In northwestern France you will find the medieval town of Dinan, it is most well-known for its pretty cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and historic ramparts. The beautifully preserved city is situated right next to the River Rance, the ideal location for a scenic walk or a mouth-watering meal at a riverside restaurant. Time appears to have stood still in Dinan, almost though you have been transported back to the Middle Ages. Enjoy stunning views of the town from the local Clock Tower or admire the unbelievable architecture of The Basilica of Saint-Sauveur on your day of exploration. There is so much rich history to be uncovered and it is only a short 35 minutes’ drive from St Malo. For the best things to do in Dinan France read our insiders’ guide below!
Walk along the medieval Dinan fortifications which were built in the 13th century and weave for 3 km around the Old Town. Admire the breathtaking panoramic views and experience the fascinating examples of military architecture firsthand. Ten of the fourteen guard towers remain, and four monumental gates are still standing. Make sure to wear sensible shoes as a lot of the walk is cobbled and can be slippery.
Character and charm ooze from the old town, the exceptional architecture and warren narrow streets transform you back in time. Head to Place des Merciers to find the finest examples of the renowned half-timbered houses, this can be found parallel to Rue de la Cordonnerie. The quarter reflects what it was like to live in the Middle Ages as it is one of the most well-conserved medieval towns in France.
For an unrivalled example of flamboyant Gothic and Romanesque architecture visit The Basilica of Saint-Sauveur. Construction began in the early 12th century with the oldest parts of the church still in place, rebuilding presumed in 1480. In the north transept, you will find the 14th-century tombstone of the famous knight, Bertrand Du Guesclin. The remarkable stained-glass illuminates the interior and when the sun hits, the light splits into a thousand jewels across the basilica.
The striking 14th-century château consists of a keep which has been transformed into a museum dedicated to the history of the courageous town. The château has a self-guided tour that takes you through the building where you can learn all about the history. Appreciate the views from the top of the château’s tower where you’ll get incredible views across the town. The historic site is connected to the ramparts which surround the old town.
Brave the 158 steps of the Tour de l’Horloge, located in the older quarter of Dinan, to experience some remarkable views across the walled town. The top of the clock tower is 40m high and on a clear day, you can ever get a glimpse of Mont St Michel. Every 15-minutes you can experience the notable chiming of the 15th-century clock.
The cobbled streets of Rue du Jerzual have been there since around the 12th century and are lined with incredible period houses. The downhill street ends up at the old bridge and river where it becomes Rue du Petit Fort when it approaches the water. The street is full of shops, cafes, building and monuments to keep you entertained, as walking is the best way to explore Dinan.
The Gothic-style church was rebuilt in the 15th century after being destroyed during the war and was eventually finished in the 19th century. The 20th-century stained-glass represent different religious subjects and events, shining a colourful light through the nave of the church. It is one of the most impressive attractions in Dinan and should not be missed on your break away.
Enjoy a walk around the courtyard and cloister then marvel at the impressive 15th-century Gothic porch. Most of the building work was undertaken during the 14th and 15th centuries and since 1804 the monument has been a place of private Catholic education. Stumble across this hidden gem whilst walking through the medieval streets, you’ll find it at 1, Place des Cordeliers.
Dinan is well-known for its arts and culture and was crowned ville d'art et histoire (town of art and history) in 1985. Since then they have promoted and preserved their artistic treasures. Dinan is full of creative individuals from glassblowers to sculptors to artists to engravers and so on, whose work is sold and presented in galleries around the town. To experience the artistic scene head to Rue du Petit-Fort or attend the market at Centre Ville every Thursday morning.
Every other year in July, Dinan holds the Fête des Remparts with its appropriate theme being the Middle Ages. You will feel as though you have been transported back into the medieval times as the people of Dinan dress up in period costume. There is a variety of events to see including the large medieval market and parade. For some colourful fun that can be enjoyed by the whole family head to Dinan during the Fête des Remparts.
