Friday 3 October 2014

Oyster farm in Morlaix, Brittany, Northwest France

Brittany is well-known for its seafood, particularly Creuse oysters.  Creuses from the northern coast is exported all over the world, and could fetch handsome prices in select supermarkets and restaurants.  Are they worth the price you pay? - or are you simply paying middlemen? 

The famous oyster farms are located in Cancale, about 70km north of Rennes, the capital of Brittany.  It is a great place not just for the regular Creuse - I will get to that in another post.  However, in recent years, it has become a bustling tourist town, so I head out in search for more hidden spots along the
coast.  I thus came upon the town of Morlaix, far west of Brittany and deep into the Breton countryside.

I first came to Morlaix years ago.  It sits in the Finistère department of France, literally meaning the region at the end of the land.  The old town is one of the most beautiful, lined with old half-timbered houses, Romanesque church and cathedral, a grand Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), all basking in the shadow of a meticulously preserved viaduct.  Used as a railway bridge, it was built in 1861 entirely out of stones.  All these are as impressive as they sound, but one stop I needed to make: a small restaurant on the old cobblestone street called Bar de Viarmes that serves 9 oysters with a glass of wine, bread, and Breton butter for just 7€.  Needless to say, this was just a starter for me.

This sign points to the well known half-timbered houses in Morlaix

The Breton butter is made with sea salt farmed from the surrounding ocean. 

Morlaix was originally conceived as a port, as it was built on the shore of the Morlaix River.  Heading north outside Morlaix towards the sea, we used the road that runs parallel to the river.  In about 7km, we reached the mouth of the river and spotted another smaller islet on the east, the River Dourduff.  It seemed unusually quiet but well-appointed, and so we decided to investigate further - and we hit the jackpot.

Tucked in a remote corner of the village, away from the beautiful row of houses, is an oyster farm, completely clueless, completely unnoticeable.  Once inside, there was only one word needed in our vocabulary: oysters.  The freshest, largest, tastiest oysters at the best prices I have ever seen.  We ordered up dozens of Creuse No. 0 (the largest of the type), surrendering mere 6€ for each dozen. 

Two things I will eternally miss about Brittany, its oysters and its butter.  This, to me, is a little corner of heaven. 

Morlaix lies 60km northeast of Brest, the second city of Brittany.  Brest is served by a well-equipped airport and direct flights are available from the UK, Italy, France, Spain, and even Greece and Morocco.

Official site:

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