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The Most Beautiful Villages of Brittany Hardcover – September 1, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The latest installment of the lavishly illustrated Most Beautiful Villages series focuses on the picturesque hamlets of Brittany in northwest France. Written by James Bentley and photographed by Hugh Palmer, The Most Beautiful Villages of Brittany depicts the rich history of the proud and independent Bretons (who trace their ancestry back to the Celts). With 2,100 miles of coastline, the region's livelihood has forever been intertwined with a sometimes unforgiving sea, and the still-standing granite Romanesque homes and churches built centuries ago reflect the considerable Breton resilience. Well organized, the book is divided into four chapters, each dedicated to an area of Brittany (Finistère, Morbihan, Ille-et-Vilaine and Côtes-d'Armor), with villages listed alphabetically. Highlights include Josselin's medieval fortifications, Treguier's unique half-timbered houses, the steeply pitched roofs in Becherel, and the stunning rock formations and sandy beaches found along the famous pink granite coast of Ploumanac'h'. Throughout the book are wonderful shots of harbors dotted with colorful fishing boats, charming flower-filled town squares, intricate stained glass, and windows adorned with delicate Brittany lace. The last chapter, "Traveller's Guide," lists practical information (hotels, restaurants), as well as downright necessities (local creperies). --Jill Fergus


The ninth title in Thames and Hudson's "Most Beautiful Villages" series is, perhaps, the most beautiful. The reason: its subject is Brittany, which boasts Atlantic fishing villages, medieval timbered towns, pastoral landscapes and historical Gothic cathedrals. . . . the book has a Traveler's Guide at the end, which lists hotels, local festival dates and-in almost every village-an address for that very Breton institution, the crperie. -- Town and Country Magazine, September 1999

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Product Details

  • Series: Most Beautiful Villages
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; First Edition edition (September 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500019355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500019351
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 1 x 12.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Speaking as a native New Englander, I feel like I've seen enough terrific-looking towns that I can appreciate a really beautiful village. The ones photographed in this book are spectacular. This really is a great coffee table book. The colors in the photos just draw the eye in. It's hard to describe... You will see a whole village of ancient stone buildings, with rock walls in a sort of dusky brown, and suddenly, off to the side, a brightly colored painted boat. Or maybe just a little flower garden, with lots of little Manet-esque red blossoms. And the architecture, or course, is uniformly, yet diversely, amazing. Roman, medieval, and (slightly) more modern, it all just fits together so beautifully. Furthermore, the whole book is full of cool little articles talking about historically interesting tidbits of history, legend, etc. from the region.
Also -- if anyone who enjoys this book has reading ability in French, I'd like to recommend "La Langue Gauloise", by P.Y. Lambert. It talks about the original language of France, "Gaulish", an early Celtic tongue, from before the days of Caesar and friends. I think that one of the intriguing things about Brittany is that this original, pre-Romance-languages tongue of the region was largely reinstated, in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., by Celtic-speaking refugees when Britain was being overrun by the Germanic-speaking Angles and Saxons. I think it's interesting to look at the place names in Brittany, and try to learn whether they were named back in prehistoric times, or in the era since the 5th and 6th century. This is the kind of question that this book raises -- the concatenated sense of sedimentary century laid upon century, laid upon century, is absolutely enthralling.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is one in a series of "The Most Beautiful Villages of...". Although they all have different authors the photography is exceptional. The book concentrates on four areas and the villages that make up each area. There is a short history of each region as well as interesting information on the villages and captions on the photos. In my opinion it is the photographs that give this book five stars. It is a wonderful "coffee table" book to own.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful full-color coffee table book of photography with text. Brittany is the northwest region of France, much of it being coastal, which makes fishing the primary occupation of its inhabitants.

As a coffee table book - just for flipping through the photographs - it's gorgeous. As a travel guide, it has plenty of useful information with the downside that the book is very large and heavy to be carrying around or packing in a suitcase.

But as reading material, the text is mostly very boring. There is a little info on local history and culture (especially in the introductory chapter), but mainly it's just the same architectural details over and over. For instance, "the church's beautiful 16th-century painted reredos" 16 times (each for a different village), or "the medieval half-timbered houses on the main street" 27 times. (I'm just making up the numbers to give you an idea of what the book is like.) I took a star away for the boring text - otherwise the book would rate 5 stars.

The entire book has a strong emphasis on Medieval and Renaissance architecture, which gives even the lovely photographs a kind of sameness after you've been looking at them for awhile. I would like to have seen more variety in them, such as photos of traditional musical instruments, foods (there are a couple of these in the introduction, but that is all), traditional clothing, gardens, natural features, and interiors of homes. And especially, many more photos of the prehistoric monuments for which the region is famous (there are only one or two in the book.)

The photographer clearly went to considerable effort to avoid having any people in most of his pictures, but I think that having people in them would make them much livelier.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my wife to help us prepare for a trip to Brittany. I didn't know quite what to expect; would this be just another travel book with beautiful photos taken by professionals with high-end cameras? Would it set us up, or inform us? I am not interested in photos of places that I can never visit, because the photographs have been retouched or were taken on the penultimate day, at the exact moment when the scene was perfect. Most travel books have photos like that, and they are a waste of money to me because that beautiful mountain, lake, church, or winding road will not be what I see, even if I'm standing where the photographer stood.

Well, all such angst aside I'm happy to report that Brittany is as beautiful as the pictures in this book! We were, I am happy to report, informed about Brittany, not set up. We were made ready, our senses honed, our hearts opened to the right pitch. Brittany is as beautiful as these photos lead one to believe. Our hope was not in vain!

So I heartily recommend this book for travelers who are preparing to go to Brittany, and I commend the work that went into the book: my travel hat is off to Hugh Palmer and James Bentley. Good work, guys! Ok, your camera is better'n mine, but rather than using it to deceive me, you've used it to raise my consciousness. Thank you!
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