Travels

Saint-Malo and Dinan

Wednesday 13 June

A short trip from Mont-Saint-Michel brought me to another walled town, Saint-Malo.

The modern town spreads around the bay,

but the walled town sits like a pearl in the oyster.

Rebuilt after significant damage during the war, it’s very much of a piece. It’s possible to do a full circuit of the walls and look outward to the beaches,

in many places with tree trunks embedded to keep ships at bay at high tide,

and to the islands,

some of which have religious buildings on,

and all were used as artillery emplacements by the Germans, which made taking the town even more dangerous.

Looking into the town,

the streets are narrow,

and contain other fortifications.

It would make a great pirate town, which is what it was. Saint-Malo was a law unto itself, with a nod from the government, and corsairs, like Robert Surcouf here,

made fortunes capturing valuable ships. Not something the French are embarrassed about – they named their biggest WW2 submarine Surcouf after him.

The old town is pleasant to walk around but it’s the walls which carry it’s roguish history,

and the wow factor.

Saint-Malo is very much a working port and was celebrating a new navy ship,

with a bit of Breton pipe,

music I’m quite partial to, which is just as well as I’m now hearing it everywhere.

It was only mid-afternoon. I saw no point in hanging around Saint-Malo so pushed on for nearby Dinan.

I found a pitch overlooked by this ruined castle,

The day of sunshine and showers was tending towards sunshine so I locked up and climbed the hill to what I thought was Dinan castle.

It was a pleasant enough area with a view down to the Abbey,

but also to Dinan castle!

Always useful to have a spare, I suppose. I’d had a late lunch on leaving Saint-Malo so decided to make the most of the evening. I descended the other side and swung by the Abbey,

then walked the couple of kilometres into the town. The castle

was closed for renovations,

but it definitely looked like a castle.

Dinan is another walled town,

but in contrast to Saint-Malo,

though the walls are impressive,

the streets of the town are the big draw.

Half-timbered houses

overhang cobbled streets,

that meander down to the river port.

The tightly packed medieval town

was a delightful curiosity full of good quality art shops, all the better for being quiet. As thunder rattled overhead, I wasn’t worried about getting wet; I’d enjoyed an intriguing bit of time travel.

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