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Dinard

An elegant seaside resort on the Emerald Coast, but back in the early 19th century it was only a simple and unassuming Breton village, until mid-century with the arrival of Americans and especially the English, who even created an ex-pat community here.

At this time, Dinard became a place for high society, with British aristocrats meeting up here every year, a memorable name among them being the Welshman who would later become Lawrence of Arabia…

Since La Belle Epoque, and even a little earlier, between 1867 and 1888, the first villas were built and these were the glory days of Dinard, to which these superb residences still testify today and continue to be a large part of its charm. Colonial style buildings, English villas and Breton granite houses sit side by side in Dinard, a town awarded 4 stars by the national ‘town in bloom’ committee. Over 400 villas here have been classed as historic monuments and it is one of the oldest seaside resorts in France. The first tennis club was created here in 1879 and the second golf course in the country in 1888.

Villa Eugénie, built in honour of the last Empress of France, the wife of Emperor Napoleon III, for a time housed Le Musée du Site Balnéaire, a museum tracing the society lifestyle of the time, but now can only be seen from the outside. The Villa Monplaisir, which has become the town hall, used to belong to a rich American, Mrs Emilie Hughes Hallet, and was famous for the parties that she organised there.

1858 was the year of construction of the Notre-Dame Church and 1869 that of the Anglican Church of Saint Bartholomew, which was financed and built by the English community here and which houses a splendid organ. The ‘new’ casino dates from 1911 (although was renovated in 1970), replacing the old one which was on stilts and moved with the tide… The resort welcomed numerous writers, artists, musicians and illustrious personalities who were charmed by its upmarket and yesteryear ambiance, which still appeals just as much today. Don’t miss a walk along the Clair-de-Lune promenade.

Sitting at the entrance to the Rance estuary, Dinard offers lovely beaches, such as the Plage de l’Ecluse at the epicentre of the town and stretching to the Moulinet headland, and also Prieuré beach which has a view of Saint Malo. You may well visit the aquarium, Musée de la Mer, inaugurated in 1935 and dedicated to local species, which also keeps alive the memory of the oceanographer Commandant Charcot, who was instrumental in its inception. Not far away, the tidal factory on the Rance is an interesting piece of industrial history, as it was the first of its kind in the world.