Pretty Towns & Villages

Dinan

Dinan port

Dinan is not on the sea; otherwise it offers every charm and attraction possible! Located on the Rance estuary, where Napoleon’s Canal d’Ille et Rance meets the sea, it is among the most attractive of France’s medieval towns.

With its impressive Chateau, it is encircled by rampart walls, within which its cobbled streets – one very steep, making an entertaining walk from town to the port – is filled with local craft workshops contained in the half-timbered houses and shops which make Dinan a delight for photographers.

Dinan portRestaurants abound in Dinan, both in the old town itself and in the port which is popular with visitors, many of whom come by sea. It has been said that it is quite impossible to buy a bad meal in Dinan! But that is true of most of Brittany.

The market is held on Thursday morning where you will find some fresh local produce (fruit, vegetables, fish, sea food, cheeses but also clothes, shoes, arts and crafts).

There is a flea market in July and August Wednesday afternoon.

Dinan holds a medieval festival every other year, the “Fête des Remparts”. The town is then transformed with medieval decoration and many locals dress up in medieval costumes. The next Fête des Remparts is in 2012 so plan your visit ahead!

Saint Malo

St Malo walled town

Saint Malo is the most famous sea resort on France’s Emerald Coast. The old town, completely encircled by splendid ramparts built by France’s Sun King, Louis 14th, is a busy, lively place packed with restaurants, bars and shops.

The town has much to offer. The walk around the walls provides unique views of the bay with its islands some of which, like the Fort Royal, are fortified and form part of France’s history both distant and recent.

The beaches are vast and lovely, and besides sunning themselves visitors may enjoy a wide range of water sports (sailing, sea kayaking, land sailing, windsurfing etc).

In the evening you may gamble a few euros at the Casino, find a souvenir in the arts and crafts market or try the local delicacies at a meal on a terrace or in one of the many restaurants. Here on the coast fish and sea food are widely available.

Finally, when all the delights of this wonderful town are exhausted – and that may take some time – it is a ten -minute ferry trip over the bay to Dinard, the smaller, quieter but lovely resort which first attracted British visitors to the Brittany coast in the 1830s.

Mont St-Michel

Situated in the middle of a bay, the medieval town of Mont Saint-Michel is a must! With its three and a half million visitors every year from all around the world, it is the most visited place in France.

The main street, cobbled, is filled with several museums, shops, cafés, and timber-framed houses dating from the 15th and 16th centuries.

You can walk round the ramparts from which you will have a view on the whole bay. The abbey, at the top of the mount, which presents a big panorama of the medieval architecture from the XIth to the XVIth century, can be visited.

The area has the highest tides in Europe, so if you have time to spare, observe the phenomenon of the rising tide, which is as fast as a galloping horse.

Be reassured, The Mont Saint Michel is always accessible as the causeway is never covered by water!

Rennes

Rennes Rennes is classified as a City of Art and History. The original heart of the city, around the cathedral, is marked by medieval influences: ancient ramparts with towers and gates and narrow streets and little squares with houses featuring half-timbering and overhanging storeys.

The present-day centre, is made of elegant large stone buildings all arranged around two royal squares, the Place du Parlement and the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville.

There is a magnificent park, The Parc Thabor, (formal French garden, orangerie, rose garden, aviary and play area for children).

Rennes market is held every Saturday morning and is the second biggest in France. Fresh produce can be bought straight from growers and producers. Fruit and vegetables, fish and shellfish, as well as meat, poultry, cheeses, jam, etc.

Dol de Bretagne

Dol de BretagneDol-de-Bretagne is another place that has preserved its rich architectural heritage. Standing proudly on what was once the edge of the bay of Mont-St-Michel from which it is today separated by lush marshland, you will find in Dol-de-Bretagne the oldest houses in Brittany, amongst them is the “Maison des Petits Palets”.

The main street is punctuated by squares and bordered by houses with porches and pillars. The fascinating 13th century cathedral (Cathedral of St Samson) is worth a visit. The market is held Saturday morning all year round.

Dol-de-Bretagne claims to have been the home of the Stewart family who became kings of Scotland and then (after Elisabeth 1st) kings of England, thus uniting the two kingdoms to become the United Kingdom.
The Hotel de Ville carries a memorial plaque reminding us that the arrival of General Patton’s army in Dol-de-Bretagne was an important event during the liberation of France in 1943.

Mont-Dol

Mont Dol One must not visit Dol-de-Bretagne without spending an hour on the Mont itself. This big hill, after which the town is named, stands between the sea and Dol-de-Bretagne and must of course once have been an island.

There are houses at its foot before a very steep hill climbs nearly to the summit. Be careful! This is to be taken only in a car with good brakes and in a very low gear because of a severe turn half-way up.

There are refreshment facilities, space for picnics and a play area for children. A tiny chapel and a wind-mill can be visited. A short walk takes visitors to the very top from where a really spectacular panorama on the Mont-St-Michel bay is seen.

Léhon

Lehon a pretty village close to our giteLocated in the picturesque valley of the river Rance, Léhon has preserved its historic and religious heritage. The attractions in Léhon are the monastery, the 9th century abbey, the remains of the 12th century château, the stone bridge and the beautiful stone houses with their moulded cornices and sculpted lintels. Léhon is a true gem!

Bécherel

Bécherel is a charming village, overlooking the upper valley of the river Rance. This historic fortified town is called the Book Town because there are 15 bookstores for around 660 inhabitants: second-hand dealer, gallery owner, sculptor, painter, photographer, bookbinder, calligrapher, illustrator, and, of course, booksellers, all welcome art lovers and collectors.

From the garden behind the church a very large panorama of the surrounding countryside may be viewed.

Combourg

The pretty lakeside village of Combourg is dominated by the Château de Combourg. It is privately-owned, and it is listed as a Historical Monument.

The town is the chief centre for supermarket shopping in this part of Ile-et-Villaine, and the Monday morning market, too, is well worth a visit.

Jugon-les-Lacs

A small town set between two wooded ridges, protected by two lakes created in the 13th century.