Walking Tour of Dinan & Léhon

Walking Tour Of Dinan & Lehon

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Embark on a captivating walking tour of Dinan and Léhon, two jewels nestled in the heart of Brittany, France. This journey will guide you through the medieval charm and historical richness of these towns, offering a deep dive into their cultural heritage and architectural beauty.

Historically Dinan, served as a residence for the Duke of Brittany, a crucial port along the English Channel, and a vibrant trading hub enriched by robust guilds and flourishing trade relations with England and Holland. By the 13th century, as maritime advancements saw ships outsize its river port capabilities, the focal point of harbor activity shifted to the neighboring St-Malo. Consequently, Dinan’s heart migrated uphill, seeking refuge and strategic advantage behind sturdy defensive walls.

Presently, Dinan’s imposing ramparts encircle a treasure trove of historical allure, from its half-timbered houses to its cobblestoned streets, securing its status as Brittany’s premier medieval town center.

Visitng Dinan

By Train: There is a pretty train station in Dinan which is perfect for picking up this walk.

By Car: There is free parking available in Léhon next the open air swimming pool and the Abbey, although, you do have to pass through narrow cobbled streets to get there! Just across the river is additional parking across the river. There is also a Aire de camping car in the village. There is a centrally located campsite in Dinan Camping Municipal Chateaubriand.

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Saint-Magloire de Léhon Abbey

Abbaye Saint-Magloire De Léhon, Cloître
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Nono314

Saint-Magloire de Léhon Abbey stands as a beacon of serenity and spiritual heritage in the quaint town of Léhon. Founded in the 9th century by Nominoë, Brittany’s inaugural duke, the abbey’s submission to Marmoutier Abbey near Tours was officially declared in 1093 through a charter signed by King Philip I of France. Throughout the 11th to 13th centuries, the abbey saw a significant increase in its income, bolstering its holdings across various dioceses including Saint-Malo, Dol, Saint-Brieuc, Tréguier, Saint-Pol, Avranches, and even extending to England. This financial prosperity facilitated the abbey’s reconstruction, driven by Peter I, Duke of Brittany.

The turmoil of the French Revolution saw Joseph Bullourde taking possession of the abbey, where he resided for three decades. A pivotal moment in its restoration journey occurred in 1885 when the first stone of the new work was blessed, marking the beginning of a new era for the abbey. However, it wasn’t until 1956 that the convent buildings themselves saw restoration, indicating a lengthy and phased process of renewal and preservation.

Location: Abbaye de Léhon, Le Bourg, Dinan, France | Price: Free
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Viaduc de Dinan

Le Vieux Pont, Dinan
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Patrick from Compiègne, France

Head along Le Bourg, with the Abbey on your left to cross the river. Turn left and walk along the path alongside the Rance River. After about 30 mins / 2km you will come the the Viaduc de Dinan.

The Viaduc de Dinan, an engineering marvel of the mid-19th century, stands as a testament to the architectural ambition and technological prowess of its time. Officially opened to traffic in 1852, this imposing structure stretches 250 meters in length and soars 40 meters above the picturesque Rance River, connecting the hillside community of Lanvallay with the historic walled city of Dinan. Comprising ten elegantly designed arches constructed from grey granite, the viaduct not only facilitated a significant improvement in local traffic flow by offering an alternative route that bypassed the narrow, congested lanes leading to the old port and the ascent of Rue du Petit-Fort, but it also became a symbol of progress and connectivity in the region. Beyond its practical utility, the Viaduc de Dinan is celebrated for its breathtaking views of the river and surrounding landscapes, making it a cherished landmark and a favored spot for both residents and visitors seeking to capture the beauty of Brittany.

Location: Viaduc de Dinan Rue Général de Gaulle 22100 Dinan France
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The Rance River

Dinan On The Banks Of The Rance

Carry on long the river and cross the old stone bridge, Le Vieux Pont. You can walk through the Port de Dinan with the river on your left.

The Rance River winds its way through the picturesque landscapes of Brittany, offering a tranquil escape into nature’s embrace. As it flows past Dinan, the river becomes a mirror reflecting the town’s medieval charm, with boats gently bobbing at the docks replacing the cargo ships of yesteryears. The banks of the Rance invite leisurely strolls and picnics, providing a peaceful backdrop for relaxation and contemplation amidst the bustling life of the surrounding towns.

You can rent small electric boats here or take a cruise.  You can also take a cruise from here to St Samson along the Rance. Ride on a comfortable boat while admiring the coast and nature from the water. In the summer months it may be worth booking in advance.

