Bree is a fictional village in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, east of the Shire and south of Fornost Erain. Directly west of Bree are the Barrow-downs and the Old Forest. Bree is the chief village of Breeland, a small wooded region near the intersection of the main north_south and east_west routes through Eriador. Breeland is the only part of Middle-earth where Men and hobbits dwell side by side.
The name Bree means hill, according to Tolkien, referring to the fact that the village of Bree and the surrounding Breelands are centered around a large hill. There are three villages in Breeland in addition to Bree proper.
- Staddle is populated primarily by hobbits who make a living from light agriculture, of pipeweed, primarily. Staddle is on the south_eastern side of Breehill, sitting south of Combe and Archet. It is the only of the villages (other than Bree itself) visible from the Great East Road.
- Combe is populated primarily by Men, with some hobbits, all of whom make a living from agriculture. Combe is situated on the borders of the Chetwood and on the edge of Breehill, between the villages of Archet and Staddle.
- Archet is the furthest north. Located in the Chetwood, it is populated primarily by Men.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins met Strider (Aragorn) at the largest inn in Bree, The Prancing Pony, owned by Barliman Butterbur. Later on in Fellowship, some of the Ringwraiths attempted to kill the hobbits, but Strider anticipated them, and the hobbits were in his room instead of their own when the Black Riders struck. The hobbits also returned to Bree near the end of the story, on their way home.
Bree is also the place where, earlier, seemingly by accident, Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield met. They were both thinking about the same problem: the Dragon Smaug at the Lonely Mountain. The meeting led to the undertaking of the Quest of Erebor, which resulted in the death of Smaug and the finding of the One Ring by Bilbo Baggins. If Smaug had lived until the War of the Ring, he would have posed a serious threat.
In Peter Jackson's movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and his companions arrive at Bree almost immediately after the scene in which they leave the Shire, giving the impression (perhaps unintentionally) that the two are much closer together than described by Tolkien.