Made in Brittany


As some of you know I was born in Brittany. I really love this region even if I’m not that often there, not enough according to my family and friends. Anyway through posts from relatives and my visits there I always notice a large scale of creativity among its inhabitants. And I’d like to share with you some examples of new or existing brands.

Hoalen Salt Water

I first discover this brand with my brother in law, Laurent. He lives in Brest in Brittany with my sister and 3 beautiful children. They go as often as they can to the beach, go surfing or sailing. They also like the salt water sensation on their skin as I do. And Hoalen means “sea salt” in the old Breton language.

Concerning the logo of Hoalen my first association was much more with the canabis plant that something else (may be I’ve been living since too long in the Netherlands!). No the six fingered seaweed, that they drew and designed, lying under water, is for them a strong symbol of the traditional culture from this region of seaweed gatherers that we French call “goémoniers”.

And Hoalen is not only a sportwear brand for women, men en kids. Beyond establishing their clothing brand, they have always strived to be a key player in the development of swell sports, through the organization or sponsoring of unique sporting events.

What I like:

  • Confort
  • Design and Style
  • Website, Photographies and Music
  • Events they organise and/or sponsor
  • Remembers me a little bite  SuperDry. But hey hey Hoalen is from Brittany.

What I don’t like that much:

  • I can not find the brand in the Netherlands till now
  • Production is not made in Brittany. They say on their website ‘In the future we will produce locally in Brittany, but up until now we have been working closely with the same small factory in the south of India. For polyester, nylon and wool, we have developed specific partnerships in China and Bulgaria.’
  • They never respond to your post on social media :-( Hope they will soon change it.


La Belle Iloise

Petit apéro des amisWhen we go back to Brittany we always stop in one of the Belle Iloise shop or when my parents come to visit us in the Netherlands they often bring some cans with them. But what can you find in these little for some of them vintage cans? Sardines. Yes you read properly.

And we especially love the Sardines à Poêler au Beurre Salé. These are intended to be heated up in a pan after the can has been set in warm water or directly in the pan to melt the butter, then eaten with fresh salad  and  potatoes. It’s the perfect way to make a quick lunch or diner or fill a galette with rucola. But be carefull you’ll certainly not resist to sopped the sardine-flavored butter all up with your bread. And you’ll certainly wish you even had more.

And for our friends in the Netherlands we always bring  the present boxes like Petit Apéro des Amis or Le temps des Soupes or the Salad Set. Different small boxes with makrell, sardines, tuna, etc rillettes or creams or fish soups. Toujours un succès, ils en redemandent.

What I like:

  • the taste and quality
  • the packaging
  • the originality
  • the authenticity mixed with modernity
  • the 3 generations family company
  • made in Brittany
  • you can visit the conservatory. It will take you about 45 minutes

What I don’t like that much:

  • Still can find them in the Netherlands
  • The price level, but it’s very good quality and it’s a local product
  • Only a French website


Kaerilis Whiskey

2 years ago we were for the 1st time on Belle Ile en Mer, a beautiful island (it’s also her name well deserved), that I will recommand to anyone. We stayed at Hotel La Desirade, a Relais du Silence Hotel, situated in the middle of Belle Ile, so perfect to discover the island. We hired our bikes at the hotel and decided after 2 or 3 days to discover the main village of Belle Ile Le Palais, the castle and go for some shopping. At the end of the afternoon we ended up in a small street and discovered a Whiskey Shop. As whiskey lovers we decided to have a look in the shop of Mister Fabien Mueller, founder of this brand. We’ve got the opportunity to taste his whiskeys, and not only one sort … we finally closed  the shop with him :-) The way back to the hotel on our bike with some excellent whisky in our legs and hard wind, was a nice and really funny ride.

The Kaerilis whiskeys are distilled according to Celtic tradition in the Highlands in Scotland. They spent many years there in oak barrels before finishing their maturity in cellars in Belle-Ile en Mer. The whiskeys are refined and packaged exclusively on Belle Ile, where the exceptional climatic conditions give a special iodine, balanced and rounded taste in the mouth to the Kaerilis whiskeys. The Single Malt Belle Ile proposed by Kaerilis barrels come from unique and do not undergo filtration or cold or artificial coloring. Each bottle is numbered, contributing a little more to the ‘catactère unique’ precious and rare in our whiskey.

