WHY GO THERE NOW?
Just a hop and a skip from the UK, beautiful Brittany boasts more than 700 miles of rugged coastline pitted with sheltered bays and secluded coves as well as an old-world charm with cobbled streets and lavish Belle Epoque mansions. Often overshadowed by the French Riviera, Brittany is enjoying a renaissance with discerning travellers choosing it for its beautiful sandy beaches, delicious seafood and historic sights. Seeking sun and sightseeing, OK! hopped across the English Channel to Dinard, a pretty seaside resort which, recently, hosted the 30th Dinard Film Festival that showcases the best of British cinema with past attendees including Sienna Miller, Rupert Grint and Emilia Fox…
WHERE SHOULD I EXPLORE?
OK! based ourselves in Dinard, a delightful seaside town filled with art galleries and historic monuments as well as restaurants serving galettes (savoury pancakes), crêpes, seafood and oysters. Getting lost among Dinard’s cobbled streets is like going back to the late 19th Century, with grand seafront villas and blue and white stripy beach tents lining the sandy beach. We loved picking out textiles at Papa Pique et Maman Coud, before browsing the antiques and sampling local cheeses at the market.
One of the benefits of travelling to Brittany via ferry is that you can hop in your own car with your picnic and explore the region. OK! was charmed by the ancient walled harbour port of St Malo, famous for its two little outlying islands that you can walk to at low tide. We also loved the inland town of Dinan, where time appears to have stood still with its quaint narrow streets lined with half-timbered houses. Once you’ve worked up a thirst sightseeing, stop for a glass of the local Breton cider on the pedestrianised Rue de la Cordonnerie, nicknamed
‘thirsty street’ because of its nine bars.
WHERE CAN I STAY?
OK! checked into Castelbrac in Dinard, a former grand villa carved into a cliff overlooking Prieuré Bay. The luxury hotel is a wonderful mix of old – stone towers and terraces – and new, with bold furnishings and marble rainfall showers. Many of the 25 rooms have sea views and some suites have terraces, while there’s a spa in the flower-covered courtyard. Breakfast is not to be missed. After our morning dip in the heated pool we tucked into scrambled eggs, cheese and buttery Breton cake! In the evening, the boutique hotel comes alive and we headed to the Aquarium Bar before dining on lobster ravioli and lamb at the Pourquoi Pas restaurant. Our favourite touch?
The homemade petit fours left on our pillow at turndown.
WHERE TO DINE AND BE SEEN?
The place to be seen is Dinard’s casino, overlooking the beach, but remember to bring your passport for entry. For local seafood, dine at the family-run Le Café Rouge in the heart of the town, where the guinea fowl was also sublime. If you’re looking to splash out, L’Attiseur is a fine dining eatery with menu highlights including scallops with roasted buckwheat risotto and creamy cider sauce. Over in St Malo, OK! enjoyed exploring the maze of medieval restaurant-lined streets, stopping off for a steaming pot of freshly caught mussels at crêperie La Duchesse Anne located on the cobbled town square – perfect for people watching.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
OK! travelled between Portsmouth and St-Malo with Brittany Ferries, who also operate ferries from Poole and Plymouth to other ports in Brittany. On the St Malo route, fares start from £377 return for a family of four and a car including an en-suite cabin on the outward overnight sailing. Book online at brittany-ferries.co.uk or call 0330 159 7000. Room rates at the five-star Castelbrac in Dinard start from £185 per night. For more details visit castelbrac.com. Find out more at www.brittanytourism.com.
FEATURE BY CLARE FISHER
EDITED BY ANNABEL MACKIE, OK! TRAVEL EDITOR