barnenez. All that is asked is respect for these ancient monuments but you are encouraged to explore these amazing megalithic markers up close and personal.

Standing stone Quintin BrittanyThe countryside of Brittany is littered with standing stones
Climb into a timeworn alley grave and discover archaic symbols carved into the rock. My nephew was small enough to explore Ty ar Boudiged (House of the Fairies) burial chamber at nearby Brennilis without bumping his head. 

Be dwarfed by huge menhirs reaching over 8 metres in height and ponder how they moved them to the site and then raised them into place.

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<![CDATA[Silent Sunday - 18 January 2015]]>Sun, 18 Jan 2015 10:28:03 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/silent-sunday-18-january-2015
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<![CDATA[Christmas Traditions and Legends in Brittany]]>Sun, 14 Dec 2014 19:14:43 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/christmas-traditions-and-legends-in-brittanyPicture
Christmas in France is known as Noel. It is still a major family celebration and very much orientated around children. 

Brittany has its own special festive legends and traditions associated with this major religious holiday. The Breton word for Christmas is Nedeleg.

The feast of Saint-Nicolas, who after his death was transformed into the legendary character we know as Santa Claus, or Le père Noël in France, falls on December 6.

The Celts (Bretons are considered one of the six Celtic nations) held a winter solstice festival, celebrating the rebirth of the sun, on December 23. Nowadays much of Brittany is Catholic. This is celebrated in the great Parish Closes which in particular can be found in Finistere. 
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In the past in Brittany during the Advent season, children, known as little "Noëlloux", went from door to door chanting this refrain:

"Chantons Noël pour une pommepour une poirepour un petit coup de cidre à boire" This translates roughly as: "Christmas, sing for an apple, for a pear, for a little shot of cider to drink"

Their song was rewarded with pennies or candies, presumably they were considered too young to drink!

In Brittany "sabots de noël", Christmas French clogs, were filled with red apples called a "paradise apple" or an orange. Excited children would wake early to find their special gifts on Christmas morning.

Le menhir de Kerloas near Redon in FinistereMenhir de Kerloas near Redon in Finistere
Le menhir de Kerloas, the tallest standing stone in the world, has its very own Christmas legend. This says that a hidden treasure is only revealed on Christmas night. At the stroke of midnight the menhir runs to drink from the ocean. 

By the time twelfth stroke has sounded it returns to its place. Woe to the unwary who, dazzled by the riches revealed, have forgotten the time and are crushed!

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The Yule log or "Buche de Noël" originally had a practical purpose instead of the gourmet use associated with it today. Before leaving for mass, a family shared a crepe and lit a log sprinkled with holy water.

The huge buche or "Kef Nedeleg" in Breton was slow burning as it needed to last several days over the festive period. The embers of the log had purported medicinal virtues and were also believed to provide protection against lightning and snakes. 

Guests were offered coals in sabots to take with them upon their return home.

Spruce is the traditional Christmas tree in Brittany. In Breton it is called "ar wezenn Nedeleg". Celts dedicated themselves to this tree on the winter solstice and called it "the tree of childbirth".

2014 marks our third year as the lucky owners of Ty Hir. A lot has changed and hopefully improved in that time. We plan to continue those improvements in 2015. We have been blessed by the wonderful guests who have chosen to stay at our holiday cottages in Brittany. We would like to wish our past guests and the readers of this blog a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Nedeleg laouen and Joyeux Noël!
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<![CDATA[Silent Sunday - 16 November 2014]]>Sun, 16 Nov 2014 11:36:57 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/silent-sunday-16-november-2014
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<![CDATA[Why it's a good time to holiday or buy in Brittany]]>Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:44:09 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/why-its-a-good-time-to-holiday-or-buy-in-brittanyPeter Lavelle of Pure FX is our guest blogger today. Not only is it a good time to rent a self-catering cottage in Brittany, it's a great time if you are looking to buy a property there. The gites at Ty Hir are a perfect house hunting base!

Pound flies versus euro, cutting cost of renting gites in Brittany

Great news if you plan to rent a gite in Brittany! It's now markedly cheaper for you to do so, because the pound has hit its highest against the euro in 2 years, or since July 2012, at 1.2867.

