Oysters, fish, blue lobsters, shrimp and other crustaceous: seafood in Brittany is truly one-of-a-kind. We followed a few Bretons—a fishmonger, a restaurateur and an oyster farmer—who explained the art of living with a backdrop of breathtaking landscapes in the coast of Brittany. Join us for an invigorating, gourmand experience.
From Concarneau to Riec-sur-Belon, passing through Le Guilvinec, we set on a journey through Brittany, following the steps of these men living for, and because of, the sea.
The men are François Gallen, fishmonger, Mickaël Rigous, chef of the restaurant Le Chantier in Concarneau and Jean-Jacques Cadoret, oyster farmer in Riec-sur-Belon—the three unveil the art of living surrounded by the typical seafood of Brittany.
François Gallen, a fishmonger, loves this ever-changing sea that offers such a wide range of wild products for the fishermen on the coast. He explains that, undoubtedly, the Bretons show "great respect for nature" that surrounds them.
A restaurant like a boat floating on the sea.
Mickaël Rigous, the chef of Le Chantier in Concarneau, is in awe every day.
"I am under the impression that my cuisine floats on the sea and we are like a boat. Seeing the fish as they arrive, the shrimp coming out of the ship, the unloading of the day's catch, and then placing them on my dishes immediately afterwards, it's exhilarating. The restaurant where I work now is the place where my grandfather used to unload the fish 30 years ago."
The exceptional quality and freshness of the products is such that the chef makes a plea for simplicity.
"When right next to the water, what is most interesting is to eat the seafood as plain as possible. What I love, for example, is a scallop carpaccio, and some hearty shrimp cooked very simply, with bread and butter. This is just amazing!" Rigous testifies.
For Jean-Jacques Cadoret, oyster farmer in Riec-sur-Bélon, he believes that seafood country has a lot in common with wine country.
"Oysters are a bit like wine, of course one must have a certain know-how to produce them, but even more important is their origin. The Bélon river blends with the ocean, creating a mix of salt and fresh water, and the water goes up and down depending on the tide. The soil quality is very different, resulting in a product that will fatten and become a bit milder, with a completely different taste."
The result of this know-how, passed down through five generations of the Cadoret family: the famous "Bélon" oysters that seafood lovers go crazy for.
Oysters served plain or seasoned with lemon and shallots
"We usually taste oysters plain, or with a bit of pepper if desired. Adding lemon or shallots is not necessarily bad, but if you taste three or four different kinds you will not appreciate the fineness of each individual one. There will always be split opinions on the matter, with a preference for a plumper one, a milder one or a more salty oyster; this always makes for an interesting exchange."
Everyone follows the rhythm of the ocean and the tide, from the moment the boats unload the catch with a loud announcement. "
It is truly the fisherman who dictates the menu, we actually adapt to whatever they catch" claims Rigous.
This all takes place where the ocean meets land in France, where the weather changes all the time, offering remarkable games of light and color. The rain, the sunshine, the fishermen, the singing of the seagulls and the sea, all fully reflect the nature and the wildness of Brittany.