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A Week in Brittany, June 2019

Pauline

Forums Admin
This was a last minute trip, booked the week before. The plan is one night in Cherbourg and a week in Dinard (across the bay from St Malo).

We took the afternoon ferry from Poole to Cherbourg. This is the shortest crossing, 4 1/2 hours. We drove an hour from Bridport to Poole and arrived an hour before the 1:45pm departure time. It was raining when we left and overcast but no rain when we arrived in France at 7:15 France time, 6:15 British time. We had an interior cabin which was very small but it was nice to be able to stretch out on the single beds. The crossing cost £250 return for us and the car, £30 extra each way for a cabin.

We are not used to the sat nav in the new car so managed to miss a turn heading to the hotel in Cherbourg. I was driving. Luckily there was not much traffic but it did take us two turns around the area before we found our way.

We are at the Hotel Mercure, a chain that I like in France. They are in the same group as Sofitel and Ibis and sit in between price wise. They provide fragrance free rooms and don’t pump fragrances into the lobby. We have a view of the harbour.

We walked into the center and had a very good dinner at a Lebanese restaurant, Le Comptoir Libanais. We both had the vegetarian plate, a selection of “mezze” including hummus and falafel! €28 for two.

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View from hotel.

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Dinner at the Lebanese restaurant.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We’ve just had a big storm in England but it was worse in the north. We had heavy rain one day, Sunday I think, and it was raining lightly today. We’ve been following the weather and it looks like the bad weather has ended. We may get a few overcast days, but temps are going up next week. It was chilly tonight. I brought our swimming gear but we may not get a day hot enough. Fingers crossed for some sunshine!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Friday June 14, 2019 - Dinard

We walked out for breakfast this morning and saw a bit more of Cherbourg. We stopped at a cafe and had coffee and bread and butter (tartine), my favourite breakfast. I watched the waiter walk across the lane to the bakery and buy the bread. Do they do this for every order? It was a bit late in the morning, 10am, but they had various petit dejeuer on the menu. Anyway, it was a baguette cut into 2 orders and was excellent.

Google Maps and my satnav said 2 hours 30 minutes for the drive to Dinard but as we started the satnav announced traffic on the route so it would go on an alternative route. Well that route ping-ponged us down the Cotentin peninsula for 2 hours, on small roads, through villages, even on very narrow lanes. A beautiful drive but I was never sure where we were. Finally we were on a highway and could see Mount St Michel in the distance. We reached the vacation rental exactly at our 2pm checkin time.

The checkin was delightful. The owner was there with his university age daughter and her boyfriend. The young people were fluent in English, the father knew some but was happy that Steve speaks French. This is their holiday cottage - they live 45 minutes south in the larger city of Rennes - and they rent it out when they are not using it. They love this area and are thrilled to have a cottage here.

They cottage is small, but not too small, and comfortable. Good kitchen, good Wi-fi, lots of light. My only complaint, and I always have one, is that it backs onto a bit of a busy road. Not very busy but you hear cars go by when sitting in the pretty garden.

We walked 10 minutes and were on the coast path. I had my first glimpse, on this trip, of St Malo across the bay. Such a beautiful sight! There is a ferry boat that takes you there from Dinard in 10 minutes.

We followed the path to the closest beach, Prieure, then we were on the promenade Clair de Lune, a beautiful wide walkway that follows the coast around Dinard. The city streets are above and there are frequent stairs to get up there. There are restaurants and houses along the walkway, and views out to the bay and St Malo. We walked to the Casino at the city center, then took streets back (much faster).

Stopped at a very good natural foods shop to get things for dinner. There is a sign saying it has been there 70 years (need to double check that). We bought organic dates from a Israel! We haven’t had dates that good since last November when we got them straight from the farm (@joe ).

Dinard is a beautiful town, stunningly beautiful. Big historic houses, a pretty central shopping area, several beaches, and all that water. I am very happy that we came here for this last minute trip.