What this means is that when you exchange currencies to visit Brittany, you'll get more euros. For example, if you exchange £1,250 to spend a fortnight in France, you'll now get +€180 more than 18 months ago, when the pound was at just 1.1371.

So that's +€180 more in your pocket, at no additional cost! With that money, you could extend your holiday in Brittany an extra day, enjoy some gourmet French cuisine, or just pocket the saving.

Sterling has risen, because the UK economy is doing so much better than the Eurozone's. For instance, UK unemployment fell to 6.0% this week, its least since 2008, while the Eurozone's is almost double. That's lifted the pound!

With this in mind, it's a great time to rent a gite in Brittany, as the strong pound gives you more spending money.

By Peter Lavelle at foreign exchange broker Pure FX. For free expert currency advice when you visit Brittany, call me on +44 (0) 1494 671800 or email peter.lavelle@purefx.co.uk. I'll be delighted to help.
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<![CDATA[Why we Tweet so much about our gites in Brittany]]>Sat, 27 Sep 2014 19:55:01 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/why-we-tweet-so-much-about-our-gites-in-brittanyI was recently asked to write about my top tip for renting out the gites at Ty Hir. I wrote an article but in the event only managed to get a brief quote here on opp connect. This was flattering though also slightly disappointing. I thought for those of you who do follow us via social media you might be interested to know why we are so prolific in our posts. The short answer is, it helps our guests find us.

After recent scandals making the press with big holiday letting companies being hacked and holiday makers and holiday rental owners being scammed and both losing money, you can see the appeal of dealing with owners direct. Here is my article in full: Picture
So you want to know my top tip for renting my two holiday properties in central Brittany? Well it has to be – use social media! It is the best advice that I have been given as an independent owner of holiday lets. 

I originally thought that Twitter was for Twits and Facebook for keeping in touch with family and friends. I since have discovered that this is simply not the case. Nowadays, most of our bookings come via Twitter. 

Grand Longere gite near Huelgoat in BrittanyA photo of the Grand Longere Tweeted by one of our guests
I think my success with Twitter is the personal interaction between myself and potential guests. I tweet about our holiday cottages and also about our local area, in particular things that I think that are distinct to Finistere, our Department in France. Parish Closes are unique to Brittany and we have a high concentration of megalithic sites. We are also surrounded by a beautiful rolling landscape with many marked walking trails. 

PictureA review from one of our guests who found us on Twitter
My husband and I love exploring the area both by car and on foot. I always take my camera to capture the beauty of the countryside and coast which is within easy reach. I use these pictures in my tweets and on our Facebook business page. We also have a Pinterest page which generates traffic to our website. This can be linked with Twitter so when I pin a picture from our website it creates a Tweet. 
You can also link Facebook to Twitter too. Finally we have a Google Plus account. I am still very much finding my feet on there but some of our posts on there come up on Google searches so I must be doing something right - I think!

PictureComments in the Petit Longere guest book from Twitter clients
All this Tweeting and Facebooking is time consuming. You must be prepared to regularly post interesting and eye catching updates and to monitor the activity on your accounts. 

You need to work out when your target audience is most likely to be active. Always remember to thank people for interacting with you and you must return retweets! These activities, when linked with your website, can help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). I also write a blog which automatically tweets each new post.

PictureIt's great to hear that our guests are enjoying their stay in Brittany
It is great when our guests Tweet whilst they are staying at the gites or post photos on Facebook, we know that they are enjoying their holiday which is our main concern. 
It is one of the advantages of having free WiFi internet access at the gites. Life has become very interactive nowadays!

Don’t forget the social side of social media either. Be yourself, be open and honest and you never know, you might make 
some new virtual friends who even sometimes become real friends in the end. 

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<![CDATA[Megalithic Madness in Brittany Continued]]>Thu, 04 Sep 2014 19:17:53 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/megalithic-madness-in-brittany-continuedIt has been over 18 months since I wrote a post specifically about our megalithic obsession. We still make it a point to try to discover one new megalithic site on each trip to Brittany. Some are easy to find, others more challenging, others we stumble across accidentally! The landscape of Brittany is literally littered with these fascinating ancient structures. Here are a few that we have visited since my last update.  

