You might ask yourself why a tourist office would have much relevance when everything you need to know about a place is available online. I would tend to agree with you, I had not previously found a ton of use in them, but Brittany, France has some amazing tourist offices. So many and so good, in fact, that we now begin our visits to a new town or area by stopping here first.
We do our preliminary research online, of course, but have found the maps and information available at the Office de Tourisme to be helpful, especially during the low winter season when things seem to be closed or have very shortened hours.
6 Reasons to Use Tourist Offices
- Maps - While our mobile coverage has been just fine in Brittany, nothing can replace the tangible joy of a map. We've found very local maps where the city is highlighted to those that highlight the region more broadly. It's been so helpful to have multiple maps when planning. We can make notes and cross reference with distances in Google in order to maximize our time. Granted, some of them are cheesy and commercial, but most maps are very helpful.
- Markets - We've found the people who work in the offices to be quite helpful in telling us about the days for local markets. I have had some success with finding this information online, but it's always nice to have confirmation.
- Walks - We've been told about some good walks throughout the various areas of Brittany. Again, I have a vague idea of the existence of walks from my internet research but, these have proven a bit fruitless in reality. The walk information provided by the tourist office has been much more reliable and usually accompanied by a map.
- What's On - While there hasn't been too much going on in Brittany (events wise) we've had some luck with being told about where to find Christmas markets or just other interesting things like visiting the town of Locronan during the holiday season to see the lights.
- Toilets - I know, this may seem like a stretch, but we've been able to use the toilet at each tourist office we've been to. They aren't necessarily the best we've been to, but so far we can count on one being there. And after a drive, it's needed.
- People - The people we've found working in the local tourist offices are actually eager to help you. They are literally sitting there waiting to be asked questions about their town or village. They generally live in the area and are expert in it. They can tell you the latest happenings whereas a website can be ignored for months.
So next time you are out and about in a foreign or maybe not so foreign land, give the tourist office a chance. You might just find something that will take you off your original path.