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St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

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Christchurch
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St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

We have two full days to spend in the St Malo, Dinard and Dinan towns and areas. Is this too much time? I get the impression from other threads that Mont St Michel and St Malo can be both seen in one day. We have already allocated the previous day for MSM.

It appears that there are several routes that can be taken to both Dinard and Dinan from St Malo. Which would be the most scenic drives and are there any interesting scenic villages to visit on the way or nearby?

Paris, France
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11. Re: St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

If you leave Bayeux at say 9:00 to head to MSM it is about a 1-1/2 hour drive putting you there at about 10:30. This is right at the time the place starts filling up and it is likely to get packed in early June. The best times to visit MSM are first thing in the morning (be there at 9AM) or later in the afternoon (get there about 4PM). I would say most people spend between 2-3 hours on the Mont including a visit to the abbey but not including any sit down restaurant meals. The abbey closes at 7PM in June with the last admission at 6PM.

If you go to MSM first thing in the morning there are a few options of things to do afterwards before heading to Saint-Malo. You could visit the lovely medieval town o Fougères which has an impressive medieval fortress and an old town (45 min. drive south from MSM):

http://www.ot-fougeres.fr/accueil

And then afterwards you could head to Saint-Malo (about a 1 hour 15 min. drive from Fougères).

If you want to visit MSM in the afternoon then you might make a scenic drive through the Normandy countryside in a region known as Suisse-Normande, in the vicinity of the towns Aunay, Thury-Harcourt and Clécy:

www.otourisme.com/otv2-sn/…

Time permitting you might also be able to squeeze in a visit of Villedieu-les-Poêles:

http://www.ot-villedieu.fr/index.htm

I suppose you could also visit Fougères first and then visit MSM before heading to Saint-Malo.

On your first full day you can visit Saint-Malo and Dinard. I think you could also have time to do a coastal drive on the scenic road from Saint-Malo to Point du Grouin and on to Cancale. Maybe you could save Cancale for the end of the day and have dinner there (think oysters) before heading back to Saint-Malo.

On your second full day head west along the coast to visit Fort-la-Latte and the adjacent scenic coastline of Cap Fréhel. One possibility after Cap Fréhel would be to head on to Dinan, or even start the day with a visit to Dinan and then head to Cap Fréhel. Regardless, between these two areas

you could either visit the town of Lamballe:

http://www.lamballe-tourisme.com/

Or you might take a chance and get lost in the countryside in this area. I'm looking at my map and although I've never explored this area I see some scenic roads and a few châteaux ruins between Lamballe and Dinan, just south of a village called Plancoët (which may be worth a visit). A few other villages you might pass through if exploring the countryside would be Ploven, Plorec, Borseul and Courseul. Use the tips I gave you about exploring with the Michelin maps and you might just find some lovely countryside and small villages in this area that I doubt anyone has ever visited.

With your third day if you have seen Dinan then stop there before you go to Rennes. I would think 1-3 hours here is standard. Depends if you want the quick look tour or the leisure stroll. If you've already seen Dinan then I would go directly to Rennes and walk around the old town for a bit. Rennes is certainly worth a visit:

http://www.tourisme-rennes.com/

I suppose there are still lots of other options I haven't listed but others can make those and fill in the blanks. This should get you started.

Christchurch
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12. Re: St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

Thank you French_Mystiq.., the time you have taken to list all those options is much appreciated. You have given us a lot of useful ideas to consider.

After talking to DH we have decided that we like your suggestion of visiting MSM in the late afternoon so as to take the scenic drive and town visits on the way. It would be nice not to have to rush straight to MSM and miss other interesting places on the way.

On MSM's website it says that the abbey has the last admission at 6pm, as you have already said, but makes no mention of what time the museums or other parts of MSM (excluding restaurants) close. Does this mean that we can still wander around areas other than the abbey after 7pm, should we wish to do so? Or is the place pretty much locked up once the abbey closes?

Val-de-Marne, France
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13. Re: St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

> "Does this mean that we can still wander around areas other than the abbey after 7pm, should we wish to do so?"

Of course. Mont Saint-Michel is a village so just like any other village it does not close down after a certain hour. It is very small though with one main street leading up to the abbey and only a few side alleys + the ramparts. Once you exit the abbey and proceed to walk back down, restaurants will start serving dinner. No one goes to Mont St Michel for the food which is rather mediocre but as long as you don't set your expectations too high you can certainly enjoy a quick dinner there before walking along the ramparts at sunset. The museums will be closed in the evening but like most visitors I have never visited any of them on my numerous visits to the Mont so they are not a must-do activity.

Our best memories have been visiting Mont Saint-Michel at night. It's just magical when you practically have the streets and ramparts to yourself. I just don't know how the new shuttle service starting in April will affect visiting the Mont at night since motorists will no longer be allowed to drive to it and will have to park their cars on the mainland and then either take one of the shuttles or walk.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g196646-i946-k4950…

Christchurch
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14. Re: St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

Thanks for that, I didn't realise it was a village. I thought it was a kind of monument that closed after business hours like museums, etc. Being able to wander around after the abbey and museums have closed will be handy but I don't know about staying up until 11pm to view the lights. I usually flag out long before that on holiday lol.

Just our luck that we arrive not long after they change the access and car parking arrangements lol. Hopefully the teething problems will be sorted by then. Will have to keep an eye on the forums to check progress.

Paris, France
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15. Re: St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

Yes, I imagine that by the time you get here people will have a good idea how the whole shuttle system will be operating so you should have plenty of advanced warning on how to plan your trip. Be sure to get those Michelin maps I mentioned since they will be vital to exploring the countryside. Use the tips I gave about reading the icons to plan interesting and scenic drives.

On the topic of a GPS I have never used one but I do think they are a good thing to have for foreigners. Where they are useful is when you enter cities and large towns because the maps don't show the local roads. But for general countryside exploring at random they are more or less useless, unless you hve programmed in certain destinations. They may tell you how to get from place to place but they won't tell you what you could see along the way.

Here's a last piece of general advice for you in doing your research. You should google some of the town/tourist office websites for any towns you may want to visit. You will find loads of info on these websites including hotel/accommodation and restaurant info as well as what to see and do in the area. Occasionally the websites have English versions. In doing a google search enter the name of your town followed by the words "site officiel" or "office de tourisme" and this will bring the town to the top of your search. Another thing I like to do to see if a town may be worth visiting is enter the town name in a google search followed by the word "photos". Sometimes I visit a town if I find it looks charming/interesting in photos.

Usually the first thing I do when I enter a town is head right to the tourist office. They'll always have free maps of the town and maybe some info to help you do self-guided tours around the town and all kinds of other info that you probably won't find on-line. To find the tourist office you generally just follow the signs for "Centre Ville" and then look for the tourist office sign. It will all become clear once you get here.

Christchurch
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16. Re: St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

Another lot of excellent tips. You really are very generous. :)

I hadn't really thought of visiting the tourist offices but will do so now that I know how useful they are. Will check the online sites as well. Google images has been very handy for getting an idea of what places look like which is how we "discovered" Dinan in the first place.

And I am definitely going to get those maps...

17. Re: St Malo - Dinard - Dinan

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