Concarneau combines all that is best about Brittany. It is one of France’s key fishing ports and hosts great fish auctions (criées). The bustling town has plenty of shops and restaurants and a historic walled town (Ville Close) sits on an island within the port. There are also beaches and boat trips to enjoy.
The town was first fortified in the 11th century and was at its most formidable in the 14th. The Ville Close, linked to the rest of the town by a bridge and gateway, was fortified by the military strategist Vauban during Louis XIV’s reign. There are excellent views from his ramparts.
The main street, rue Vauban, is flanked by 16th- to 18th-century buildings filled with souvenir shops, while the Musée de la Pêche (Fishing Museum), is at the start of this street. Concarneau’s modern marina sits on the seaward side of the Ville Close, while the main fishing port, with its utilitarian buildings, is on the land side. The fish auction at quai de la Criée (arrive by 6.30am) is the largest in Brittany and the catches are dispatched across France.
If you prefer to see live fish, visit the Marinarium, on the seafront at the place de la Croix.
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Medieval Dinan is one of Brittany’s best preserved old towns. Many sections of the 600- year-old ramparts (the oldest and most extensive in Brittany) are walkable, such as Duchess Anne’s walk that brings you out into the Jardin Anglais, with panoramic views of the valley.
I have been camping in Brittany 3 times out of the last 7 years, and love the region. Dinan is just one town that I visited last year that grabbed my attention. The region, that has so much in common with Cornwall, offers super family holidays whether it is a beach holiday, an active outdoor holiday or exploring the region rich history. Use I Spy Camping to help you find your ideal holiday park.
In the 12th century, Dinan crusader Rivallon le Roux pledged that, if he survived, he would return to his home town and pay for a church dedicated to Christ. The Gothic and Romanesque St-Sauveur basilica was built between the 12th and 18th centuries. It contains relics from every period, including the heart of another local knight, Bertrand du Guesclin, whose equestrian statue stands in place du Guesclin. This square hosts the Thursday-morning market.
The old town is perfect for exploring on foot. The narrow, cobbled rue du Petit-Fort winds its way (steeply) from the port to the heart of the town. It’s lined with medieval merchants’ houses, crêperies, arts and crafts shops and the Maison du Gouverneur, a spectacular three-floor, half-timbered house containing a display of regional furniture. Head to the place des Merciers to see the town’s most beautiful half-timbered houses.
The Gothic Église St-Malo has a superb English organ, dating from the Romantic period, and beautiful stained-glass windows illustrating great moments in the town’s history. A pleasant walk from central Dinan you’ll find Léhon, a pretty hamlet with a 9th-century priory. You can take boat trips up the Rance from St-Malo to Dinan from April to September. There are good views of the town and the Rance valley from the Tour de l’Horloge.
You can find out more about Dinan’s local history at the Musée du Château, in the ruined 14th-century castle keep.