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Head behind the Basilica of Saint-Sauveur (a very short walk from the centre of town) for the most remarkable views over the river. Afterwards visit the church (12th-15th century) to discover a legend. Saint-Sauveur Basilica holds the heart of a French hero - Bertrand du Guesclin. Born in Brittany about 1320, it’s said he was so ugly his family disowned him. He became a soldier and when Dinan was besieged by the English in the 100 Years War he defended the town with his brother Olivier. An English soldier, Sir Thomas Canterbury, kidnapped and ransomed the unarmed Olivier when he took a walk in the countryside and Du Guesclin fought for the return of his brother. He won and the English withdrew their forces. He later became a Constable of France (military leader) which some Bretons considered a traitorous move because Brittany was not part of France at the time and they were often at war. Du Guesclin requested that when he died he be buried in Dinan. But his remains were taken to the Basilica of St Denis in Paris where French Royals were interred. though his heart, was taken to Dinan. It’s position is marked with a gold heart. In front of the Basilica is a square with a few bars and restaurants, it’s a quieter part of Dinan, largely frequented by the locals as visitors don’t know it’s here. Boat trip on the river Rance One of the prettiest places in Dinan is the port area. Ancient stone houses, shops and bars look onto the lofty Lanvalley-Dinan Viaduct which was inaugurated in 1852. Hop aboard the Jaman V boat to cruise the river Rance. You can buy tickets at the tourist office or the ticket kiosk when its open – it’s at a brown cube like hut, next to les Terraces restaurant at the bottom of rue du Petit Fort.
This hour long trip will take you under the viaduct and down to the little town of Léhon. An audio guide is available in English and full of fun facts such as how donkeys used to pull the barges along, but when one wasn’t available, the boatmen’s wives would have to do it! The riverbank is filled with flowers and fauna, including an exotic Japanese plant which looks like a giant rhubarb. First planted in 1917 by a gardener from Léhon, it has colonised the banks of the river. You can also take a boat to and from Saint Malo to Dinan, or a dinner cruise. Details: vedettesjamanv.com Take a wander to neighbouring Léhon Walk to the peaceful little village of Léhon along the riverbanks of the Rance from Dinan which takes around 30 minutes. Léhon is a classified “town of Character” first settled by the Roman army 2000 years ago. In fact it’s much older than Dinan which was only founded around 1000 years ago. It’s a very pretty little town and worth visiting to see the 12th century castle ruins – allegedly the oldest castle in Brittany, and the Abbey Saint-Magloire. Legend has it that Welsh monks arrived here in the 9th century and, wanting to settle, asked the King of Brittany for land. He required them to bring him some relics to place in the church they intended to build. In a remarkably un-Christian display, they looted the relics from monks on the island of Sark and returned triumphant with their spoils to claim the land. The abbey architecture dates to the 11th century onwards. Don’t miss the little tower by the river in which monks were allowed to drink a glass of wine and smoke a pipe on Sundays. Regular art exhibitions are hosted here and there are pretty gardens.
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