Dinan, so much more than just a mediaeval town…
Ranked second in the fifty most photographed towns in France (and those aren’t my words, see linternaute.com), Dinan is encircled by its 2.7-kilometre-long ramparts – the longest in Brittany. Wander through its narrow streets and learn all about timber framing. The town is home to no fewer than 130 half-timbered houses. Close your eyes during your visit and be transported back to the time of mediaeval music, knights, cobblestones and charming alleyways.
Oh and I forget to mention, you can also dress up in Dinan… every two years for the Fête des Remparts festival.
So much more? Yes, Dinan also features a number of 18th-century mansions.
Meet Bertrand Duguesclin standing in his square and then spin right around to admire the houses surrounding you. Maybe you’ll meet some of the Dinan bourgeoisie? Light is a significant feature for these buildings and also for the town of Dinan itself. Why? Because you’ll never feel hemmed in in this town, which opens out onto the river Rance and its valley.
Enjoy the good live in Dinan! With its old quarter, town centre and shops, there is plenty to pique your interest. Step through the doors of its many
bars… sorry I got sidetracked workshops, which are home to sculptors, glass blowers, painters and photographers.
There are also plenty of trails close at hand. Just stroll down rue du Jerzual and you’ll come to a towpath. Head left or right out of town and into woodland at the water’s edge. Ssssh… Did you hear something? Well no, just the peace and quiet of the valley.
Not to be missed!
Rue du Jerzual
Need to unwind? Then let off steam in this characterful street. It’s a bit of a climb but oh so beautiful. There is even a race named after this street, the Défi du Jerzual, or Jerzual challenge, and no, the locals aren’t mad!
And now for a bit of history. The street has connected the harbour to the upper town for 10 centuries!
Initially a commercial hub with links to St. Malo, the harbour became a marina in the 20th century. Imagine the olden day trading scenes that brought the town its riches. From the 11th century, the harbour was busy with trade from northern Europe (England and Flanders) then Spain and the Americas. The quiet of the morning gave way to the hustle and bustle of the afternoon and evening. The harbour is a perfect spot for a stroll at the foot of the mediaeval town.
This iconic monument, a former ducal residence, has stunning views over Léhon and the ruins of its mysteriouscastle. Come and soak up the atmosphere here and step into the shoes or a duke, chef or guard.
It is the focus of a restoration and development project, due to be completed in 2019.
We’ve already mentioned the ramparts briefly but they are definitely worth a look –
- 2.7 km of curtain walls,
- 10 towers
- and 4 gates.
They perfectly illustrate the development of military architecture and our tour guides will be able to recount all this history with the odd anecdote thrown in as well.
Livret Visites Guidées 2018
The half-timbered houses
It’s difficult to know where to look when you stroll around Dinan. Don’t look at your feet that’s for sure or you’ll miss one of the town’s 130 half-timbered houses. You’ll be charmed by the colourful architecture of these houses which are so typical of the town. They were built between the 15th and 18th centuries and give the old quarter its character. These beautiful residences feature corbels, porches or shop windows.
The clock tower
With a view that will take your breath away! The hundred or so steps will also have you catching your breath but you’ll forget all the effort when you reach the top. The tower marks the highest point in Dinan and symbolises the power of the bourgeoisie in face of the clergy and duke. We owe a bell to Anne of Brittany no less… which means the building is actually a belfry.
It also hosted council meetings until the French Revolution. Watch out if the bell rings though (particularly if you are right at the top) as you could get quite a shock!
It rings on the hour and every quarter and half hour so now you know!
View from the Clock Tower