Town Walls of Dinan

City Gate and City Walls in Dinan & Léhon

Town Walls Of Dinan
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher

The medieval citadel of Dinan, sprawling over 30 hectares, was once safeguarded by a formidable system of fortifications, including a 2,700-meter-long stretch of ramparts, 14 guard towers (of which 10 remain), four massive gates, and the castle. Constructed in the 13th century as Dinan ascended to ducal status, these defensive structures underwent continuous enhancements up to the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, after which they ceased to serve their military purpose.

Today, these ramparts are recognized as Historical Monuments, echoing the town’s rich history. The fortifications, reinforced in the 15th century by Francis I, Duke of Brittany, and later refurbished in the 17th century, still stand as a testament to Dinan’s past strategic importance. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the town and the Rance River from six towers along the walls, providing a unique perspective on the area’s heritage.

For those keen on exploring the historical layers of French towns, Dinan offers the Promenade des Petits Fossés, a circular walk with free access that allows for an immersive journey around the city’s ancient defenses. Additionally, Dinan celebrates its historical ambiance with the Fete des Remparts, a festival that brings the medieval spirit back to life.

Enthusiasts of historical fortifications will also find Saint Malo, another Brittany gem with its own ancient walls, an essential visit. Further south, Concarneau, France’s third-largest fishing port, boasts an old walled town and an intriguing harbor, adding to the rich tapestry of fortified towns in Brittany.

Chemin de ronde (the rampart walk)

Entering the Château of Dinan through the Porte du Guichet, situated on Rue du Château, visitors begin a journey back through time. Just 50 meters down the road, the 12th-century Porte St-Louis marks a historical passage. Advancing under this gate leads to Place du Duc Jean IV, where one is greeted with impressive views of the Dungeon and Tour de Coetquen, with the Tour du Connétable and Tour de Beaufort further along, nestled between the castle and Place Duclos near the site of the now-demolished Porte de Brest. This section, including a gate and a portion of the rampart, was dismantled in 1881, its footprint now indicated by cobblestones.

Continuing on Rue Thiers, visitors encounter another segment of the ancient ramparts, adjacent to where a moat once lay, now repurposed as an open-air car park. The journey proceeds to Place du Général Leclerc, home to the Tour Julien, the first tower along the northern defenses. Further exploration reveals the 15th-century Tour de Lesquen and Tour de Beaumanoir, and the 13th-century Porte St-Malo, which leads to the old Chemin de Ronde. This path directs to the Tour du Gouverneur and Porte Jerzual, beyond which a section of the rampart has suffered partial destruction.

To continue, one must navigate Rue du Rempart to discover subsequent towers. The 13th-century Porte Ste-Catherine and the 14th-century Poterne du Cardinal reside in the northern corner of the Jardin Anglais. This verdant space offers unparalleled vistas of the viaduct and the Port of Lanvallay below, while also connecting to the Promenade de la Duchesse Anne, concluding in Rue Victor Basch. A right turn onto Rue Waldeck Rousseau and another on Rue du Général de Gaulle leads to the final stretch of the rampart, where the recently restored Tour du Sillon and Tour Longue, alongside the 15th-century Tour de Penthièvre, stand tall. A mere 50 meters onward returns the visitor to the Porte St-Louis, completing a full circle of historic exploration.

The Town Walls of Dinan appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Dinan & Léhon!

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Visiting Town Walls of Dinan

Address: 24 Rue de l'École, 22100 Dinan, France
Duration: 20 minutes

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