Le Menhir de Men-Marz, Brignongan, Finistere

Le Menhir de Men-Marz, Brignongan, FinistereLe Menhir de Men-Marz, Brignongan, Finistere
At 8.50 meters this standing stone is one of the four largest menhirs in France. Unlike most other monuments of this kind, its base is not buried but sits on the ground. Christianized in the Middle Ages, the menhir was purchased by the state in 1881 for one hundred francs. 

According to legend, Saint Pol Aurélien and his sister stopped the invasion of the sea here. The "miracle stone" marks the boundary of the tide.

There is a tradition that girls wishing to marry throw a stone to a ledge on the menhir. If the stone stays in place a union will take place within a year. You can still see some of the stones. 

Gibet des Moines, Saint Mathieu, Finistere

Gibet des Moines, Saint Mathieu, Finistere, BrittanyGibet des Moines, Saint Mathieu, Finistere
Lying just inland from the imposing ruins of the abbey of Saint Mathieu, at the far end of Finistere, you will find two more Christianized standing stones. Nicknamed the "Gallows Monks", they date from the Iron Age

Local legend has it that the bodies of criminals were left exposed on the menhirs until they are eaten by scavengers to serve as a warning to others.

After visiting these gruesome monuments you may feel the need to retire to the nearby bar at the Hostellerie De la Pointe Saint Mathieu for a restorative drink (or two).

Prajou Menhir Allee-Couverte, Trébeurden, Côtes-d'Armor

Prajou Menhir Allee-Couverte, Trébeurden, Côtes-d'Armor, BrittanyPrajou Menhir Allee-Couverte, Trébeurden, Côtes-d'Armor
The covered alley grave of Prajou Menhir, meaning 'grasslands of the long stones', dates back to around 2100 BC. It lies in marshland on the edge of a small bay looking towards the pretty Île Grande, just over the border in neighbouring Côtes-d'Armor.

The monument measures 14.5 meters in length and has seven large granite capstones. Some of the stones have engravings including one of the mother goddess wearing a collar.

Roc'h Toul Dolmen, Maël-Pestivien, Côtes-d'Armor

Roc'h Toul Dolmen, Maël-Pestivien, Côtes-d'Armor, BrittanyRoc'h Toul Dolmen, Maël-Pestivien, Côtes-d'Armor
This dolmen is a little more difficult to find than some of the others. It is signposted from Maël-Pestivien. It lies on what seems like a farm track, though it is actually a road. There is quite a steep hairpin bend - we were glad that there was no other traffic!

Dolmens are sometimes called 'fairy houses' and you can let your imagination run away with you in this isolated setting. 

In the field to the side of this ancient tomb you will find a small stele, these were believed to be used as grave markers.

Pergat Menhir, Louargat, Côtes-d'Armor

Pergat Menhir, Louargat, Côtes-d'Armor, BrittanyPergat Menhir, Louargat, Côtes-d'Armor
Pergat actually consists of three menhirs, a huge standing stone of 7.5 meters, believed to be around 7000 years old; a much smaller standing stone opposite; and lying in between the two a fallen menhir which is about 6 meters in length. In the past they would have formed a small alignment.

They lie in a small clearing off the D31 north of Louargat. The site is signposted from the road, just follow the footpath. A perfect location for a peaceful picnic. There is a small stream nearby.

We also revisited the Lagatjar Alignments which lie on the outskirts of Camaret-sur-Mer on the Crozon Peninsular.  Probably one of the most impressive sites outside of Carnac in Brittany.

If you are planning to go on your own megalithic hunting trip in Brittany we highly recommend the Guide to the MENHIRS and other MEGALITHS of Central Brittany.
Lagatjar Alignments, Camaret-sur-Mer, Crozon Peninsular, Finistere, Brittany
Part of the Lagatjar Alignments, Camaret-sur-Mer, Crozon Peninsular, Finistere
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<![CDATA[Silent Sunday - 3 August 2014]]>Sun, 03 Aug 2014 08:25:28 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/silent-sunday-3-august-2014
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<![CDATA[Breton Cider - Superb!]]>Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:27:46 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/breton-cider-superbTraditional Breton fare, a crepe with ciderTraditional Breton fare, a crepe with cider
As anyone who has visited Brittany will know, the local brew of choice, particularly when dining on crepes, is cider or cidre in French. Traditionally Breton cider is served in a clay cup called ‘Bolée’.

