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Roscoff France

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Roscoff (Rosko to the Bretons) is further west than Perros Guirec, and it is the southernmost cross channel ferry port, with links to Plymouth and Cork. It is protected from harsh seas by the Ile de Batz just offshore, and the town is made up of 16th century granite houses that are clustered around a small bay, making Roscoff a much more attractive place to arrive than some of the other ferry ports on this coast.

The deep water port at Roscoff was opened in 1973 in an effort to regenerate some trade links between Brittany and Ireland, and southwest England, and also to boost the local economy. It had always been an important port in its own right, however, and saw people such as Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie land here.

The fishing and pleasure port and the rue Gambetta are at the heart of Roscoff town, the roads leading away from the old port all being primarily residential. There are restaurants in place de la République just to the west of the quai d'Auxerre, and the rue Amiral Réveilère, a continuation of rue Gambetta, leads northwest to the place Lacaze Duthiers where the Église Notre Dame de Kroaz Batz is situated. This 16th century church has a Renaissance belfry and nautical themed sculptures, and rows of bells like a tiered cake.

The best beach in Roscoff is at Laber, a kilometre further on from the Thalassotherapy Institute, where sea water is used along with algae as a health treatment. The expensive hotels and restaurants are concentrated around this beach, but the old harbour has more ambience and you can get boat trips to the Ile de Batz (pronounced Ba) from here. It is also in Roscoff that the traditional image of French men in black berets, complete with strings of onions, was born. Henri Ollivier took onions from Roscoff to England in 1828 and until the 1930s 'Johnnies' (French farmers) would load up their boats with local produce and sail to England, where they delivered to local markets on their bicycles.

The tourist office is at 46 rue Gambetta (02 98 61 12 13) in an attractive stone building north of the place de la République. Hotels in Roscoff are plentiful, with late night arrivals expected due to the ferries. There are a couple of good hotels on the rue Amiral Réveillère in the old town: try the Hotel Restaurant des Arcades at number 15 (02 98 69 70 45) which has rooms from €30 40, or the Les Chardons Bleus at number 4 (02 98 69 72 03) with a good restaurant and rooms from €40 55. Eating in the hotel dining rooms is a good option, as long as you arrive before 9pm, otherwise there are pizzerias, creperies and seafood outlets dotted about.