Peter 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 email@example.com. I'll be delighted to help.
I 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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
It 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
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
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
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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. Beautiful varied landscapes
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)
We recently had a lovely family with two young children stay at the Petit Longere gite, our two bedroom holiday cottage near Huelgoat in Brittany.
They were kind enough to leave a wonderful review of their holiday in central Finistere which you can read below. See why you need to bring the kids for a holiday at Ty Hir in beautiful Brittany!
"We had a lovely time staying in the Petit Longere, it is not so petite the living room is spacious, the kitchen has everything you will need, the bedrooms are also quite large as is the bathroom and utility room. The property is full of character and in a lovely location, there are stunning views out of the bedroom window when you get up in the morning. A very peaceful location the main noises you will hear are cows, sheep, cats meowing and birds singing.
Both the front and the back of the house have plenty of garden furniture, great for alfresco dining, reading a book or lying in the sun and enjoying the peaceful surroundings. Our children had a great time playing in the large garden, paddling in the paddling pools, playing football with the football goals that are provided. In the evening we sat around the Chiminea (outdoor fire) keeping warm and drinking local cider, beer or wine, one evening toasting marshmallows.
The book shelves are stocked with books both for adults and children as well as DVD's. If you want to eat out there a plenty of places to try in Huelgoat and the surrounding towns if you like seafood a trip to Roscoff is worth it just for the lunch. There are also supermarkets close by to stock up with provisions as well as other amenities. The location is great, close to Huelgoat with its Gigantic boulders. A river to walk to from the Petit Longere a great place for a paddle on a hot day. There are so many other places to visit in the area that we didn't have time in a week to do everything we wanted to so we will definitely be coming back to the Petit Longere in the future for another visit. "
You can see the original review on our French Connections advert here: Petit Longere Guestbook.