It was sunny now and then today and cool. We had a bit of rain in the afternoon. Tomorrow doesn’t look great but then it gets better. Tomorrow is Market day in Dinard.

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My first glimpse of St Malo.

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The Clair de Lune Promenade.

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Steps from the Promenade to the city streets.

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St Malo from Prieure beach.

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Dates from Israel.
 

phirhon

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Sounds lovely Pauline. We stayed a little south of Dinan and did not get to Dinard. I would like to return to Brittany as in all our trips to France, we have only spent one week there.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Saturday June 15, 2019

Overcast again today, several rain showers, most of them light, some sun, windy. Not a great day weather-wise, but we made do. We went to the Dinard market in the morning. We drove in because we didn’t want to walk home carrying all our purchases. There was a lot of traffic in the market area and no parking, but I drove a few more blocks and found a spot on the main shopping street.

I’ve been doing all the driving because Steve wrenched his back the day before the trip (yes! But it is getting better) and parking is not my best talent. I was parallel parking in a narrow spot and a crowd gathered to help. Three women my age watched and cheered when I got parked. An elderly couple came by and helped me fine tune the parking until it was perfect. Plus Steve was directing. Good thing I am much better parking now with all the beeping of the parking assistance in the car.

The market was very good. It is outside around the small, permanent inside market. Two organic vegetable stalls, lots of local food producers, clothes that looked very nice, not junky. We bought lots of vegetables, some local sheep’s cheese, great bread, some pastries, and one of those striped blankets from Tunisia.

Dinard is an upscale town. The buildings are beautiful, the shops look expensive, lots of restaurants. The French people walking around look very stylish. The location of the town is stunning.

We picked up a few lunch things and took them home.

We didn’t do anything in the afternoon because it was raining but when it stopped we went for a drive to Saint Lumaire where I had almost booked a place, but someone else booked it while I was deciding. Saint Lumaire is much smaller than Dinard but would be a good location. The town is full of beautiful old stone buildings, it has a nice beach, there are a few shops and restaurants, plus you are only 10 minutes by car from Dinard.

We drove further along the coast to St Briac sur Mer, another cute town, then back home. I made dinner from all the lovely vegetables.

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Nicely parked (paid parking).

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Baguettes.

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Steve with our loot.

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Interesting building in Saint Lumaire.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Sunday June 16, 2019

What is going on with the weather this year? In the UK some places got a month of rain in two days. Some two or three months worth. Flooding in the north. Here it was warmer, which is great, but was overcast most of the day. We had some sun and at 7pm we have full sun. We should go out for a walk now ... and maybe we will.

The Brittany Coast Path goes along the edge of Dinard. Today we got onto the path at the beach near us and walked around Dinard. I love the views of St Malo across the bay. The Clair de Lune Promenade along the east side of Dinard is the nicest part of the path. The Promenade is wide and today was busy. Walkers, runners and guys in kayaks doing some sport in the swimming pool that appears when the tide is out. This morning the tide was way out. We walked by the place where you get the ferry to Saint Malo.

There is a pretty point just before you get to the main beach of Dinard. There are a lot of small islands in the bay. We saw a Condor car ferry coming from the Channel Islands. We arrived that way two years ago.

Heading west out of Dinard the path is narrower and scary with no fence or railing. Nothing between you and a 50 foot drop to rocks. When the tide is in, the water comes up over the rocks and you don’t fear falling as much.

We kept on walking until we were out of Dinard. We had been walking three hours. We had our lunch on the beach then walked back along the edge of town.

We were walking a trail created by the city, called the Laurence of Arabia trail because he used to live here and was a walker. It is only marked for walking in one direction, not the one we were walking, but we found the way with only a few missteps. I assumed we would be on city streets but we walked along fields and through woods, then some quiet streets, then into a park and we were back where we started.

8.5 miles, nearly 5 hours. It was an easy walk and we had lots of stops along the way. Thank you Dinard for having public restrooms on every beach! A wonderful day and we are going to go to the beach now because 8pm feels like noon.

