Don’t forget your sword, if you are going to Dinan - Brittany's best-preserved medieval town. With its 3 km long ramparts, half-timbered houses, beautiful port and cobbled streets full of art galleries and craft shops, this French town is full of surprises. Built mainly on a hill, fortified by the ramparts and defended by an imposing castle, Dinan was a strategic point for the traffic between Normandy and the north coast of Brittany. Today, this town is home to 71 protected historical monuments. So, if you like art, history and authentic places, then you definitely need to visit Dinan.
The best way to start your tour of Dinan is by visiting the city’s Clock Tower (tour de l’horloge). This highest point of the city has 160 stone steps leading to a wooden staircase and to the platform with an exceptional panorama of the entire Dinan. You can continue your tour by exploring Dinan Castle. This 13th-century castle houses now the town’s museum, where you can see and learn more about the turbulent Dinan history. Then, take a walk along the Promenade des Petits-Fossés, the path running below the magnificent ramparts, the oldest and most impressive in Brittany. You should also visit the Rue du Jerzual, a steep and delightful little street that connects the city center to the port of Dinan. Arrived at the bottom of the street Jerzual, you will discover the port of Dinan. This was once the center of the town, where you can today go for a pleasant walk and enjoy a drink in the shadow of the great viaduct. The quay is lined with old stone houses, many of which are now the waterside restaurants and chandlers’ shops. Before continuing your tour of Dinan, take a break, in one of the night bars in the pedestrian street, Rue de la Cordonnerie, also known as a ‘thirsty street’.
In Dinan, don’t miss the opportunity to visit its famous railway station. Built in 1931 by the French architect Georges-Robert Lefort, the railway station has two mosaics registered as historical monuments in 1995. One mosaic is representing a map of the railways of the region, and the other, a map of the town of Dinan. At the end of your visit to Dinan, go to the famous restaurant at the Place des Merciers – La Mère Pourcel. Opened in 1927 and set in a beautiful 15th-century timber-framed house, this restaurant offers exceptional regional cuisine. Here, you can have a savory meal, made with fresh and seasonal ingredients.
A major event in Dinan is la Fête des Remparts – a medieval fair. Every two years, the third weekend in July, the town transforms to a real medieval place, visited by thousands of people. Many locals, tourists and history fans are dressed in colorful medieval costumes and wearing their swords around the town. Even shops are decorated, and the tournaments are held in the old town. This medieval fair is so incredible that more than 100 000 people are taking part in the festivities each time. This is just one of the numerous reasons why you need to visit Dinan – Brittany's best-preserved medieval town.
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