Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dinan, Brittany

Dinan was spared bombardment during WWI and WWII and, as a result, retains a medieval quarter with interesting history and abundant charm. Wandering along these cobblestone streets feels like stumbling onto a set for a Harry Potter film. Delicious omelets and decadent ganaches, buckwheat pancakes, are common in about every dining establishment, and some of the finest are served by the popular Creperie Ahna.

In the old town center




A D-Day parade in Dinan

Seafood, however, is not to be missed, particularly the belon oysters. Righteously briny, with a crisp and lingering aftertaste, these are a treat for any lover of bivalves.

Parts of the ancient wall that surrounds Dinan are still walkable. One easy stroll, which offers a great view, is to pass through the square in front of the Church of St. Sauver, and stroll into the park behind the building. The views from the wall at that point are stellar, particularly from atop the turret where lower Dinan can be seen, sprawling along the river far below. A tourist train connects the upper and lower cities, for those disinclined to hike down--or back. After all, this is a vacation, right?

View of St. Catherine's Tower on the ramparts

                                                  The nearby Church of St. Sauveur




From Dinan, it is a short drive north to  a lazy country road that connects several oceanfront communities north of St. Malo. Even though the fog was thick the day of our drive, the views were nonetheless enchanting, particularly from Pointe du Grouin.






We ended our day at the Chateau Richelieu, a fabulous property that overlooks the bay on the outskirts of Cancale. Home to the widest tides in the world, low tide beckons fishmongers, who spend as much time as is safe on the vast mudflats and gather what they can. As the tide begins to rise, they trudge back to the safety of shore, their bicycles laden with sacks full of the day's bounty.



Chateau Richelieu



Dinner at the chateau was nearly as special as the view. We enjoyed belon oysters for a starter, progressed to lamb (a unique taste due to the salt water which permeates the region's soil), then onto a selection of cheeses and decadent desserts. All, of course, accompanied by a fine wine and excellent calvados. Oh, and a bottle of champagne, served outside, overlooking the gathering sea.

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