Brittany Stories and Tips


Dinan Photo, Brittany, France

Dinan is located in the Cotes D’Armour region only a 20 minute drive from "The Corsair City" of Saint-Malo, a Ferry Port which has frequent crossings to and from the South Coast of England and the Channel Islands.

Dinan is one of the finest of all Brittany's "Towns of Artistic and Architectural Interest" (Ville d'Art et d'Histoire) and it has lost none of its medieval charm. If there are such things as magical towns where history is omnipresent, then Dinan surely merits to be counted among the number. It is one of Europe’s most exceptional towns. Former seat of the dukes of Brittany, Dinan is protected by 75 metre high Ramparts, dominating the Rance river.

It is a good place to stay either for a while to enjoy discovering the surrounding area or just overnight to break your journey to and from Central France.

Within the town are chateau, gardens, lively narrow, cobbled, flower-decked streets and half-timbered buildings. Take a walk in Dinan's parks and gardens with their unique views over the Rance Valley. You can visit the medieval belfry called "La Tour de l'Horloge", "Saint Sauveur" basilica (XIIth Century), "Saint Malo" church (XVth - XIXth) and the many places of interest within just a short drive away.

A Little History

The first existing record of a lord of Dinan dates back to the 10th century. A document relates that Josselin, the brother of the Archbishop of Dol was present when Anne of Brittany gave the Abbey of Saint George to the Archbishop. Dinan became a true city at this time. A Benedictine convent moved in, and in the beginning of the 12th century, a system of defense was begun.

By the beginning of the 14th century, Dinan was prospering thanks to its commerce with England and Flanders. Unfortunately, the War of Secession of Brittany put an end to Dinan's economic prosperity. Dinan took the side of Charles de Blois, and when he was killed, Jean IV, Duke of Monfort, laid siege to the city for a month. He celebrated his victory with the construction of a dungeon (1380-1387).

During this troubled period, the English besieged the city incessantly. Du Guesclin, commander of the resistance for Dinan, fought and defeated Thomas of Canterbury at today's Place du Champs Clos.

In the 15th century, Dinan reinforced its ramparts and added several towers more adapted to the progress of artillery at the time. In 1598, during the League, Dinan united the Duke of Mercoeur the rebel, and rallied against Henri IV.

Throughout the 17th century, religious orders set up convents in the Dinan area. In the 18th century, religion became less important, and the sound of 800 spinning wheels filled the city, weaving cloths that were exported to the West Indies and to South America. The city's fairs attracted huge crowds.

Urbanisation evolved for these and other reasons, thanks to the influence of Charles Déclassé-Pinot.

Originally (Kith), Dinan is a small commercial harbour on the Rance. The strategical and economical importance of this port didn't escape the attention of the Breton Dukes. One of them, Jean Le Roux 1st, buys the kingdom of Dinan from its feudal lords and poses the first stones of an imposing fortress. It still shelters medieval churches, convents, wooden lathed houses and private mansions... The exceptional riches of this architectural, military, civil, religious and contemporary heritage are marvellously maintained in Dinan, a city of human dimension with a real quality of life. A journey into a faraway past, rich in history and glory, an invitation to discovery and dream!

In Dinan, the decor is reality

2,700 metres of ramparts (XIIIth - XVth), a Roman-Gothic basilica, a beautiful gothic church, an imposing XIVth century keep. An architectural heritage marvellously preserved. About fifty wooden lathed houses, renaissance hotels, a medieval belfry "La Tour de l'Horloge", convents, about one hundred or so private mansions from the "Lumières" era, a very ancient port on the Rance, a deep valley, a natural preserved setting.

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