Dinan, Brittany: tourism & sightseeing
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Dinan is in the eastern part of Brittany, south of Saint-Malo and Dinard and north of Rennes. A highlight of a visit to Brittany, Dinan is a very impressive walled town set on a hillside overlooking the river Rance. It is one of our favourite towns in Brittany and definitely not to be missed.
The ramparts surrounding the town are more or less intact, and cover almost three kilometres. They are also a good place to start your visit to Dinan and although there is only one small section where you can walk on the ramparts themselves, you can often follow next to the ramparts enjoying the views - through the Promenade des Grand Fosses or along the promenade de la Duchesse Anne for example.
Go to the tourist office in Dinan when you arrive (at 6 Rue de l'Horloge) as they have leaflets with colour-coded walks to ensure you see everything Dinan has to offer. You will also have a chance to see the impressive 16th century townhouse where the Tourist Office have managed to establish themselves!
Dinan Chateau, one of the most imposing monuments in the town, is also part of the ramparts that surround the town. In the 'donjon' ('keep' or 'dungeon'), built in 1384, you can visit the town museum and in the basement there are some medieval tombs. The castle is to the south of Dinan centre.
You can now carry on into the extensive historical centre of Dinan, radiating out around Place des Merciers and Place Saint Sauveur and along Rue du Jerzual. This is a very nice area of the town just to wander around, stopping off for the occasional traditional crepe (pancake) of course. As you amble through the medieval heart of the town admiring the ancient half-timbered houses you will come across various places of interest.
In the north-east of the town on Grande Rue, the Saint Malo church is in a mix of renaissance and gothic styles and has some interesting modern stained glass windows inside but the renaissance style doorway is the main feature of interest.
In the east of the town there is another important religious monument: the basilica of Saint-Sauveur. This is an interesting mix of roman and gothic styles and worth a visit: the carvings around the roman style doorway are among the highlights. The heart of Bertrand Du Guesclin - saviour of the town in a battle against the English - is buried here.
Remember to stroll around the outside of the building: there is a nice garden behind the basilica that has views across the river and valley beyond, then a short distance east you can climb the 13th century Tour Sainte-Catherine for even better views.
Elsewhere in the centre of Dinan other notable highlights we found interesting include the Tour de l'horloge - a 15th century clock tower. It is easy to find because it dominates the town centre and is worth finding because you can go up inside the tower for the best views across the rooftops of Dinan. The Jardin Anglais is a pretty garden with excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
After exploring the historic centre you can continue north along Rue du Jerzual and also continue into Rue du Petit-Fort down the hill from the north-east of Dinan towards the port for more attractive houses and quayside buildings. Along the way you will pass the the Maison du Gouverner, one of the oldest houses in Dinan and which is open to the public so you can visit the inside
In the port area you should cross over the bridge for a good view as you turn and look back at the town. The port is also an excellent spot for lunch with a good selection of restaurants, perhaps before taking a boat trip along the Rance.
As reward for these many historic monuments Dinan is listed as a 'ville et pays d'art et d'histoire', a classification reserved for towns and regions that demonstrate they are trying to make the most of their setting, attractiveness and architecture.
There is a great deal to discover near Dinan, either heading along the rance to the north to the Normandy coast or exploring the other towns and villages in the surrounding countryside. among our favourite destination near Dinan we recommend you visit the coast town at Dinard and the small town of Dol-de-Bretagne, which has an impressive historical centre.
Map of Dinan and places to visit
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Dinan has received the following tourist classifications: recommended detour town (plus beau detour); historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History
Address: Dinan, Cotes-d'Armor, Brittany, 22100, France || GPS: latitude 48.453, longitude -2.045
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Dinan, France Rating: 4/5 Reviewed by ray on
Plan your visit to Dinan, Brittany
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Saint-Juvat: ville fleurie 4* (11km)
- Jardins du château de la Bourbansais: remarkable garden (12km)
- Estuaire de la Rance: site of natural beauty (13km)
- Jardins de Montmarin: remarkable garden (14km)
- Îlots Notre-Dame et Chevret: site of natural beauty (16km)
- Parc du château de Caradeuc: remarkable garden (19km)
- Dinard: town of art and history (20km)
- Rance (fleuve): site of natural beauty (21km)
- Embouchure - Rance: site of natural beauty (21km)
- Saint-Malo: ville fleurie 4* (22km)
Market days in Dinan, France
Regular market(s) are held in Dinan each Thursday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Dinan (Francais)