ILLE-ET-VILAINE

FR BRITTANY Brittany coastline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILLE-ET-VILAINE:   1.  Dinard   2.  St Malo   3.   Cancale   4.  Rennes  5. Forêt de Paimpont

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BRITTANY ILLE-ET-VILAINE DinardDinard (pop 10,700) is town named as a “hill bear”, signifying sovereignty. Lying on the Emerald Coast (due to its green waters) Dinard, is a popular summer destination that has been featured in a number of Picasso’s works. Its elegant scenery in summer and tasteful atmosphere in winter has been attracting tourists to the area since the 19th century.

Layout
The town centre is around Avenue Edouard VII and the popular Plage de I’Écluse is at the northeast, framed by Pointe de la Malouine and du Moulinet. The bus station is south at Pl de Newquay and the passenger boat terminal sits at Quai de la Perte.

Sights
Though rich in culture, Dinard loaction means it acts more as a holiday hotspot. Its spaces open up to a myriad of activities during summer, making it a perfectly ‘warm’ host.

FRANCE ILLE-DE-VILAINE Dinard pointe du moulinetThe Promenade de Clair de Lune (Moonlight Promenade) is situated close to the Prieuré beach, presenting waterfront views of the Rance River and the walls of St-Malo. Each summer night (June- September), this area is decorated by a sound-and-light display that illuminates the Mediterranean-like surroundings (full of vegetation and flowerbeds). 

Numerous biking/hiking trails are also available close to the shoreline, between Plage de Prieuré and Plage de St-Énogat. You can stop at the cliffs of Pointe de la Malouine along the way to experience the ruggedness of the sloping coast.

Dinard is connected to St-Malo via the 750m Barrage de la Rance, where you can see the Usine Marémotrice de la Rance – a hydroelectric dam that generates energy by harnessing the whooping tidal difference in the estuary. More information regarding this gizmo is presented in the Espace Découverte [ +33 299163714 Currently closed for renovations] which documents the construction and benefits of the power station.

No mention of Dinard goes without a reference to its grand Plage de I’Écluse otherwise also known as the Grande Plage. It is has been deemed to be the perfect beach getaway, as it is framed by beach hotels, casinos and its iconic blue-white tents. They are also many water sport activities available here, such as windsurfing and diving. Since Plage I’Écluse was once Picasso’s inspiration, many reproductions of his masterpieces are placed in the sand here, during summer.  If you would like to avoid the large crowds, you can also head to Plage de Prieuré down south or the western bound Plage de St-Énogat.

If lazing in the sun has gotten to you, you can make your way to the Centre d’Interprétation de I’Architecture et du Patrimonie [12 r. des Français-Libres F, +33 298468105] to investigate the town’s local history. Sitting in a villa that is named after Napoleon III’s wife- Eugénie de Montijo, the museum focuses on life in Dinard between the 19th and 20th centuries, when numerous British and American aristocrats arrived here (e.g. Winston Churchill). 

 

DINARD:   1.  Tourist office   2.  Promenade de Clair de Lune   3.  Pointe de la Malouine   4.  Plage de l’Écluse 5.  Barrage de la Rance power station (outside map limits: scroll map to right)

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BRITTANY st maloOriginally a fortified island in the 12th century, St-Malo (pop 49,600) later became a notorious base for merchants and pirates alike, in the 17th century. Often declaring itself Malouin, St-Malo had always attempted to stay autonomous from France, until it became a French commune in 1967. Its historic walled city (built from the same granite as Mont St-Michel), lively port and dramatic landscape has made it a popular summer destination for many (especially those who flock from across the English Channel). About 80% of the area was destroyed in 1944, during WWII. So, what you see today, are rather accurate restorations of the original St-Malo city.

Layout
St Malo comprises of the towns of St-Malo, St-Servan, Paramé and Pothéneuf. The old walled city (Intra-Muros/Ville Close) is located on the north, at the end of Av Louis Martin. You can arrive via ferries, south of the walled city, at Gare Maritime du Naye or west of it, via train, just off Jean-Coquelin.

Sights
The principal attraction of St-Malo, is the walled city, which is linked to the mainland by a network of causeways. The city’s ramparts were built in the 17th century by Vauban (military engineer) and some houses withstood the bombings. The city unveils the life of the privateers (aka pirates) in the land, along with other architectural gems like the Cathédrale St-Vincent [12 Rue Saint-Benoist, +33 299408231] and the Château St-Malo [Place Chateaubriand, +22 299407157] which houses a museum [ad/ch €5.20/2.60] inside.

Other sights in and around St-Malo, are the 4 beaches, the interesting Grand Aquarium [Rue du Général Patton, +33 299211900 www.aquarium-st-malo.com ad/ch €15.50/9.50] and the nearby Île du Grand Bé- a rocky islet that reveals itself when the tides are low.


