Dinan is one of France’s most attractive walled towns. Situated on a hillside overlooking the River Rance, Dinan’s 3km encirclement of walls remains virtually intact and houses street after street of late medieval houses.
Like St Malo 25km to the north, Dinan is best seen arriving by boat, with spectacular views of the castle and fortifications.
Head up the steeply cobbled rue du Jerzual or rue du Petit Fort from the picturesque old port, after browsing the craft shops and perhaps lunching outside one of the delightful quayside restaurants.
Time in Dinan may be best spent wandering from creperie to cafe, admiring the beautiful overhanging houses along the way. Unfortunately, only one small stretch of the ramparts is walkable, from the Jardin Anglais behind St Sauveur church to a point just short of Tour Sillon overlooking the river.
The church of St Sauveur is worth a visit for its mix of Romanesque, Gothic and eighteenth century styles and the Tour de l’Horloge offers impressive views of the town and surrounding area. Those who find walking difficult could take the tourist train for an hour’s visit of the town.
For more information, contact the Tourism Office Tel: (00 33) 2 96 87 69 76
Le Val-Andre features a huge beach with fine sand and an almost endless pedestrianised promenade stretching along the Victorian-style seafront. Rue Acharner which runs parallel to the sea is the place to make for if lively shopping and dining feature on your itinerary and a trip to the town’s waterfront casino is a great evening out.
The small seaside resort and fishing port of Erquy on the Emerald Coast offers plenty for the visitor to enjoy. Choose from 10 sandy beaches and little coves around its sheltered, west-facing bay, ranging from Plage du Centre in the town with a children’s playground, promenade and volley ball, the superb 2km Plage de Carousal patrolled by lifeguards in July and August - amphibious wheelchairs available at the first aid post - to the wilder beaches of Lourtuais and Lanruen backed by pines and heathland near Cap d’Erquy.
The 170 hectare protected reserve of the Cap has outstanding fauna and flora. Enjoy heathland walks and follow markers for the coastal path.
At low tide, it’s possible to walk across the whole bay provided you are well shod. A visit to the port is a must to witness the return of Erquy’s 60 scallop boats (fishing October to April). The large inshore fleet of over 73 vessels also handles spider crabs and lobsters as well as trawling for fish.
Local restaurants serve Erquy’s famous fresh scallops and other fish dishes. Before you leave, visit the cannonball kiln. This rare specimen of Vauban’s coastal defence system heated cannon balls so that when they were fired they would set fire to enemy English vessels.
Jugon-les-Lacs is set on the shores of a 4km lake, formed in the thirteenth century by damming streams - including the Jugon - which crossed the town to make a defence for its castle built on a rocky outcrop between wooded hills.
Nothing remains today of the castle which was strategically so important to the Dukes of Brittany. But water has always been important to Jugon’s inhabitants and mills once used for corn milling and tanning can be seen along nearby rivers.
Now popular with holidaymakers in central Brittany, Lake Jugon offers, canoeing, windsurfing and a sailing school amongst its watersports activities. There’s an outdoor heated pool and plenty of fishing in the lake and nearby rivers.
Follow the footpath around the lake or hire mountain bikes to explore further afield. Some of Jugon’s granite mansions date back to the sixteenth and seventeenth century and the attractive place du Martray has a busy market on Friday mornings and live music on summer evenings.
The central position of Rostrenen, a traditional market town of stone and slate, makes it an ideal base for exploring the beautiful peaceful woods and countryside of inland Brittany, reminiscent of a rural England long vanished.
Old Breton tales have given rise to a number of local festivals such as the ‘bod’ bush fair on the first Tuesday in December. Visit Rostrenen’s Tuesday market for traditional produce including organic bread and vegetables. South of the town, the towpath of the Nantes-Brest Canal is ideal for walking and cycling and at nearby Glomel there’s rock climbing and pony trekking.
All three of Brittany’s coastlines are accessible from Rostrenan while for those seeking a beach close by, Lake Korong can offer a man-made one along with children’s play area, canoeing, windsurfing and pedaloes for hire.
This little town set in the heart of central Brittany’s rolling countryside is an excellent base for walking, horse riding and cycling. The town has shops, restaurants, rural museum and an outdoor heated swimming pool. Lake Guerledan nearby in nearby Morbihan has plenty of watersports, fishing, swimming and sandy beaches.
Lannion itself is set back from the sea along the estuary of the River Leguer. Its present prosperity comes as a centre for telecommunications, but the old town still has plenty to attract the visitor.
Wander down to the river through narrow medieval streets and visit the popular market each Thursday in place du Centre and fish market in place du Miroir (each day from Tuesday to Saturday). Follow Lannion’s history trail, including the Templar church of Brelevenez which has terrific views from its terrace, past little squares, cafes and half-timbered houses.
To the west, the enormous beach of the Bay of Lannion can be walked at low tide over vast stretches of sand between St-Michel-en-Greve and Locquirec.
This inland university town set on the River Trieux has its share of nightlife and bars to cater for its youthful inhabitants. Parts of the medieval walls of the old town are still standing.
In the daytime, the place to sit and watch the world go by is the place du Centre which is traffic-free, overlooked by fine old eighteenth century houses and Renaissance-style ‘La Plomee’ fountain.
Guingamp enjoys 2 festivals, a candlelit annual pardon procession with bonfires and traditional dancing on the first Saturday in July - Gouel ar Bugale Vreizh - and the Fete de la Saint Loup in August involving a week of Breton dance and music.
Once a working fishing port sending cod and whaling fleets to Iceland, Paimpol is now mainly a pleasure port although you can still see fishing vessels leaving its 2 harbours.
Busy in summer with visitors making for the beaches of Brehec and taking sailing lessons or scuba diving and kayaking, the town is a jumble of cobbled streets and granite houses and Paimpol’s Tuesday market is well known for its fish and oysters.
Walk part of the GR34 long distance coastal path which passes this way offering magnificent coastal views. The ruins of the Abbaye de Beauport just outside the town, now colonised by wild flowers, trees and birds, have their own special magic.
Check for details of guided tours including summer evenings with atmospheric lighting on www.abbaye-beauport.com.