Dinan in Brittany is a charming riverside town, full of medieval history, with a 13th century castle and ramparts that encircle this well-preserved sanctuary where time has stood still.
Wander through Dinan’s narrow cobbled streets, lined with pretty half-timber houses, and discover the Flamboyant Gothic St Malo church, the Basilica of St Saveur and the 40m high Tour de l’Horloge (clock tower). Climb the 158 steps to the top for some fantastic views of the town and surrounding area. For even better views, why not take a walk along the ramparts, which, at nearly 2.7km long, are the oldest and most impressive in Brittany.
From the port, make your way up the steep Rue du Petit-Fort, which was Dinan’s main point of access until the 18th century. This cobbled hill with its half-timbered houses appears on many a postcard; have a browse in the arts and crafts shops. Dinan has been designated a Ville d’Art et d’Histoire (Town of Art and History) and the town is filled with artists, sculptors, engravers, bookbinders, glassblowers and more.
The jewel in Dinan’s crown is its Centre Historique, filled with fantastically preserved half-timbered houses, cobbled streets and impressive monuments and buildings. You could spend days wandering the maze of streets, ducking into inviting craft shops or art galleries and photographing the occasional landmark.
The Château de Dinan is now a museum dedicated to the town’s history and Dinan’s famous hero, Bertrand du Guesclin, a Breton knight who became a military commander during the Hundred Years’ War is remembered with 4 different memorials across the town. In 1357 the English laid seige to the town but it resisted.
To get your bearings, climb the 158 steps to the top of the 40m (132ft)-high Tour de l’Horloge for wonderful views over Dinan and the surrounding area – you can see as far as Mont-Saint Michel on a clear day. Nearby Place du Guesclin is the site of the Thursday-morning market.