Cider is normally made between September and December with apples (pommes) that have fallen to the earth. They are left on the ground to mature. The best specimens are then collected and sent for pressing.

Apples from a local orchard near Plouye, BrittanyApples from a local orchard near Plouye, Brittany
Prior to pressing the apples must be washed or the cider will not keep. Rotten apples are removed as they make a cider low in alcohol. The apples are ground using a scratter or mill to make the extraction of juice easier. The resulting pulp is left to rest in order to get a deeper colour and more flavour. The pulp or mash is then layered in hessian cloths to form what are called "cheeses". These are then pressed slowly to release the juice or "wort" which is strained into casks or vats. 

Kir Breton is made with cidre and cassisKir Breton is made with cidre and cassis
The wort needs to be clarified which involves removing the thick brown crust or "chapeau brun" (brown hat) which naturally forms on top of the liquid at the start of fermentation. 

As fermentation continues the wort will become clear and the natural sugars transformed into alcohol by the yeast. The longer the cider is left to ferment the more dense and sweet it will be. The taste also becomes more complex. Early bottled cider will be the driest of all.

Cidre Fermier LandeleauCidre Fermier Landeleau
In Brittany there are quiet a few large cider producers, such as Val de Rance which you will find in many bars and creperies. We are lucky to have our very own "cidrerie" or cider maker within a five minute drive of the gites. 

Jacky Dorval lives in the tiny hamlet of Kervalen near Landeleau. He has is a small cider farm, where you can buy cider, apple juice, apple jelly and other local treats.

They make three different types of cider: brut, demi sec and Guillevec. Our favourite is demi sec which is the sweetest. It is labelled Cidre Fermier. They offer onsite tastings and direct sales. It cheaper to purchase your cider from them and a fun and friendly experience that we highly recommend. If you stop by don't worry about the dog, it's noisy but friendly and just wants a tummy tickle really. Cheers or yec'hed mat as they say in Brittany!

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<![CDATA[An award winning blog!]]>Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:28:16 GMThttp://www.lostinfinistere.com/blog/an-award-winning-blogPicture
I would like to thank my fellow blogger Rosie Hill for nominating our blog for a Liebster Award. Rosie writes a blog about her Eco-Gites of Lenault which you will find in the beautiful countryside of Swiss Normandy. I am very honoured though I confess I was a little bewildered at first. A little research has revealed the award is a fun way for bloggers to share blogs that they enjoy.

Liebster has a number of meanings. Some of these are: dearest, sweetest, kindest and nicest - all delightful and flattering!

Rosie has set me seven questions which I have answered below. 

1. How many blog posts have you published?

It is difficult to know the exact number but after a false start in August 2011 it must be around 50 posts. Never having blogged before it has been a challenge but I am lucky that I have discovered so many wonderful places in Brittany to write about. 

2. Where do you get your blogging inspiration from?

Well, as I mentioned above, Brittany is beautiful and there are loads of wonderful places we have visited, particularly in Finistere. Until we acquired our gites near Huelgoat we really hadn't explored the area much. I have discovered that we both have a real passion for the area which I hope shines through in my posts.

  1. 3. If you could only visit one more place where would it be and why?

We have been extremely lucky have travelled to many interesting and exotic places around the world in the past. Most of our trips have been orientated around wildlife. I would love to see polar bears (and other Arctic wildlife) in their natural habitat in Norway. These beautiful majestic animals are under huge threat as the sea ice reduces each year. We only have a limited time to appreciate them and try to mitigate the risk of losing them forever.

4. Excluding your travel documents, some clean underwear and some sort of finances, what one item would you never be without when travelling?

A good book! Boring but true. Part of my bedtime relaxation ritual is to absorb myself an engaging read. At the moment I am reading about King George IV which is fascinating. I like to alternate between fiction and non-fiction. I will enter a slight panic mode if I have forgotten my book or don't have another to hand once I've finished with my current one.

  1. 5. If I say FRANCE to you what are the first 5 things that come into your mind?

1. Beautiful varied landscapes
2. Chateaus
3. Fresh baguettes with Breton salted butter
4. Quiet traffic free roads (except around Paris!)
5. Fantastic seafood - I am a huge fan of Coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops)

  1. 6. Where was your first holiday?

  1. 7.Through your blog has anything unusual or surprising happened to you

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