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Chateau de Dinan visitor guide

Photo of Chateau de Dinan

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Visit Chateau de Dinan, France

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The chateau in Dinan is an imposing medieval monument on the edge of the historic town of Dinan, in north-east Brittany.

Explore Dinan castle

France This Way comment: the castle is quite interesting to see, but less impressive than the town itself and you can see some of the outside of the castle without paying for admssion, so we would explore Dinan historic centre and port area first, and if time permits visit the castle

Dinan castle was built in the 1380s by the Duke of Brittany, Jean IV, when he returned to France after several years in exile in England.

Fireplace in the banquet hall of Dinan castle

The original building was a 45 metre high tower. As well as being a defensive tower that is part of the ramparts of Dinan, the tower was also designed to be an imposing residence, with different fuctions allocated to each of the levels in the tower. As a result it is often referred to as a "tower-palace".

The lower level was used for everyday functions such as cooking and storage, the next floor was the public space for banquets and also has the chapel, and the upper floors were used for bedrooms. The top of the tower is a terrace that overlooks the region around Dinan.

Apparently, a visitor could tell how highly they were rated by the Duke when they visited, by the highest floor that they were allowed to access: if you got no further than the lower kitchen and storage areas you were not a very important visitor!

Originally there would also have been a courtyard next to the tower that contained various workshops and a stable.

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The main defensive role of Dinan castle was in the 16th century during the Wars of Religion, and it was at this time that the original tower was linked to the nearby Coetquen Tower by a subterranean passage and by a walkway on the ramparts. The defensive role of the ensemble was strengthened by the addition of a moat around the buildings.

It is interesting how the function of the castle had changed over time: orginally it was built so that the Duke of Brittany could control the population of the town, but three centuries later it was being used to defend the people of the town.

After the wars ended, the need for a castle in Dinan had passed and the chateau became abandoned and neglected. It found a new use in the 18th century, when the tower was used as a prison. It was also at this time that the original roof was removed from the tower, and replaced by the terrace that we can see today.

The use as a prison continued until the beginning of the 20th century. Dinan castle was then bought by the town and renovated, with the castle - museum opening in 1908.

Visit Dinan castle

An extensive programme of renovations has taken place in recent years, and Dinan castle now has several information panels as you follow the visit that explain the history of the bulding and also help explain what it was like to live here in medieval times, such as the typical meals that were eaten.

During your visit you can see the two towers, the ramparts and the subterranean passage. The tour includes all the main rooms of the Tour Ducale, although these are rather sparsely furnished. The highlight of the tour is perhaps the views from the terrace and walkway, which are very far-reaching across Dinan and the surrounding Brittany countryside.

The castle is open every day from May to September, and afternoons only (close monday) during April and October to December (closed January to March).

Walk on the ramparts of Dinan castle

Attractions nearby

There are many sights of interest in Dinan, including two important churches, a port and a very extensive medieval town centre. See the Dinan guide for details.

Our favourite attractions close to the town include the village of Saint-Suliac, on the Rance river a few kilometres north of Dinan, and the charming seaside resort at Dinard.

See more castles in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Cotes-d'Armor guide and the Brittany guide.

See also: 

Photos of Chateau de Dinan

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • bridge
  • chapel
  • dinan-castle_25
  • entrance-tower
  • fireplace-2
  • fireplace
  • kitchens
  • passages
  • passages
  • rooms_1
  • rooms_2
  • tower
  • walk-on-ramparts

Map of Chateau de Dinan and places nearby

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The French version of this page is at Chateau de Dinan (Francais)

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