La Bournais

Days out in Cotes d'Armour, Brittany

Dinan

A visit to the medieval town and port of Dinan (2.02W:48.27mN) is a must. The timbered buildings, cobbled streets and the old port are a photographers delight. During the peak seson a tourist "train" runs round the streets with commentary for a few Euros. Worth every cent, if only to save the walk back up from the port! You can also drive down to the port from the St Samson sur Rance Road, which is worth a visit, with its harbour-side cafes and restaurants.

Le Mont St Michel

Mont Saint Michel is a monastery built at the top of a rocky islet that overlooks the sea, right on the border between Brittany and Normandy. Towering at 560 feet above the English Channel is the statue of Archangel Saint Michael. Mont Saint Michel was an island and then, at the end of the 19th century, a causeway was built. It was separated from the mainland by one mile of sand at low tide, or by water at high tide. The range in tides is one of the greatest in Europe: it can be 46 feet between high and low water marks. The bay around the Mont is absolutely flat. In the early 8th century, according to catholic lore, Archangel Saint Michael instructed the bishop of Avranches, Saint Aubert, to build the monastery. From the year 1000 on, and for 6 consecutive centuries thereafter, the Dukes of Normandy and the pilgrims financed the construction of additional structures despite the difficulty of building on an island only accessible by foot. During the French Revolution, the fortified abbey became a prison for political opponents. Mont Saint Michel is a designated world heritage site.

Saint-Malo

The ancient walled city of St-Malo is extremely popular with visitors from all over Europe especially from the United Kingdom. The citadel, also known as the Old Town or Intra-Muros ("within the walls"), was originally built on a rocky island at the mouth of the Rance estuary.

St-Malo is one of the most attractive ports in France, with its lovely cobbled streets offering hotels, unlimited restaurants and bars. Lining the characterful lanes and squares are tall granite mansion blocks. St-Malo retains a charming historical atmosphere.

Why not take a tour on the little train to get your bearings, or, enjoy a walk around the ramparts. The Musée de la Ville tells you all you need to know about the town’s history.

Cancale

Nothing says Brittany like seafood and nothing says seafood like this village, Cancale one of the most picturesque fishing villages in Brittany. Cancale has a large selection of restaurants, it's said the best restaurants are situated around the port, La Houle, where you can sample the king of shellfish - Oysters. For the keen cooks a cookery lesson at the culinary school of Oliver Roellinger, the retired 3* Michelin chef, is a must.

If you want to discover the history and production of oyster farming then head to La Ferme Marine, this is a family company where you can see the farmers doing what they do best and you can see an exhibition of shellfish from all around the world, you may want to purchase some very nice shell-inspired jewellery and accessories from the on-site shop, as well as regional produce.

Two kinds of oysters are grown in France: the indigenous flat oyster and the imported hollow oyster. The majority of oysters cultivated in Cancale are of the hollow variety as flat oysters have been dying out since the 1970s this is due to them being infected by parasites. The shellfish are grown by individual farmers in a park, whose beds can be seen at low tide; more than 15,000 tonnes are produced each year.

Cancale has plenty to offer walkers as the GR34 old customs officer’s path runs along the coast, you can head north around the wild headland of Pointe de Grouin or head west along the Baie de St Michel. There’s also a choice of beaches

Dinard

Dinard's Promenade du Clair du Lune is lovely, lined with belle époque villas.

In Dinard, the road along the shore is adorned with beautiful palm trees and mimosa blooms, which, from July to the end of September, are illuminated at dusk with spotlights; walkers are serenaded with recorded music.

The city of Dinard has three beach areas, which offer a lovely place to begin a walk along the coastline. The beaches are all clean, and offer large stretches of sand from where the sea can be admired. The stretch of coastline begins at Saint-Malo and is referred to as the Emerald Coast because of its beautiful emerald green glaze.

The town’s main beach is the Plage de l’Ecluse, and is located in the very heart of Dinard. It is a favourite of the local people, and a place visited by the majority of tourists in Dinard. It is also surrounded by lovely and lively bars, restaurants and hotels, and the main casino of Dinard can be found nearby as well. The casino is open year-round, and offers everything your heart desires for this type of entertainment.

The second largest beach in Dinard is the Plage de St Enogat, also popular amongst locals and tourists.

The Moonlight Promenade is one of the most famous walkways in Dinard. Lovely, unspoilt views of the coastline, and although not full of ancient monuments like in many other French towns, there is a magical charm in this city.

Other popular walks are taken at the Pointe de la Malouine, a peninsula with Dinard spread out around it, with pretty multi-coloured beach houses along the way. Dinard is home to the Parc des Sports, there is an Olympic sized swimming pool filled with sea water and the Plage du Prieuré, a slightly less crowded beach out in the bay area. The city’s only real museum is the Site Balnéaire Museum, with exhibitions focused around the development of the town.

Rennes

Rennes is a city with rich heritage, it has a large pedestrian area with a large variety of quality shops providing the perfect environment for browsing or window shopping in Brittany’s retail capital.

You will most certainly be won over with the mediaeval part of the city, its architecture is pure quality, there are numerous timber-framed houses to be seen in the streets off the city centre and you can't miss all the fashionable boutiques.

Every Saturday morning in the unique historical backdrop of the Place des Lices is France’s second largest market, why not go along and browse the colourful stalls of over 300 producers from across Brittany. Coucou de Rennes chickens, Petit Gris melons and Reinette apples, dry and fruity cider, shellfish and the unmissable salted butter, you should try them all. With its creativity of chefs, Rennes is a gourmet destination not to be missed. With nearly 400 restaurants, the Metropolitan District of Rennes offers a choice of traditional and innovative cuisines, inspired by the Festival Gourmand. Gastronomic or traditional restaurants, bistros, crêperies are everywhere. The Parlement of Brittany building is one of Rennes and Brittany's finest tourist attractions. Steeped in history, this imposing law court overlooks the stately town square that bears its name, and features a wealth of 17th century French pictorial art.

Saint-Brieuc

Saint-Brieuc is the capital town of the Côtes-d'Armor in Brittany, this commercial town has preserved it's old heart around the cathedral, in the streets that immediately surround the cathedral you can see some of the most beautiful Renaissance and medieval houses. Medieval buildings you need to visit are the 'Hotel of the Dukes of Brittany' on Place Louis Guilloux,16th century, and the Maison du Ribeault on Place au Lin which is said to be the oldest house in Saint-Brieuc.

Saint-Brieuc has a pedestrianised shopping centre with a wide range of shops and lots of outdoor cafes in the streets and squares where you can sit and watch the world pass by, buskers perform there in the summer months. When you're all shopped out, why not set off for one of the parks that help the town qualify as a 'town in bloom'.