Location: Port de Dinan Rue du Quai 22100 Dinan France | Book Boat trip tickets on the river La Rance
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Rue du Petit Fort & Maison du Gouverneur

Rue Du Petit-Fort Maison Du Gouverneur
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Patrick from Compiègne, France

From the bridge climb up Rue du Petit Fort, renowned as Dinan’s most charming street. The street stretches from the harbour at the town’s base up to the bustling city centre. This enchanting thoroughfare is lined with picturesque half-timbered houses and quaint art galleries.

The Maison du Gouverneur was constructed in the late 15th century, this striking half-timbered building was once the abode of a wealthy cloth merchant. Designated as a Historic Monument in 1938 and subsequently restored in the 1950s, the structure has preserved exceptional architectural features that now serve as a unique backdrop for art exhibitions.

Location: Maison du Gouverneur, Rue du Petit Fort, Dinan, France
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Town Walls of Dinan

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

At the top of Rue du Petit Fort you come to Porte du Jerzual, this gateway to the town was built in the 14th century in the base of a tower and once formed part of the defences of Dinan. In later years a drawbridge was also added here, to further strengthen the town defences. After having a look at the gateway, to climb to walls you need to turn left just before you get the the gates and walk up Ven. Michel, turn left onto Rue Michel and access to the Chemin de Ronde is on your right.

The Town Walls of Dinan encase the old town in a protective embrace, standing as a testament to the town’s strategic importance throughout history. These imposing ramparts, dating back to the Middle Ages, offer visitors a chance to walk through history, enjoying stunning views of Dinan and the verdant countryside beyond. A stroll along these ancient defenses is a journey back in time, offering insights into the town’s past and the architectural ingenuity of its people.

Next you will come to the Mercoeur Bastion and then the Porte de Saint-Malo, where you will have to descend. Walk out of the city walls and walk along the Pascalou or La Contrescarpe. You pass the Tour Beaumanoir, navigate across a roundabout and pass Tour Lesquen. As you reach the corner of the city and the Tour Saint Julien you pass back within its walls. At the end of the street, cross back outside the walls. 

Location: 24 Rue de l'École, 22100 Dinan, France
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Val Cocherel Garden

Val Cocherel Garden
© Dinan Town Hall

As you  pass the location of the La Tour Beaufort turn right and head for the Jardin du Val Cocherel or Jardin des Petits Diables.

Named after the “Cocherel” stream that meanders through the bottom of its garden, this splendid park spans roughly 4 hectares of lush green space in the core of Dinan. Designed with fun and family in mind, it features an array of amenities including slides and swings for the kids, a sheltered picnic spot, mini-golf, ping-pong tables, and even a small collection of animals. For those looking to relax among nature, there’s a rose garden to explore, and a kiosk on-site provides cold beverages, ice cream, and sandwiches, making it a perfect destination for a leisurely day out with the family.

Location: Jardin des Petits Diables, Promenade des Petits Fossés, Dinan, France | Hours: Opening of the garden: Summer: From April 1 to September 30: 8:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Winter: From October 1 to March 30: 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.Opening of the kiosk: from April 1 to September 30, open 7 days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from October 1 to November 15, open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.
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Château de Dinan

Chateau Dinan
CC BY-SA 3.0 /

Climb back unto the city walls and pass through the Porte du Guichet, bear left to get to the Château de Dinan. Just outside on the road is the Dinan-Cap Fréhel Tourisme

Château de Dinan commands attention with its formidable structure, dominating the town’s skyline as a symbol of medieval might and architectural prowess. This castle, with its robust towers and defensive walls, offers a deep dive into the feudal history of Brittany, inviting visitors to explore its chambers and dungeons. The Château de Dinan is not just a historical monument; it’s a gateway to understanding the medieval life, conflicts, and cultures that shaped the region.

Location: Château de Dinan, Dinan, France | Hours: April - September: 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. October - December: 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. | Price: Adult: €7.50 Child: €3.50 | Website
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Basilique St-Saveur of Dinan

Basilique St-Saveur Of Dinan
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Manuel Velazquez

From the Chateau walk along the Rue Général de Gaulle, and cut across the road to the Prom. de la Duchesse Anne when you can until you reach the La Tour Cardinal and the Jardin Anglais. The Jardin Anglais is located on the site of the old medieval church cemetery. It was created in 1853 and is dedicated to the many English who moved to Dinan in the 19th century which at the time was called The English Colony. Look out for the Ginkgo biloba and a gigantic Himalayan cedar.