ST MALO:   1.  Tourist office   2.  Cathédrale St-Vincent   3.  Château St-Malo   4.  Grand Aquarium (south of map limits)  5.  Train station  

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INTRAMUROS:   1.  Tourist office   2.  Cathédrale St-Vincent   3.  Château St-Malo   4.  Grand Aquarium   5.  Train station 

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FRANCE ILLE-DE-VILAINE cancale sous la brumeCancale is a small fishing town that is famous for its oysters. Sitting east of St-Malo, the town’s oysters have been savoured and favoured by royalties such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon and Louis XIV. Dubbed the ‘oyster capital’ of Brittany, Cancale also features a busy town square and a pretty port.

 
Pointe de Grouin

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ointe de Grouin is a nature reserve set on a headland between St-Malo and Cancale. Its rocky outcrops, wild flowers and the adjacent Île des Landes (a bird sanctuary that sheathes giant cormorants) make it a good hiking destination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CANCALE:   1. Marché aux Huîtres (oyster market)  2. Pointe de Grouin 

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FRANCE ILLE-DE-VILAINE rennes

Owing to its strategic location, Rennes (pop 210,500), the capital of Brittany, has seen high human traffic in the area, since the Roman times. By 9th century AD, the city became part of the Breton Kingdom and was included in its capital region as well. Today, Rennes has merged its traditional atmosphere with modernity well, at is functions as a student city, holding close to 60 000 students in its twisting medieval streets and interlocking canal networks.

Layout
The city centre is divided horizontally by the La Vilaine River. The northern area holds the old city, while the southern part is modernised, with the bus and train stations located at Place de la Gare.

Sights
The Old City of Rennes is a monument itself, as what you see today is only half of what used to stand in those grounds. In 1720, much of Rennes was destroyed in a big fire, which was started by a drunken carpenter! The half-timbered houses that stand along rue St-Michel (also referred to as the Thirsty Street, due to its prolific pubs and bars) and rue St Georges were lucky to escape the catastrophe. At the end of rue St Georges, lies the old parliament house of Brittany, which functions as the current Court of Appeal. This historic place housed the rebellious Bretagne government in the past. West of the parliament, stand the iconic church of the old city- Cathédrale St-Pierre [Carrefour de la Cathédrale] which was built in the 17th century, housing a mesmerising neoclassical interior.

BRITTANY ILLE-ET-VILAINE Rennes place du parlement de bretagneLike any city’s capital, Rennes also houses more than one museum within its perimeters. The city’s art museum- Musée des Beaux Arts [20 Quai Emile Zola, +33 223621745   www.mbar.org ad/ch €5.72/Free] holds exhibitions of artworks and artefacts in the area, with rooms specially dedicated to the Pont-Aven School, an art movement, founded by Paul Gaugin and Emile Bernard, that focused on the Breton countryside. Rennes also has a cultural centre, Champs Libre [10 Cours des Alliés], which houses the Musée de Bretagne [ +33 223406670  www.musee-bretagne.fr/ ad/ch €10/7 (combined ticket)] that focuses on Breton history and culture and the Espace des Sciences [+33 223406640  www.espace-sciences.org]- a science museum that comprises of a planetarium.

If you pop by Rennes in June or July, you will be able to participate in its notable festivals such as Les Mercredis du Thabor [www.rennes.fr] – held every Wednesday throughout the month, celebrating traditional Breton dances and music and the Tombées de la Nuit [www.lestombeesdelanuit.com/] – a music and theatre festival that is held at night, lighting up the old city in July.

 


RENNES1.  Place de la République  2.
rue St-Michel (Thirsty Street)  3. rue St Georges  4. Old Parliamanet House (current Court of Appeal)  5. Cathédrale St-Pierre  6. Musée des Beaux Arts  7. Champs Libre (Musée de Bretagne & Espace des Sciences)  

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 The Paimpont Forest is also known as the legendary Brocéliande- the forest where Arthur received the powerful Excalibur sword. However, since these stories were brought ashore by Celtic settlers, their authenticity is debatable. Nonetheless, this 7000 ha forest, still offers visitors some magical greenery, with its ancient trees, moors, streams and intriguing stones (e.g. Merlin’s tomb) which are best explored on foot/bike. Venues such as the Église Abbatiale in the nearby Paimpont village hold brochures on the various biking/hiking trails in the forest. Try sticking to these tracks, as you can easily trespass into private land.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ILLE-ET-VILAINE:   1.  Dinard   2.  St Malo   3.   Cancale   4.  Rennes  5. Forêt de Paimpont  

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