There is a fantastic selection of hotels and accommodation in Dinan both centrally located and, on the outskirts, depending on what you prefer. If you prefer a home away from home you can settle down in a self-catering apartment, villa or bed & breakfast for ultimate freedom. Whatever you are after, we can guarantee that our recommendations below will provide you with all the best options!
In the heart of the medieval town, you’ll find the elegant Renaissance-style Hotel Arvor. The boutique hotel has 24 rooms and suites, it is the ideal accommodation for a short break away. Wi-Fi, room service and bicycle hire are all available, you can even bring your pet along too as dogs and cats are accepted!
The incredible resort accommodation looks over the picturesque River Rance and is centrally located. All comfortable rooms are equipped with Wi-Fi, a satellite TV and an ensuite. You will also find a gym, spa and outdoor pool at the hotel. If you are after some delicious regional food their stylish restaurant should be added to your list of restaurants to visit.
This 3-star hotel is situated opposite Place Duguesclin and is one of Dinan’s oldest hotels. The accommodation offers a selection of spacious rooms, suites and apartments depending on your party size, all of which are reasonably priced. On the ground floor is the adjoining restaurant Le Longueville, serving regional specialities in a contemporary setting.
This gorgeous boutique hotel offers charm and comfort. The hotel is located in a quieter part of Dinan and boasts a wonderful view of their blossoming garden. There are 21 rooms and 3 family suites available all equipped with Wi-Fi and a TV. In the morning, a delicious breakfast awaits you, and there is also a bar and tea room to settle down with a drink after a day of exploring.
Otherwise known as the Hotel of Clock Tower due to its impressive view of the monument from their windows. The small hotel is in the heart of Dinan and is in close proximity to popular landmarks. This is a great budget-friendly option and right next door you will find Creperie de la Tour, which serves the most incredible crepes. There is free Wi-Fi available and public parking nearby.
Built-in the 15th century, this is a typical example of a classic wood timbered house in Dinan. There are 5 gorgeous bedrooms available that overlook either the garden of the square. Each bedroom has its own entrance, ensuite and a flat-screen TV. In the morning you can settle down for a lavish breakfast in the dining room and admire the beautiful garden views.
The luxurious B&B has two large rooms available to ensure that guests have a comfortable and personalized experience during their stay. Both the rooms have separate access and an ensuite, flat-screen tv, coffee machine and unlimited Wi-Fi. Both rooms offer a unique charm and have different views, either of the garden or the main square in Dinan.
The gorgeous villa was built in 1915 and has 5 unique guest rooms, some of which have a private spa or jacuzzi bathtub. Within the luxurious mansion, there is a well-being area which includes a sauna and massage room. For ultimate serenity, relaxation and romanticism there is no better place to stay.
On Rue du Petit Fort you will find Le Rempart du Jerzual, a beautiful guesthouse with unbelievable views of their personal garden and city. Each of the 5 bedrooms has free Wi-Fi, an ensuite and a selection of toiletries. Every morning a delicious buffet breakfast is available, the perfect way to start your day out in Dinan.
This B&B will provide an experience like no other, it is surrounded by a sea on greenery and has a heated swimming pool, jacuzzi and sun terrace to relax the day away. This accommodation is not centrally located, it can be found on the outskirts of Dinan, 2.5 km from the train station. There are 6 contemporary bedrooms available, all equipped with an ensuite and Wi-Fi. Complimentary breakfast is provided.
200 yards from Dinan castle you will find Villa Tourelle. The garden is a perfect haven as you have access to the outdoor swimming pool and can relax on the shaded terrace whilst admiring the castle views. There are 4 bedrooms/ apartments available each with a private patio, ensuite and satellite TV. Complimentary continental breakfast is included.
If you are travelling with your family by car a holiday home may be your ideal choice as there is free parking nearby. The house comes with a kitchen, seating area, dining area and satellite TV. The two-bedroom house is centrally located, and extra beds can be added upon request. It is perfect for ultimate freedom and a home away from home experience.