The picturesque port of Roscoff on Brittany’s northern coast is the perfect introduction to France’s westernmost region.
Famous for its pink onions (the Roscoff onion) and the Johnny Onions who cross the channel to sell them from their bicycles, Roscoff boasts elegant grey stone buildings, a lovely and unusual church, and a charming high street.
We arrived in the small port bright and early on a Saturday morning on the overnight ferry from Plymouth. Parking our car in one of the side streets near the town centre, we set off for a short stroll along the shorefront, stopping at a wonderful café, Café Ty Pierre, for breakfast.
The café’s signature breakfast comes in a small basket and features a huge croissant, two slices of homemade bread, butter, two jams, honey, nutella, a small glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a large hot drink of your choice. The breakfast was superb and the staff really friendly.
Happily sated, we spent the next hour or so looking around the centre of Roscoff, setting off from the shorefront, where the nearby Ile de Batz was visible across the water.
Roscoff is where five-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, disembarked on her way to the French court to marry the country’s future king Francis Il. And I was amused to discover two houses in the town lay claim to having hosted the young Scots queen during her three day visit in August 1548 – despite the fact that neither existed in 1548!
Moving on from the shorefront, we ambled along Roscoff’s high street, intrigued by its many inviting shops, and stopping at a particularly appealing chocolatier selling kouignettes, which are miniature versions of the kouign amman, a Breton pastry.
The most notable building in Roscoff is the 15th century Église Notre-Dame-de-Croaz-Batz (above).
The beautiful church, which was built using money donated from local merchants and privateers, features an intricately carved spire, while the unusual interior reminded me of a ship’s hull (below).
Having seen almost everything there was to see in Roscoff (the Maison de Johnnie d’Oignion dedicated to the Johnny Onions – which I’d been keen to visit – was sadly closed), we made our way back to our car.
If there’s one word that sums up Roscoff, it’s delightful. The port is exceptionally pretty and I was surprised by how much I liked it and how many great shops and restaurants there were.
It was a fantastic way to begin my Breton adventure and my only regret is that we didn’t have longer there. It’s somewhere I’d love to go back to in the near future for a long weekend – and I’ll be sure to return to Café Ty Pierre for breakfast.
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