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This pool appears when the tide is out.

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People getting off the ferry from Saint Malo.

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Walking on the point just before the center of Dinard.

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View of Saint Malo.

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The path west of Dinard, looking back. Narrow path and the tide is out.

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Our lunch view.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Monday June 17, 2019

Full sunshine all morning! Partial sunshine all afternoon! Full sunshine again in the evening! And it is warm, 70F. Finally!

We spent the morning, in the full sunshine, wandering around town and walking along the water. The bakery closest to us, a 15 minute walk, is closed for a few days, so no croissants there. We had a coffee at the nearby cafe, then walked into the center to find some open places. Things were quiet in town, with places closed on Monday, so it took awhile to find a cafe that served petit dejeuner, but we found one. Then we walked along the water on the Promenade. The sunshine felt wonderful and the town was looking great.

There are tourists here, but not very many, and most are French or German. I see a few British cars and we spoke to a British couple staying in the area. Dinard is not crowded and feels very relaxed.

We walked 4.5 miles in the morning which was surprising but we were out for several hours.

We had lunch at home then drove west for 45 minutes to Erquy, another seaside town. The book Walking in Brittany has a good circular hike from Erquy which took us from the town and along the coast path and the Cap d'Erquy. We walked another 5.5 miles on this hike and spent about three hours. It was overcast for part of the hike but the sun came out for the last part.

This was a beautiful hike. We started in the town (quiet) and climbed up to the headlands of the Cap, then walked across to the coast path on the other side. This area is like a park, protected and with many marked trails. The coast path was along the cliffs with beautiful views. It is like a heath, covered in small flowering shrubs. We had to walk down to the sea, then back up again, about 150 steps each way, several times, but other than that it was easy.

The last part of walk goes by Four a Boulets, a stone building from the 18th century (Louis XVI) that was a kiln used to heat cannonballs that were then fired at British wooden ships, so they would catch fire.

It also passes a quarry from the 19th century where they got the pink granite used to make streets in Paris.

A wonderful hike! On the drive home we stopped at a natural foods shop on the highway west of Frehel. We spent almost an hour there and got things for meals and to take home.

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I like this part of the Promenade with those houses built into the cliff. From the street above they look like 3 storey buildings.

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Old wood poles for oysters.

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Dinard on the left, St Malo on the right.

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Map of Cap d’Erquy hiking area.

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Looking east from the Cap d’Erquy.

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150 steps up from the beach. We walked up three different sets of these.

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More views.

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Four a Boulets, a stone building from the 18th century (Louis XVI) that was a kiln used to heat cannonballs that were then fired at British wooden ships, so they would catch fire.

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19th century quarry where they got the pink granite for Paris streets.

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Lake formed in the old quarry.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Tuesday June 18, 2019

It rained lightly all morning and was overcast, so hung around the house. The rain stopped at 2pm and we drove up to Dinan (30 minute drive). We parked at the port in Dinan. The last time we parked up in the main town. This was better. We parked along the road (paid parking) and there is a large car park at the end of the road.

By now it was sunny and hot! The opposite of the morning! We walked up the hill, on a charming lane lined with timber framed houses, to the main town.

We were back on the tourist track here. Lots of people, lots of shops and restaurants, even one of those tourist trains that you see in all the Brittany tourist spots. At first it was all exciting but after 30 minutes it was enough. We walked part of the city walls. We did this last time too, but walked a different part this time. We walked around the city center then went back down to the port and did a walk along the river. On our last trip we walked upstream. This time we walked downstream for 45 minutes, then turned around. It was a lovely walk and by now we appreciated the shade along the way.

I like Dinan - it is beautiful, historic and has lots of restaurants - but I like Dinard better for a place to stay because it is on the sea and is quieter.

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The street that goes up from the port. The trousers this couple are wearing are the same color as the red and white building.