Basilique St-Saveur of Dinan stands as a spiritual landmark, boasting a harmonious blend of architectural styles that span centuries. This basilica, with its unique facade and richly decorated interior, houses sacred relics and art, serving as a focal point for pilgrimage and reflection. The Basilique St-Saveur is a testament to the town’s enduring faith and its role in the religious history of Brittany.

Location: Basilique Saint-Sauveur de Dinan, Place Saint-Sauveur, Dinan, France
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La tour de l’Horloge

La Tour De L’Horloge, Dinan
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Manuel Velazquez

Head around the Basilique Saint-Sauveur and turn left to see the St. Catherine Kapelle, pop inside to see the upside-down boat-style wooden ceiling. Past the chapel turn right and walk along the impressive Esplanade de la fraternité, built in 2015. Behind you is the impressive looking Bibliothèque Municipale de Dinan. Turn right then first left, with the Théâtre Des Jacobins on your right. Turn right onto Rue de l’Horloge, which is halfway along the street on the left.

La tour de l’Horloge, with its timeless elegance, punctuates the skyline of Dinan. This 15th-century clock tower, offering panoramic views of the town and its surroundings, is a highlight for visitors seeking to capture the essence of Dinan from above. The journey to the top is a step back in time, with each tick of the clock marking the passage of centuries and the stories that have unfolded beneath its watchful gaze.

Location: Rue de l'Horloge, Dinan, France, 22100 | Hours: From February 10 to March 30: Tuesday to Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. From April 1 to October 6: Every day from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. except Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. | Price: €4 / €2.50 | Website
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Place des Merciers

Place Des Merciers, Dinan
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher

Turn left onto Rue de l’Horloge and left again at the end to walk along Place des Merciers.

Place des Merciers encapsulates the bustling market life of medieval Dinan, with its beautifully preserved timber-framed houses and cobblestone streets. This charming square, once the heart of the town’s commercial activities, continues to enchant visitors with its historic ambiance and vibrant energy. Place des Merciers is not just a place to visit; it’s an experience, offering a glimpse into the daily lives of the people who have walked its paths through the ages.

Location: Place des Merciers, Dinan, France
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Église Saint-Malo

Saint-Malo Church Dinan

At the end of Place des Merciers turn right onto Grand Rue and you will soon come to Eglise Saint-Malo.

Dating back to the 11th century, Dinan was home to a church dedicated to Saint-Malo, located outside the city’s defensive walls. In the late 15th century, as France sought to extend its control over Brittany, concerns grew in Dinan that the church could be exploited by French forces in the event of a siege. Responding to these strategic considerations, François II, Duke of Brittany, decreed in 1487 that the Saint-Malo church be torn down and reconstructed safely within the city’s walls. The rebuilding effort kicked off in 1490, fueled by generous contributions from the thriving community of Dinan. The new edifice, characterized by its flamboyant Gothic style, was constructed using the region’s distinctive granite.

The influx of financial support for the church waned with the onset of the 16th-century Reformation. Despite receiving a donation from François I, completion of the choir and transept was delayed until the 17th century. Remarkably, the nave remained incomplete for nearly 400 years.

The French Revolution repurposed the then-abandoned church for various secular uses, including a grain market and barracks. Worship was restored to the dilapidated building in 1803. It was not until the mid-19th century, between 1855 and 1865, that the state undertook a significant restoration, rebuilding the nave by drawing on existing plans and the architectural details of the choir, breathing new life into this historic sanctuary.

Location: Église Saint-Malo, Rue du Chanoine Meinser, Dinan, France
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Château de Léhon

Chateau De Lehon
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Patrbe

After walking around the Eglise Saint-Malo to see all the gargoyles, walk back along Grand Rue and a little later walk down Rue du Jerzual. Rue du Jerzual, historically known as the artisans’ street, is adorned with shops originating from the 15th and 16th centuries. Today, it continues to host approximately a dozen artisans and artists, preserving its rich heritage of craftsmanship and creativity. Turn right onto Rue Croix Quart and left onto Rue Michel until you see the Torre Sainte-Catherine on your right and step down on your right to the river. Walk back along the river to the Château de Léhon.

Château de Léhon, though now in ruins, whispers tales of a bygone era when it stood as a fortress overseeing the strategic Rance valley. The remnants of this 13th-century castle, set amidst the scenic beauty of Léhon, invite imagination to reconstruct its former glory and the historical events it witnessed. Visiting the Château de Léhon is a pilgrimage for those fascinated by the feudal history of Brittany, offering a serene yet poignant reminder of the passage of time and the stories etched into the landscape.

Location: Château de Léhon, Allée du Château, Dinan, France | Hours: 24 hours | Price: Free
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