15-16 July – Rest days in Dinan

We love Dinan so much, and our accommodation here is so comfy, that we decided to spend an extra day.

This is one of the towns with the most historic and natural beauty we have found (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinan). The medieval city is large and enclosed by the most extensive ramparts we have seen so far. You can walk along them. As the city is on a hill, you look down from the ramparts onto the Dinan port, viaduct bridge, river and farmlands below.

The medieval city itself is full of stone and wooden frame houses, mostly tourist shops, créperies and bars. There is also a castle on the ramparts. The Basilica of Saint-Sauveur was first constructed in the 12th century by a knight returning from the crusades. The is also a church of Saint Malo (15th century) that has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows we have seen.

We went down to the Dinan port on Sunday afternoon to see part of the ‘Nautical Jousting’ contest. Opposing boats were propelled towards each other by six oarsmen. Each boat had a platform attached on which a jouster stands with a lance. As the boats pass each other, the two jousters try to knock each other off with the lance. This continues until one falls in the water. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Jousting for photos).

There was a carnaval atmosphere with the opposing teams in fancy dress – there were blue smurfs and also snow white and the seven dwalves. Loud music played as the boats faced each other off and the results were announced by a master of ceremonies. The contestants were in good spirits, drinking beer and dancing on the sidelines. In between the jousting there were also races on inflated inner tubes. We enjoyed some crépes and cider from a charity food stall.

We took a short ride out to the nearby port of Lyvet on Monday. Just before the port, there is a small sign saying “Menhir” pointing down a farm track. We went to have a look and found a large menhir sitting at a slant in the ground in a field. There was a sign in English that explained that it was dated to 2500-3000BC. There were indistinct markings carved on it. The local legend it that this is one of three menhirs that block the entry to Hell.

Port Lyvet has a mariner which is entered via a lock – this was created because the river is tidal. We enjoyed watching 4 yachts exit the lock. Part of the road bridge over the river swings out when the lock opens to allow the masted yachts to pass through.

We found a good bike track back to Dinan port, through a nature reserve alongside the river.

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