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Walking around the town (a path goes around the town center, parts on the walls, parts lined with trees like this.

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View of the town center from the walls.

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Looking down to the port and the river from the walls.

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Town centre.
 

phirhon

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Your photos of Dinan brought back memories. I did say we had only spent one week in Brittany, but I did not mention our first short stay.
Our first overseas trip was in 2004 to the UK for our eldest son's wedding. Just before we left to return home, they left on a trip around Europe and asked us to come for four nights before we left. Their first stop was Dinan and they had a holiday rental on the Rue de Jerzuel, the street up from the port, in Dinan. In fact, it was very similar to the red building in your photo. We were absolutely amazed to be staying in such a location. It was totally beyond anything we ever imagined we would do. I think we fell in love with France then and decided we had to return. We were there in late September that year, and did return in May 2012 when we were staying a little south in Yvignac la Tour. As you said, it is lovely, but like a lot of places, a victim of its popularity as a result.
Thanks for the memories.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Wednesday June 19, 2019

This weather! Today was overcast and wet all day. Temps in the low 60sF, 10 degrees cooler than yesterday. We had planned to take the boat to Saint Malo and maybe do the 3.5 hour hike back to Dinard. The hike goes inland along the bay, across the bridge that is a dam, then back along the bay to Dinard. But with all this rain, the trail would be muddy.

So we drove to Saint Malo, put on our rain jackets and explored the town. We’ve been there once before and this time looked at more of the old buildings. 80% of the town was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt, but there are several streets of original buildings from the 15-16th centuries.

The rain stopped so we walked some of the ramparts. Wonderful views out to sea and across the bay to Dinard.

We had crepes for lunch then went back home and didn’t do much. Tomorrow is forecast for sun, so we can do another hike.

The cottage we rented is very comfortable, clean, great kitchen, spacious, in a pretty area. But it backs onto a main road. Not constant traffic and not fast, but cars going by. The deck and large garden are in the back with a large hedge separating them from the road. Beautiful neighbourhood of mostly older, large houses. 15 minute walk to bakery and cafe. 30 minutes to center of town.

@Lisa in Ottawa talked about towels in another thread. This house is the same as the one she mentioned. We are here for a week. One hand towel and two bath towels. That is it. No extras anywhere. There is a powder room downstairs and they didn’t even leave a towel for it. But they were super nice at checkin, left a Welcome Pauline and Steve sign, and the house is well equipped.

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House we rented from AirBnB.

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View from Saint Malo to Dinard. What is that cruise ship doing there?

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Historic buildings in Saint Malo.

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Only remaining historic building with wood and glass front, on left.

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Vegetarian crepe. Very good.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Thursday June 20, 2019 - Dinard

Good weather for our last day! Cooler, low 60sF, partial sun. Pleasant walking weather. We drove to Chateau du Guildo (20 mins drive west), remains of a castle from the 15th century, and got on the coast path. We walked in the east direction to the town of Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer and then out to the point. This bay between Saint-Jacut and Saint-Cast-Le-Guildo to the west empties out at low tide. The tide was going out when we started but four hours later when we finish, the tide was out and the huge bay was mud. It was amazing to see.

From the point we started to walk back on the other side of the peninsula but lost the trail (which is usually well marked) and ended up crossing back and picking up the path we had taken out.

Lovely walk. There were people out on the trail. We passed a group of 50 middle aged French hikers. The path went through woods, along beaches, and in some places in between large houses and the sea. We walked for 8.5 miles.

We got back home around 5pm, then did a last walk into Dinard, along the Promenade and back on town streets. This is a lovely town.

Packing up and heading home tomorrow. We drive 2.5 - 3 hours to Cherbourg for a 3:30pm ferry to Poole. Arrives at 7pm UK time, then a 1 hour drive home.

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Chateaux Guildo.

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Tide is heading out.

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Boat that can go on land heading to oyster beds.

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Oyster beds with the tide going out.

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Pretty seawall.

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Tide is out.
 

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