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Sifex France Guide to Ille et Vilaine

The port of Saint-Malo is one of the main ferry ports of Northern France. With its walled ramparts, improved in the 17th century by Vauban and carefully reconstructed after the war, the town centre is full of lively restaurants, cafés and shops whilst it is deservedly famous as an international sailing centre. Opposite lies Dinard with its Belle Epoque villas reminiscent of the popularity the resort enjoyed amongst the aristocracy in the 19th century still has much to recommend it as a chic resort. Known as the Nice of the North it has a casino, thalassotherapy centre, tennis, Olympic salt water pool and numerous sandy beaches and an enviably mild climate. Cancale on the coast is famous for its succulent oysters.

At Combourg the imposing feudal Château overlooks the 22 hectare “Lac Tranquille “ flanked by four towers. One of the finest examples of its kind in Brittany the Château still belongs to the family of the famous writer Chateaubriand who spent some of his young years there and wrote of the place, thus immortalising it. Inland the town of Fougères on the banks of the River Nançon has long been a frontier town and its fine fortress remains one of the finest of its type to survive, perched on a rocky outcrop. The town has imposing ramparts. Many of France’s finest writers have been inspired by Fougères, including Chateaubriand, Balzac and Victor Hugo.

To the south, Vitré is a charming medieval town with cobbled streets and half-timbered houses and an imposing medieval Chateau overlooking the Vilaine valley. The famous letter writer Mme de Sévigné lived here and a museum exists in her home, the Château des Rochers Sévigné. There is also the Museum of the Living Bee. Bécherel is a book lovers paradise with a fair every Easter, a market on the first Sunday of each month and a festival in August. There are numerous bookshops, calligraphers and book- binders as well as art galleries. The town itself is pretty and medieval with five of its nine towers still standing and part of its ramparts and keep.

Once know for its forges, Paimpont is best known for its ancient Abbey set in the forest of Brocéliande, where the adventures of Merlin the magician and King Arthur are folklore. Rennes is the capital of Brittany and a charming picturesque city with some fine squares, old timbered houses, cobbled pedestrian streets and charming gardens including a 10 hectare botanic park. At the confluence of the Ile and Vilaine rivers, these run through the town, an added feature. Copyright: Sarah Francis

© 2003-2006 Sarah Francis

Sifex France Guide to the Departments in Brittany

Cotes d'Armor
Ille et Vilaine

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