Sunday, 13 May 2012

Dinard, France – the Place Colard market and the Promenade au Clair de Lune


Last month I had a crazy idea in my head about buying a gorgeous and cheap house in the middle of nowhere in Brittany, France.  And so, coming across some cheap flights (£50 all in for 2 people from East Midlands airport to Dinard airport) on a whim I booked them.  Of course I then realised that buying a house in the middle of nowhere where I'd have to fly and then rent a car each time I wanted to get there probably wasn't the best idea...and so a fantastic weekend trip to Dinard was born.

Everyone has heard of St Malo but we'd never heard of Dinard which is the next resort over, across a small channel.  Apparently though Dinard is known as the Cannes of the North and has had a number of famous visitors.  We picked the most stunning weekend to go, the weather was gorgeous and we were able to enjoy some time on one of Dinard's beaches.  It was also really pleasantly quiet, with very few tourists (why am I telling you about it?!) and surprisingly little English was spoken by the people we met, which was brilliant as we really wanted to practice our French.

We arrived late on Friday night (well about 9pm) and almost everything was closed, including our hotel!  They had left us a note in the window though, so we called the number...and then started to panic as no-one was answering.  About 20 minutes later, after following some suspicious French people into the hotel foyer, the completely bonkers Audrey came down the stairs and eventually managed to get us checked in, with keys to our room.  It was certainly an unforgettable welcome to France!  Soon after though we were settled in and down the road at Flo's, who was much saner, and stayed open to cook us some lovely galettes (French savoury pancakes) and to give us our first French conversation.

Our Saturday was already planned out, we wanted to visit the market at the Place Colard which comes every Saturday morning.  Arriving there following an enjoyable walk through the local streets, we found every single inhabitant of Dinard – it wasn't uncomfortably packed but there were so many more people there than we probably saw for the whole of the rest of the weekend.  And we soon found out why...the market is truly unforgettable, like nothing we had ever seen before in our lives...

The first thing of note and what has really stayed with me were the seafood stalls.  Thousands of oysters in their shells, ready to be eaten, huge live spider crabs and lobsters which when disturbed would start to slowly crawl around and plenty of fresh fish.  I've never cooked lobster or crab but would think it would be an interesting experience getting them home from the market!

Of course the stalls we were looking forward to were the cheese stalls and there were plenty of them too.  We tracked down one in a big open fronted van and I took the plunge, asking in French for some 18 month matured Comte cheese (which we had to try having seen it on the Hungry Frenchman with Raymond Blanc) and some tomato and olive gouda.  And that was the start of our lunch. 

Next at a saucisson stall we tasted saucisson with ceps, which was mouthwateringly stunning and purchased 4 different sorts, getting 1 free for being the first customers of the day.  We then bought a baguette traditional, some cider (the favourite drink of Bretons) and some tomatoes and after seeing the rest of the stalls (which included lots of fruit and veg, deli stalls, clothes and household goods and some hot food stalls with pancakes and vietnamese being the most popular) we headed down to the beach for a gastronomic delight of a simple continental lunch.

After lunch we went for a walk along the Promenade au Clair de Lune which is a pleasant stroll around the coastline including views over to St Malo and further round the boats in the Port of Dinard alongside with the fringes of some gardens.  Of course the name suggests that you should walk it in the moonlight, when I believe it is all lit up, and no doubt this would make for a romantic after dinner walk.

I could write on forever about our weekend in Dinard.  But as you can probably tell I'd definitely recommend it, especially if you can get cheap flights and hotels deal like we did.  If we'd had longer there are some great walking and hiking trails around Brittany including national parks and also canoeing trips.  To find out more I'd recommend looking on this site.

Our trip really got us even more hooked on France and last weekend we cooked ourselves a 3 course French meal to relive the memories...blog coming soon at Phil's foodie site www.knobofcheese.co.uk.

P.S. Despite the strange arrival, the hotel we stayed in (the Comfort Hotel, Dinard Balmoral) was perfect for what we needed for the weekend.  Breakfast was lovely and really fresh like all food in France (though not cheap) and we were allowed late checkout to make the most of our Sunday.  I'd definitely recommend it for a stay.

7 comments:

  1. Great post! Very interesting things shared! Thanks!!

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  2. If you love hiking and eating as much as we do then the northern coast of France C'est formidable ;)

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  3. The photos look phenomenal - especially the food! I'm very tempted to start looking for flights!

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  4. Hi there,

    Love the site, just found it whilst browsing UK hiking sites.

    I wonder if you are interested in sampling some hiking socks from our company. I have a spare sample pair of Possum Merino hiking socks size UK 5-8 and am trying to find an avid hiker who might write a small review on them online.

    You can see them here:
    http://www.nzpossummerino.com/shop/merino-possum-fur-socks.html

    If you are interested please drop me an email: sales"at"nzpossummerino"dot"com and we can arrange it:-) happy hiking.

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  5. Hi Brian,

    Looking forward to receiving them and will take them to the Lake District next weekend if they arrive by then :)

    Cat

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  6. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the offer of trialing some hiking socks, we will be more than pleased to do so and review if you so wish.

    As we are just starting on our real hiking season, with a 6 day wild camp in the lakes. Our season will then carry on through out the winter with hikes covering most of the UK. If you have any other gear that you wold like us to review, just let us know.

    Cheers :)

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  7. Since mid summer time here in the UK it seems to have done nothing but rain, motorcycle trailers for rent

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