“Set high above the fast-flowing Rance River, the narrow cobblestone streets and squares lined with crooked half-timbered houses of Dinan’s old town are straight out of the Middle Ages.” Lonely Planet’s description of Dinan is quite apt.
The first excursion outside of Rennes in November 2015 was to Dinan, this charming small, old town on the Rance, rather close to Dinard, St. Malo and the sea. What I learned from my other guide books is, that Dinan was until the 18th century famous for its fabrics, which were transported on the Rance to the sea port and from there traded in many countries.
The center of Rennes is located on a plateau above the river. This is were all the old timber houses and the churches are, while the port at the Rance the charming old bridge (Vieux Pont) and many small restaurants with a nice view on the scenery are at the Rance.
What I already noticed in Rennes, many charming curtains in windows, became an obsession in Dinan and are reflected in their own page.
While there is a train connection via Dol, Dinan is most convenient reached on a bus run by Illenoo from Rennes within an hour.
Follow me on an excursion in Dinan. This is not a comprehensive tour, but more a first impression. Remember, this was in early November – a lovely day, with some sunshine and warm enough to sit outside for coffee and lunch. As tourist season is over, the town is less crowded and shows more its normal face, though it cannot conceal that it lives from tourism. Some places, such as the clock tower (Tour d’Horloge) are closed – a good reason to come back. The town is already decorated for the coming Christmas season with the winter lights – another reason to come back soon and stay for a night to see the town in its festive winter gown.
So, let’s start. This is a view into one of the old streets close to the bus stop.
It does not take a long walk to get awed by the old timber houses – this time of the year complemented by the Christmas decoration.
Let’s walk further on the cobble stone street
though the shop windows are still the mirrors of today with many decorative and artful displays,
while this restaurant invites us into the ambience of old times.
The landmarks of Dinan, the clock tower. The view from its top is supposed to be stunning, however the tower is closed this time of the year.
And more timber houses to admire.
Before we walked down the river let’s first have a look. The English garden (Jardin Anglais) is a serene place to take a short rest, with a view on the basilique St-Sauveur and Tour Ste-Catherine as well as on the river Rance from the ramparts looking down on it.
From the English garden we walked down to the river – with a small detour to the ramparts. They stretch quite long along the town, but we were quite lazy and settled for visiting only two. From there one has splendid views on the town as well as down on the river.
The walk down on Rue du Petit Fort is a real treat for the eyes. So many old, well preserved houses, their beautiful windows, adorned with decorative net curtains and quite many art galleries, jewelry shops and other artisan work.
And here we are – at the Rance with its port and sailing boats. In summer there are boat tours on the river, down to Dinard at the sea. The Vieux Pont charmingly stretches over the Rance, while the viaduct sits majestically over the whole valley and carries today’s traffic onto the old town. Down here is the right place to have lunch, sitting in the sunshine and enjoy the day.
The walk back up the hill is a good exercise after a meal and the eyes are again drawn to the beauty of the town.