Dinan shouldn’t be confused with Dinard. Although they sound similar, one is a lovely little Breton town near Saint-Malo, while the other is a lovely little Breton town near Saint-Malo.
After leaving Perros-Guirec, we passed through the oyster fishing port of Saint-Brieuc, navigating through road closures, cobbled streets and a few one way signs that were almost certainly pointing in the wrong direction, before arriving at our hotel for the night, Hotel Arvor. I was going to stay the hotel room certainly wouldn’t win any prizes, but a quick search online suggests it already has. Perhaps it just wasn’t to my taste to have a browning oil painting of the captain of the Titanic hanging over the bed.
Dinan is an extremely photogenic place, looking like something out of a medieval drama. Nicola spent a reasonable amount of time comparing it to Totnes, which can only mean Totnes is equally lovely. We wandered around the streets, admiring the timbered buildings before descending the picturesque rue de Jerzual towards the River Rance. In the valley, Nicola had a photo in front of the river (her surname is Ranson; people call her Rance), then we stopped in at a little bakery to sample some of the local gateau Breton, a delicious crumbly frangipane pastry.
In the evening, we managed to get a table at La Fleur de Sel, which TV chef Rachel Khoo had recommended. As Rachel pointed out in her review, La Fleur de Sel has ‘a slightly eccentric menu, dabbling in creative dishes whilst remaining regional in feel’. In Nicola’s unfortunate case, the eccentricity came in the form of tripe. Nicola was specifically asked by the maître d’ if she wanted the tripe, and she nodded enthusiastically. Once she had tucked into her ‘tripe and chicken pie’, she was less enthusiastic and spent a significant portion of the evening constructing complex structures of remaining pastry to hide the tripe from the waiter. I opted for a beef cheek stew which was delicious and definitely didn’t come with a side of stomach lining.
As we were packing up to leave Dinan, I had a text from Brittany Ferries explaining that Storm Brian was brewing out in the English Channel, so our ferry would instead be departing from Cherbourg, a 250-mile diversion from Saint-Malo. This meant the next morning we would have a cold early start, dark roads and a long motorway drive; three things that are not best suited to the MG. But against all odds, and other than a bit of spluttering due to some cheap fuel, the MG got back to the ferry without a hitch. One of these days I’m sure there’ll be a story from the hard shoulder. One day, but not just yet.