The town of Dinan is about 50 kilometers north of Rennes. Dinan is located on a hill above the river Rance, which flows into the sea at St-Malo. On a boat trip on the Rance you can visit both cities.
Dinan has around 14,000 inhabitants and offers a historic old town with beautiful half-timbered houses in the Rue de l'Horloge and the Place des Cordeliers. Worth a visit is also the castle built in the 14th century. The picture-book town is surrounded by a 2.6-kilometer-long city wall. The most famous building in Dinan is the Tour de l'Horloge. Another attraction is the gothic church Saint-Malo. Rue du Jerzual, with its traditional artisan workshops, leads to the small port of Dinan with its cafes and restaurants.
St-Malo is the most beautiful harbor town on the French Channel coast. The city with about 46,000 people was built on a peninsula to be protected against attacks from land. In the 12th century, Saint-Malo was surrounded by a medieval city wall, which was fortified in the 17th century. At the northeastern edge of the city wall, Queen Anne de Bretagne had the château built in 1500 to control the defiant population of St-Malo. She had the words "Quic en groigne, ainsi, sera, car tel est mon plaisir" carved on a tower. In English: Who wants to grunt, should grumble, I don't care! The locals call the castle simply "Quic en groigne".
From Saint-Malo, corsairs set sail for hijacking English freighters. They had a coroner's letter from the French government and gave the state a share of the profit. Around 1700, Saint-Malo was the main port of France. The most famous corsair was Robert Surcouf. A statue on the city wall is dedicated to Jacques Cartier, who explored the Saint Lawrence River in 1535.
During the Second World War, Saint-Malo was destroyed by British bombers because the German commander did not want to surrender. After the war, St-Malo was reconstructed after historical photos and today looks like a 17th-century town.
Jacques Cartier who explored the St. Lawrence River and thus pave the way for the French colony of New France was born in Rothéneuf. The Indian settlements Stadacona near Quebec and Hochelaga on Mont Real were discovered by Jacques Cartier.
The sights of Rothéneuf are the weathered stone heads called Les Rochers Sculptés, by the priest Abbé Fouré at the rocky coast. Fouré was paralyzed half-sided since his 30th year. He created bizarre fantasy characters until he died in 1910 at the age of 71. The granite sculptures are on a private property, you have to pay a small amount of money as entrance fee.
The village of Rothéneuf is located about 6 kilometers northeast of St-Malo.
Saint Lunaire is located west of St-Malo, on the other side of the Rance estuary. The small coastal town has two wide sandy beaches. The main beach is at Rue de la Grève, where you will also find the Grand Hotel, the Tourist Office and the town center of Saint Lunaire. Who wants to see a spectacular sunset should visit the Plage de Longchamp. The beach is oriented to the northwest and offers a romantic sunset in the summer. Above the beach stands a german bunker from the Second World War. Saint Lunaire is a quiet town that does not seem to be crowded even in midsummer.
The Cap Frehel is one of the most famous places in Brittany. The 70 m high rocks offers a beautiful view over the cliffs. From the Phare du Cap Frehel (lighthouse), the view is even more spectacular. At Cap Frehel there is the bird cliff La Fauconnière, where puffins and other seabirds have settled. If you like, you can hike along the coast to Fort La Latte. The coastal walk on a narrow path is about 8 kilometers long.
The small coastal town of Cancale is located about 12 kilometers east of Saint Malo. Shells are bred in the shallow bay. There is a market on the waterfront where you can buy fresh shells and seafood. At the port there are also numerous restaurants famous for their fresh mussels.
Northwest of Perros-Guirec, the Côte de Granit Rose extends until Trébeurden. Pink rock formations gave their name to the enchanting coastline. No visitor to Brittany should miss this beautiful coastline. The Côte de Granit Rose is considered to be the most beautiful landscape in Brittany. The bizarre rocks change their color depending on the light. The section between the Plage de Trestraou in Perros-Guirec and the beach of Saint-Guirec is the highlight of the Côte de Granit Rose. Here is a coastal path on which you can walk through the bizarre rocky landscape. This part is also called Sentier des Douaniers (publicans path). The reddish granite was sanded down by wind and water, of course the most famous rock is the "Hat of Napoleon" and the Château du Diable (Devil's Castle).
The port city of Paimpol became famous for fishing. The novel "The Icelandic Fishermen" by Julien Viaud played in the streets of Paimpol. A road was even named after the Icelandic fishing grounds Rue des Islandais Grundarfjordur. From 1935 onward the fishing industrie declined and the fishing port became a marina for tourists. The harbor is still the center of Paimpol, here are the restaurants, cafes, bakers and butchers, young ladies from Paris and the old gentlemens from Paimpol stroll along the basin. The most beautiful corner of the city is the intersection where Rue des Huit Patriotes meets Rue de la Vieille Poissonnerie (photo).
About 5 kilometers north of Paimpol is the Point de l'Arouest, the end point of the peninsula. From here you can catch the ferry to the rugged Île de Bréhat, which is only 2 kilometers away. The beach at the Point de l'Arouest is very rocky, at low tide you can see rocks everywhere in the water. Some rocks have acquired an intense yellow color due to lichen growth.
Vitré is located about 35 kilometers east of Rennes, on the way to Paris. The small town has about 18,000 inhabitants, but looks very sleepy. This is probably due to the large shopping centers Vitré has built on the outskirts. Most of the shops are in Rue de la Poterie. But you do not come here for shopping but for the grandiose castle. The castle of Vitré was built around the year 1000 and was enlarged in the 13th century to its present form. During this time, the old town of Vitré with church and city walls was built. The castle was built on a triangular site, with a large courtyard. In the 16th century, the castle was expanded into a castle. The Chateau Vité is one of the most beautiful medieval castles in France.
The Mont Saint Michel is one of the most famous sights of France. The Mont Saint Michel is located about 60 kilometers to the north of Rennes in Normandy. Since this sight is overrun by millions of visitors, you should plan the visit if you want to stay overnight. We have summarized more detailed information in a special about Mont Saint Michel.
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Excursions around Rennes
Rennes is the capital of Brittany and lies inland. But the most beautiful landscapes of Brittany are on the coast. The distances are low, the sea is less than 60 kilometers away. If you want, you can make day trips to the coast or to other local attractions from Rennes. The regiopia guide Brittany shows you the most interesting places around Rennes.