France: Dinan

Day 11  Sunday, October 5, 2014

Relax and Enjoy

Today was our “vacation from vacation” day. We had no big plans and no place we needed to be. We could have decided to sleep late, but if you recall our room is just across a narrow street from the basilica. The bells started ringing at 7:00. That was lovely. At 8:45 they started ringing constantly until 9:00. We were wide awake for breakfast downstairs at 9:00.

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After a delightful breakfast, which included freshly squeezed orange juice, we headed for a walk to see Dinan. This is a medieval walled town that was not damaged in the war. We walked the narrow, winding street that led down to the port on the river. Half-timbered houses line the cobbled streets. Lots of photo opportunities meant getting to stop and rest our knees, as the slope was between 30 and 40 degrees.

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I’m not certain pictures convey how steep the walk to the river and back was. Trust us.

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At the bottom of the hill an open bakery was waiting that served freshly baked kouign-amann (pronouced queen ah mon), which are layers of butter pastry with caramelized sugar.

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Butter, sugar, and flour. And more butter. And more sugar.

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That was fuel for the walk back up the hill. We climbed up to the ramparts to walk along the wall and take in the view of the river Rance and surrounding buildings. Cities fare much better without wars.

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We walked for the top to the bottom and back. Surely we burned off a couple of the calories.

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We thought a visit to the water would be fun, so we headed out to Cap Frehel. This is beautiful countryside with fields of corn, leeks, and cabbage along with apple orchards and some dairy cows. The rocky coastline is dotted with some wide beaches, but where there are no beaches, it’s a steep drop to the water. The view from the cap was dramatic and rather intimidating.

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Vertigo anyone?

For a bit of history that isn’t marked by 1066 or 1944, we hunted down a druid megalith. The 65 huge stones were placed in an organized fashion between 6000 BCE and 2000 BCE, but the meaning of the arrangement was lost on us. There are five east-west rows. We couldn’t read the descriptive markers, but the words in French that we could put together either made the spot a pre-Celtic cemetery, a dance hall, or something in between. It was pretty neat.

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Every stone tells a story.

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Jim found information online that helps translate some of the signage. There is a legend that the fairies who helped carry the stones used to build Mont St. Michel got tired and dropped these stones along the way. Those wacky French!

We took some time this evening to just stroll around Dinan with no particular targets. This is a delightfully petite city. None of the streets follow a straight line, so there are surprises at every turn. We decided to stop at a little restaurant with a sheltered garden eating area. We listened to international music, sipping cider, watching the night fall over the stone buildings with their slate rooftops. This has been yet another wonderful day in France. Yes, talk of the next trip has already begun.

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Cider with its own branded cup

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Good night, Dinan. We think you’re terrific.

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