During my stay in Rennes during the long Easter (and birthday!) weekend, I also had the opportunity to visit nearby cities in the Brittany region, including Saint Malo and Dinan. Although I only passed a day in both towns, they were quite lovely, despite the weather. In fact, as my Couchsurfing host “Andrew,” a born-and-raised Breton, had told me, the Brittany region is always beautiful, regardless of whether it’s rainy or sunny- that’s quite impressive! 😀
Any case, we surprised ourselves by waking up early in the morning, leaving the house by 9h00 to head out to Saint Malo, our first destination. Andrew was kind enough to take me in his car, despite the fact that he had told me that it’s not very powerful (it was a relatively old car). But things went smoothly on our forty-five minute drive over from Rennes, and we arrived there close to 10h00.
We started by walking along the city walls, as Saint Malo is, in fact, a medieval, walled city. Reminded me a bit of Avignon (also a walled city) back when I had visited in early March, except colder and drizzling. Andrew and I walked along the walls, along the sea which was an amazing cerulean color; I had never seen anything quite like it before, as it was not the same color as that of Normandy (which tends to be more grey and gloomier). Really, it was a mesmerizing color… ❤
After a tour around the city walls, we descended down into the old town center, where it was quite touristy with the boutiques, crêperies (serving plenty of galettes, of course), and boulangeries selling kouign amanns, which are a Breton pastry that is layered with sugar and butter, like a really heavy, round Danish pastry. I didn’t have them there, but got some back in Rennes- they were super rich, but quite good!
Popped into la Mère Poulard, a famous shop known for making traditional Breton biscuits and cookies. In fact, I had seen it at le Mont St. Michel, since the island is not so far from Brittany. I tasted a couple of different biscuits at the shop, before deciding to buy a box of apple-flavored ones as a souvenir.
Andrew and I wandered some more around the old town, getting some homemade ice cream at a shop that he had highly recommended to me. I tried the réglisse-flavored ice cream, which was…interesting. I didn’t know what the translation for it in English was, so I had to guess what it was exactly- tasted like a cross between coffee and mint. Very interesting! Wasn’t until later that I Google’d the translation, and found out that it’s licorice flavor! Considering that I’m not a huge fan of licorice, it was not a surprise that I was ambivalent about the ice cream (but what an experience, eh?).
We headed out of Saint Malo right after that, taking the car over to Dinan, another small and walled town in Brittany. Didn’t spend a ton of time there, due to 1) the weather, which started to pour on-and-off, and 2) there didn’t appear to be as many things to see as in Saint Malo, personally speaking. Nevertheless, we wandered along the Duchess Anne’s Tower, before making our way into the old town center and grabbing a bite to eat as we went over to check out the view of the Rance River, with a nice aqueduct down below.
Our final stop was at the Château de Dinan, which I paid 2,50 euros to visit. Not a bad price, especially when the castle surprised me with its multi-leveled floors, stairs, and little rooms within rooms. While it’s not as extravagant as Blarney Castle in Ireland or Windsor Castle in England, the Château de Dinan wasn’t too shabby. 😛
By 15h00, we left Dinan after almost two hours of exploring the town (again, not a ton to do in Dinan), heading back to Rennes. Took about an hour, perhaps an hour and a half to get back, as Andrew was not really sure on the direction, thus ending up taking the longer way back. I dozed off a bit in the car, somewhat tired from the full day of exploring. We arrived back in Rennes around 16h00-16h30 where we rested for a couple of hours, resting up before heading out that night to a soirée.
…and that was my day trip to two other cities in Brittany! Before, I was really unsure if I would have been able to add an extra town (Dinan) to the itinerary, especially when the trip to Saint Malo would have taken a good part of the day. But I managed to make it out to both, and I really do have to thank Andrew for making it happen, with his car and knowledge of the Brittany region. Super cool (and chill!) Couchsurfing host!
All right, more to come tomorrow! Look out for it really soon! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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