What I like about the Kaerilis wiskey:

  • the design of the bottles. The wax on the bottle cap, handwritting, soft colors. Really nice to look at and to have.
  • the name of the different whiskeys : A l’Aube de la St Jean, Le Grand dérangement, Belle Ile en Rêve, Belle Ile en Neige, Rêve d’Azur, Une Etoile en mer.
  • the different bottle formats
  • the originality and authenticity
  • a passionate
  • the explanations
  • nice for presents

What I don’t like that much:

  • not a 100% Brittany product but it will come soon according to the owner.
  • our stock is empty, we’ve to buy some online or go back to Belle Ile.

What I like about the Hotel La Desirade:

  • the quality of the the service, the warmth of the welcome
  • being completed pampered, spoiled. The feeling of being in another time and finding a real antidote to stress, this is the promise the owners and their team
  • cosy and spacious bedrooms in several typical Belle-Ile style cottages set in large gardens around the heated swimming pool
  • the restaurant: great gastronomic food, with the talented chef serving fresh local food and lot of fish products
  • the spa and massages on the back side of the hotel


Les Gavottes – Crepes Dentelles

Every time we return to Brittany or anywhere else in France, it’s a kind of ritual, we go to the supermarket and buy a large range of Gavottes Loc Maria. Gavotte is not only a traditionnal Breton dance, it’s also a sensationnal biscuit. And right now with my coffee I would grandly appreciate one, but they are all gone …. our friends and dutch neighbours also love them. Time to be back to Brittany because I can not find them in the Netherlands.

But what is so special with this biscuit ? It’s crispy, very crispy, it’s light (seems light), it tastes like sunny butter held together with just enough flour to keep the cookies from breaking apart, then caramelized. It’s simply delicious. Most of the time I put some on our guest table and serve them with a small dark coffee. The reaction of the guests is as follow : you take first one of this gold-foiled packets, you unwrappe one and then you try one of the 2 rolled-up biscuits in the packet … and do you hear something ? No only some ‘hum’ , ‘lekker’, …. and in a few seconds the second biscuit is eaten and your guests are looking at the box if they could have some more. And don’t worry if your guests are trying to catch the last buttery-brown crumbs near their cup of coffee with the tip of their fingers, it belongs to it!

The Bretonse cookies were invented in 1893 when a woman was making crêpes and forgot about them on the griddle. So she rolled them up and let them cool, which were the base for the cookies that I, my husband and daughter, friends and many others love today. Since this date, the company is always in a renewable process. So for example you can find some Gavottes au Chocolat [noir, au lait], Praline, Caramel [double effect].

In between I’ve learned how to make some homemade Crêpes Dentelles based on classical crêpes, and I can tell you it’s quite a lot of work, you see that it’s not really light. But the main reward is to see that the box goes also really quickly empty.

What I like:

  • the taste
  • the classical packaging
  • the tradition of the company
  • the constant quality
  • the innovation

What I don’t like that much

  • they are eaten so quick
  • I can not find them in the Netherlands.
  • the new range of cookies “Bon naturellement”. Does that mean that the other are not natural ?


Aquashell – living on water

I discovered this brand at the camping Atlantica fair in October in La Rochelle. Rototec is originally specialized in rotational molding of technical parts for agricultural supplies, boating, street furniture. The CEO of Rototec decided to innovate and think outside the box to create new products and expand.

He took part at the IDDIL(Innovation and Sustainable Design for Industry and Leisure) which aim is to diversify the tourism offer in Brittany and met designers, other manufacturers and tourism professionals. A new concept was quickly borned, floating habitat, mainly designed by Owen Poho and based on the drawing of lobster traps that you can find in Brittany. The project involves also the expertise and support of local companies ROTOTEC, Europlacage, TWHB and Ulmo.

The Castel Camping Ty Nadan, also partner of this project, will be the first camping to host this innovative holiday floating homes. And I wish that more campings will be as excited as me to try out this new glamping accomodation.

