Friday, August 5, 2011

30. Rick Steve's Tour of Dinan

“If you have time for only one stop in Brittany, do Dinan.” Quoting our favorite travel writer Rick Steves and following his advice – today our last day in Dinan we finally read his article!! We left our apartment late (waiting for rain to subside) – took the key for our British landlord to the Post Office – and checked out everywhere Rick advised that we had either missed or did not know exactly what it was before reading his writings on this fabulous city – Dinan! This is Britanny’s best medieval town center – while catering to tourists with all the usual things tourists demand… ”it’s a workaday Breton town filled with people who appreciate the beautiful place they call home.” 
Our first stop on leaving the Apartment was to check out a little antique store nearby – and oh my!! It is also a tea room and the largest teapot museum in the world….one in Tennessee is the second largest and does not have nearly as large a collection. The owner and collector was delightful to talk with – and the whole time, I was so wishing Gianina could have been with me to see this!!

Starting in Place du Guesclin – we look carefully at the statue on horseback of Bertrand du Guesclin – John was really tickled by his face and we can see why they called him small of stature but big of heart. He was a key player in defeating the English ( like Joan of Arc) and right at the spot of his statute in Dinan, he defeated Sir Thomas of Canterbury. (refer to the painting of this duel in the hundreds of trip photos we’ve taken!)  This Place is also special because the weekly market is held here on Thursdays. 

Leaving this Place we follow the road past our favorite restaurant (Le Canterbory), and arrive at Theatre des Jacobins. One-third of Dinan used to be convents and this is one of them – now a theater. Brittany remains the most Catholic part of France. 

Following the rue de l’Horloge ( the clock tower street ) we have often noticed a tombstone carving of a headless knight laid out on a bench and thought “hmmmm that is interesting”,  and kept walking. It turns out to be the town mascot: “Anybody’s Tombstone”, a prefab from the Hundred Year’s War when no one could afford individual tombstone design and just put their portrait bust on this one!
John had made a previous visit to the Clock Tower and climbed its 160 steps – so no need to add to that here, and he did NOT repeat the effort!

The area around the Town Center is the most photographed and interesting. They have buildings which expanded as they got taller, hanging over the walking areas,  because property taxes were based on the square footage of the ground floor.  Streets are named for the type of commerce that was taking place in the area. 

Place des Merciers was such a unexpected delight – I cannot imagine why we have never entered the Courtyard before! It used to be a Franciscan monastery and is now a middle school…hmm really interesting. 

There was an art exhibit going on, with paintings (beautiful women the predominant subject), and sculptures.

Why come to a medieval fortress town if you don’t walk the Ramparts. We have done them all and loved it! Our favorite Tower is very near our apartment and is called St. Catherine’s Tower. You access it through the English Gardens right beside us – the site of many picnics and pleasurable walks. It is also where we viewed the firework celebration for Bastille Day. Thus ended our Rick Steves tour of Dinan!
Every morning and evening we listen to the bells from the Church of St. Sauveur   (which is officially a basilica, over a thousand years old) and it is the view out of the front windows of our apartment.  Most mornings we also hear the organ being played while we are pondering our day. 

We continued to get ready to leave tomorrow for our journey by bus and train to Paris – with flight to follow on Sunday. Tried out a new restaurant tonight (La Fontaine du Jerzual)  very close to us and – if we had only known how much we would like it - we would have frequented this creperie often during our visit here. Once again we had a charming student waitress that chatted with us – a family with large dogs that sat next to us and also provided nice conversation….all in all a good end to our Dinan adventure! Rue du Jerzual which heads steeply down to the Port is filled with artisan shops and nice restaurants…and all cobblestone! We have done this walk several times so did not do it again today but highly recommend not only the walk down but the River Rance is a very nice place to spend some time when visiting Dinan. It actually existed long before the town and was at one time a very important Port. 

Thank you so much for traveling with us – be thinking of us as we make our way home and we will post a final update and thoughts then. 

PIC captions: Tea Museum owner weighs out tea!
                      Tea Museum setting and part of collection.
                            Place du Guesclin.
                            Theatre des Jacobins.
                            The "Anybody Tombstone" - just put any head on there.
                            Lynn at Place des Merciers with sculpture.
                            Classic pic of Center of town, Dinan, on all the postcards!
                            St. Catherine's Tower, DinanWall, English Garden from Viaduc.
                            Creperie on Rue de Jerzual, last supper in Dinan.

CLICK here for all photos and vids:
2011 Dinan and Paris French Adventure

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