A great advantage of moving from the UK to the north of France is the quick and easy journey between the two. All it takes is a simple ferry ride with Brittany Ferries, which operates regularly across the Channel from all the following towns. Not only are the towns stunning and rich in culture, they are also all located within an hour from a ferry port, meaning that you will never be far from your loved ones back home.
Roscoff: seaweed, scallops and salt scrubs
Roscoff is a beautiful fishing village located in the north of Brittany. Its granite buildings date back to the 16th century, reflecting the town’s rich history, as does the gorgeous Notre Dame de Croaz Batz. What makes the town really stand out, however, is its famous thalassotherapy treatments, using seaweed and other natural products fresh from the sea to leave locals and expats relaxed and rejuvenated.
Those with a passion for food will not be disappointed by Roscoff. It is famous for its seafood dishes such as cotriade (a traditional Breton fish stew) and moules marinieres, as well as for its creperies, selling traditional Breton crepes and galettes. And for anyone with an interest in the history of food there is La Maison des Johnnies et de l’Oignon, a museum recounting the story of French onion sellers and their journey to Great Britain.
Huelgoat: a tranquil escape to the heart of the forest
Located within Le Parc Naturel Régional d’Armorique, Huelgoat is a town of immense natural beauty and tranquility in the northwest of Brittany. Anyone looking to move away from the hustle and bustle of noisy city life will find this to be the perfect destination.
La Forêt de Huelgoat has an almost magical feel to it, with its huge boulders, moss-covered trees and streams running past the footpaths. There is also Les Arbres du Monde au Huelgoat, a gorgeous arboretum with views over the whole countryside, and Le Port du Lac. The town is located only an hour’s drive from Roscoff, a gorgeous town in itself and a famous ferry port.
Cherbourg: live life by the sea
Did you know that Cherbourg was one of the first places visited by the Titanic? Its history can be explored in La Cité de la Mer, a maritime theme park home also to La Musée de la Libération and La Redoutable, the world’s largest submarine. The town also boasts a lot of natural beauty. The striking cliffs and sandy beaches of the Contentin Peninsula form a gorgeous coastline, whilst the Saire Valley offers a scenic, grassy route perfect for long walks.
For anyone who loves the combination of old and new, this is the ideal town. You can wander through the fresh fish market of La Vieille Ville or the larger markets of La Place du Général-de-Gaulle to buy local produce, before heading to Les Éléis: a large, modern shopping centre home to international and national labels.
Beuvron-en-Auge: a stop on the cider route
Thirty minutes from Caen, Beuvron-en-Auge is one of the prettiest towns in the Pays d’Auge. The buildings in the town date back to the 17th century and are almost all built in the half-timber style typical of Normandy. Many of the houses lie on one main street and have been converted into shops selling local produce, antique stores and artists’ workshops.
Beuvron-en-Auge is part of the Normandy Cider Route and is renowned for its locally-produced cider and calvados. It is also famed for its floral displays, hosting flower festival every year in May as well as a large cider festival in October, neither of which are to be missed.
Dinan: the town of art and history
Dinan is a tiny, picturesque town less than an hour’s drive from the ferry port of St-Malo. The river Rance flows through the town, with canal boats dotted along the bank and a pathway running all the way along, perfect for an afternoon stroll.
With its timber-framed houses, winding, cobble streets and a surrounding city wall (dating back to the 13th century), Dinan is a hilltop town preserved in the medieval era and an ideal location for any history buff.
Visits to the Saint-Malo church, Saint Sauveur basilica and the Château (castle), among many other sites, make it clear just how much of the past can still be found in Dinan. It has been named a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History) and is home to many artists, sculptors, bookbinders and glassblowers.
Your new home just across the Channel
So whether you want to spend your days sipping local cider or sailing along the French coast, the north of France is the perfect destination for any British expat. Its idyllic country and seaside towns give newcomers the opportunity to discover everything that France has to offer, without the hustle and bustle typical of large cities. All of this with just a short trip across the Channel: what could be more ideal?