More information about Aquashell and their products:

La Cabane en l’Air – living in a tree

The Domaine des Ormes, again a Castel Campsite, was the first in 2004 to offer treehouse rental to tourists. It was the idea of Arnaud de La Chesnais, certainly a children dream for him first and also for his children as well as future clients and partners.

Nowadays, this unique and environmentally friendly accomodation has expanded and is now a trademark ‘La Cabane en l’Air’ with a large network. You can find 36 campsites in France with this kind of treehouses. With more than 200 copies it´s now a reference in marketing, sales and construction of tree huts.

More information about La Cabane en l’Air:

Louisiane – living in a mobil-home

I should admit spending holidays in a mobil-home is not my favorite accomodation type, but I also have to admit the products that the Louisiane company offers are really competitive and innovative. The latest one is the ‘Rolls of the camping’ as the French press call it. I can imagine to buy such a Taos mobil home and put one or two units in a field in front of the seaside. Modern, less expensive than a second home, that would be perfect. But unfortunately it’s not legal in France, not on a private property, only on campsite.

The original company was also a manufacturer for agricultural structures and with the time it decided to change its core business, in order to survive, and begun to build mobil-homes in Loudéac, in the center of Brittany. Now it’s one of the leaders of the mobil-home industry in Europe and is part of the Finadorm group. Unfortunately I just read today in the press that 37 jobs will be cut in Loudéac in the coming days. But I’m sure so as in the past, the company will be innovative enough to remain competitive and to grow again.

I recommand this article about the history of Louisiane. And for more information about the company please consult the site

Empreinte – Clever combination of innovation and tradition

‘Brands are not born powerful. They grow in time’ has been the motto behind ‘Empreinte‘ designs since 1946. How could I have missed this brand ? Too long in the Netherlands ? Or too much under the influence of Marlies Dekkers, my favorite luxury and modern lingerie, a dutch brand, the only one I wear … till now.

Okay I was not borned when Jean Le Her designed the first collection in 1946 in Brest, Brittany and where 65 years later the bras are still created. But I have familly in Brest, and nobody talk about it. So I have 2 resolutions for the next time I go to France : visit the workshops in Brest and try the new concept-store in Paris … Oh no I have a 3rd one : try the new collection of course. And another resolution if I like the collection : finding or creating some selling points in the Netherlands because till now there seem to be no shops here according to the map on the Empreinte website.

Empreinte designs and creates lingerie for women with generous bra size. And I can tell you wearing the right bra can completely change your look. Empreinte seems to use only luxury material, give the feeling a second skin and of confort. Lots of models are may be too romantic to mu taste, but some few as the Dreamcurves Collection could compete the M|D collection. I really have to try it.

But what retain also my attention is the new concept store that opened this year in the polish districs of Paris, near Place Vendôme.  A clever and perfect combination of innovation and tradition : L’Atelier Lingerie is like no other lingerie shop I know. I already loved the one of M|D in Amsterdam in the 9 straatjes district, but I think that I will be fascinated by L’Atelier.

I like the idea of the Gallery in the shop, an exhibition of all designs like in an art gallery, an avant-garde vision in the way Empreinte showcases its collection. The cabins also called salons seem also to be spacious and confortable.

And what impress me above all is the digital style coach, a designer style touch table to personalise your own lingerie set. I guess you can share it online too. If not they should make it! L’Atelier a kind of Apple store. In Brest they certainly had an eye on the other side of the Atlantic.

On the top of this you can also customise your lingerie set by adding your personal touch with extra accessoires or simply by embroidering a word, date, initial, message. Be creative ! I will be I promise :)

And because Empreinte seems to value tradition and quality, the Atelier has also his own workshop where you will be these fine ‘little hands’ giving the final touch to your set.

5 Rue de l’Eau Blanche  29200 Brest, Frankrijk
Phone: +33 (0)2 98 02 33 39
13 rue Saint Florentin 75008 Paris, Frankrijk
Phone: +33 (0) 1 42 61 71 78
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 10:30am/7pm

Interesting article to read: