Things To Do In Dinan
Dinan is a walled Breton Town and a commune in north-western France. With an exceptional geographical setting, this town is settled on a hill side instead of the plains. Alongside the river Rance, is the famous port of Dinan and is connected to the town via the Rue de Petit Fort. Moderately turbid, this river has brownish water and is somewhat slow in its speed due to the slight gradient of the course that the river follows. For many years, The Bridge over the River Rance was the northernmost crossing over the river but now the Tidal power station at the mouth of the estuary includes a 750 meters long tidal barrage which doubles as a crossing point near the sea. Undoubtedly, Dinan is the most beautiful town in the history of the medieval history and definitely worth a visit. There is a 13th century castle and the ramparts around it are even more mesmerizing. You would be engrossed in the beauty of the place when you wander through the cobbled streets lines with half-timber houses and discover Dinan at your leisure. The Flamboyant Gothic Saint Malo Church, the basilica of Saint Saveur and the 40 , high Tour de l’ Harloge are the main crowded areas here. This is a walled city and the remains are still very clear.
You can go ahead and climb the 158 steps to have the highest view of the place. The sheer symmetry and the beauty of this place will have you panting for more. Completely in sync with its surroundings, Dinan is as warm as its people. The ramparts are almost around 2.7 kms in length and there is no better way to explore Dinan but walk on foot. Every year in July, the ‘Fete des Remparts’ is held. This is a marvelous festival which recreates the life of the medieval times in this age. A market place is set up and beauty takes over this ancient town. The advantage is the uphill and downhill setting of the town which makes it different and special just by the turns and the curves. People come to this festival dressed in medieval costumes and try living the earlier life for a day. Considered to be one of the most interactive and fun loving fete of France, this festival is amazing. Dinan is known to be the prettiest spot in Brittany and the sheer elegance of the medieval architecture will make you want to come to this place again and again.
When To Go:
Dinan is an outdoor place. You do not go to Dinan to stay cooped up in a hotel. You go to Dinan to take long walks and explore the town. The blue skies are clear most of the year and the port nearby a bustling tourist attraction. This place can be best explored between February till November every year. Also not to miss the festival in July, plan your trip to this ancient town and make it memorable for your life. Having a sea shore nearby there is not much of a difference between the day and the night temperatures and over all the weather does not belong to the extreme category.
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These are the things to do in the city of Dinan…
The Port and Rance River
There is a small port in Dinan which stretches along the river Rance. A huge stretch of nice old houses and many lovely places to eat line the area of the port and the Rance River. You would find a huge collection of restaurants and eating joints which serve the best cuisines in the country and are warm and hospitable to the guests. Tourism is a major industry here and all care is taken to make your trip a memorable one. While you are down there, you can have a good view of the area. The hall and the two bridges are a major tourist attraction and have been maintained thoroughly. The older bridge is a sight to see with the bold marking s of medieval architecture etched on it. The new Bridge is relatively newer in comparison and has the modern structuring in place. There is also a tow path along the river.
This is one of the best nature sight-seeing spots in this place. If interested you can also rent small boats and go for short boat tours depending upon the leveraging of your time. The best is to rent a house boat from this place and then live in it for the duration of your stay at Dinan. The smaller base of the Boats is called the “le Boat” which is actually a small cozy hut. From here you can go to the main base in Messac in one week. A lit bit ahead and you would reach the Chatelier Lock. This is where the Maritime section of the river starts. Here the river is widened and then merges with the sea at Saint Malo or Dinard. The speed of the river is greatly reduced here and officially this place is called the Canal d’llle –et-Rance which was built to connect the Saint Malo with Rennes. This is one spot of nature in its perfection and is an amazing spot to capture photographs. So pull out your camera and get started. You do not find the screeching noise of the ports here. Though the area is a port, the commercial activity is very limited and it contributes to the attraction you would have for this place.
Au the Gourmand
This popular Café in Dinan is known for its service. The cakes at this place are a specialty and you would get a huge chunk for each serving. The scallops are equally tasty and you would love them if this is the kind of food that you like. While you may want to sip a beer and have fun, people say that the Coffee here is equally tasty and can replace it. Imagine coffee replacing beer! The welcome is warm and with excellent and great service. This place is highly recommended. Many people have taken a fancy to the Camembert starter served here. The atmosphere relaxes you and all you want to do here is treat yourself and your family to some awesome food. Let’s not forget Chocolate.
This is the best chocolate that you may have ever tasted. Make sure you pack loads for your family back home. This is one thing you would surely miss when you get back home. Though France and Chocolates are synchronous with each other, the chocolate here has some secret ingredient that makes it the best. Here at the Au the Gourmand, the food is presented in a special way making the presentation increase your appetite. And because most of it is prepared with fresh ingredients you can actually feel the aroma of the food when you relish it. The selection of tarts, pies and Quiches is awesome and equally tasty are the sweets and savory along with the English Scones. The pricing is just perfect and that is why you would want to come here again and again and make your life a treat of sumptuous food presented royally.
Chateau de Dinan
This is more of a magnificent castle and a museum to see while you are visiting Dinan. This museum relates to the logic of superposition of the various rooms and chambers in the Chateau. While the lower reaches of the castle were for the commoners, the rooms and areas of the higher parts were reserved for the elite and the important. There is also a private Chapel in Chateau De Dinan which is linked to one of the superior rooms and was owned by a family in Dinan until the 13th century when the Dukes seized Dinan.
With 2.4 kms of ramparts lining the castle, this was the perfect defense mechanism to stay safe inside it. From the top of the Chateau you can get an excellent view of the entire town. This place is the perfect preserved history of the medieval times with all the arts and facts stored safely inside. The building is in good shape. Dinan thrives on tourism so the places of archeological and historical interest have been kept very finely and one look at these monuments will make you go back in history.
Le Petit Train De Dinan
There is no better way to see this beautiful city but to hop on the Le Petit Train de Dinan and enjoy your ride. This train crosses everything that you would want to see when you are here. Crossing through the major tourist attractions, this train is comfortable, clean and convenient. Le Petit Train De Dinan takes you through the town. If you have a cloudy sky above you, nothing can seem as beautiful as Dinan when you are enjoying the train ride. This train is highly recommended for an introductory round of Dinan.
The excellent commentary and that too in English acquaints you with the town and you know what stands for the historical spots. Another major advantage is that it takes you down a big steep hill and can transport you to the port also. So you can actually save yourself from the up-climb and the down-climb and not tire yourself out. The commentary in English is detailed and the town is best seen on this train. There are certain areas of the town which you would not come to know of as a tourist. But this train takes you everywhere.
Eglise Saint Malo
This place is a brilliant example of Gothic Architecture and the Church was built in the 15th century. You have to check this place out to admire the beauty of its construction and wonderful stained glass windows. Early spring here is just heaven with the glass windows getting covered in pretty little magnolias making the entire setting very scenic and pristine. The church has two organs, one of the Grand Orgue, d’ Alfred Oldknow which was built in 1889. The maroon wood sculpture lines the transept.
The second one is the Polish Pianist Henri Kowalski, which is in the choir and is in the Chapel which is to the left of the altar. While many of the statues were destroyed in the French revolution, there is still a treasure to see inside. The octagonal Font which is carved in the fifteenth century Carved Granite is a Masterpiece. There is also a chair made of wood from the Dominicans which is the major highlight of the area. There have been many additions to the church as well. For example, the High altar due to Herault Rennes is a beautiful piece of furniture which is surely to be seen. Then the statue of Saint Malo is very eye catching. You somehow seem to be drawn to it. Finally the altar of archcofraternity due to Le merrer are some of the rare treasures that you can find here at Eglise Saint Malo.
The main attraction of the city has always been the roots and the past. The best way to connect with a city is to find its roots. The most preserved ones are the “Rue due Jerzual” and the “Rue du Petit Fort”. This road connects the port to the city. It is probably the oldest road that is here. It is a bit steep but the perfectly clobbered paths are delight to be traversed. There are many timbered houses that are still the same way as they used to be. Today these houses are lovely eating joints and galleries and craft shops. The compactness of the city will leave you amazed. The coffee shops perfectly blend with the atmosphere and a small stroll around his area will leave you relaxed and peaceful.
There is also a marvelous church which you can enter to see another level of serenity. There is no major tourist overload here and you can literally have the complete area to yourself during the visit to the Center Historique. Try some crepes here. They are supposed to be really good. You can even safely experiment with some seafood and relish the meals. There are many fairs that are held here throughout the year. All the fun fairs have their own themes and is it awesome to watch the locals participate in them. Completely decked up and beautified, the locals add life to the fairs and you would not be able to stop yourself from participating in them too.
Tour de l Horloge
A clock tower stands 40 m tall and has been constructed in the medieval ages. This clock tower is almost the symbol of Dinan. Everyone who comes to visit Dinan has to come here once. Open throughout the week, the clock tower has a big watch also which is functional. Have the game to rush to the top of it and you would be able to see the entire town from above.
If the weather permits and the skies are clear enough, you can also see the Mont St Micheal from here. The traces of the ancient area are so clearly seen in this building and also in the areas surrounding it. The timber wood used or construction has been maintained well enough and you do not find the Tour de l Horloge in a bad shape. Not to disappoint there are many stalls and small shops around this area which sell local goods which you carry as souvenirs back home.
Vadette Jaman IV
If being on a cruise has been our dream for long, this is what you should hop onto. This one hour cruise is just what you want to experience in this beautiful town. Start the tour at the port and traverse all the way through the river. The Vadette Jaman IV is a traveler’s paradise. After the port of Dinan the next pass over is the Lehon Village. It is such a relief to watch the country side while you laze around on the cruise! There is lots of information which is given in French and English both. The cruise is not just a place to sit and while away time. The staff of this cruise make sure that you participate in all the activities here and make you sing and dance and see to it that by the end of the trip you are pretty exhausted from all the fun and frolic that you have been making for the past one hour. You may also take the one way cruise tour where in you would be dropped mid-way. If you have some lovely company this is probably what you would want to do. Come off the cruise and walk back on the lovely roads and alleys with the one you love.
Dinan has not been affected much by the modernization and the pollution of the human life. This is why this place is almost just like the way it used to be. There are many places in France to visit with each famous for its own specialty. While Paris is where you should be if you are a romantic at heart, Troyes will have you addicted to its wines and champagne. Go to Grasse and transform your life into flowers and essences. Dinan and its clobbered walkways will leave you mesmerized. Add to it the simple, beautiful old structures and the quiet of the place engulfs you. A visit to this place is a must in one life time. Though it is guaranteed that if you visit this place once, you would be going there again and again!
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