I’ve been complaining about the weather a lot lately. While the calendar clearly states that we’re in May, I have to admit that it feels more like early April or even March here. For each gorgeous day we get, there’s a week’s worth of rain and wind right behind! How to tell that we are indeed in May? Head to Dinard and start playing “name that department” each time you see another license plate. Dinard, like Saint Malo, sees its population increase during holiday weekends and summer break. Each French department has its own number associated with it. With two main exceptions, most notably the departments which encircle Paris and those found overseas, the numbers correspond to the alphabetical order of the departments. For example, Ain is 01, Aisne is 02, while Ille-et-Vilaine, home to Dinard, is 35. Driving into Dinard this morning, we saw plenty of 75s (Paris), 92s (Hauts-de-Seine) and a mixture of the rest of the country all taking advantage of the current long weekend.
May in France is synonymous with long weekends and public holidays. Things get off to a rousing start out with Labor Day (May 1st), before continuing with May 8th (VE-Day), May 17th (Pentecost), and finally May 28th (Ascension). When a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, half the country tries to make their day off turn into a long weekend or pont (faire le pont = take a long weekend thanks to a public holiday). We are in the middle of the Pentecost pont and despite the weather, Dinard is crawling with tourists and locals alike.
If you visit Dinard, be sure to wander around the market. The girls have always loved walking around the market taking in all the sights and smells. While the covered market is open daily from 7-13:30, the open air market takes over the area surrounding the Halles de la Concorde on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays year round. Free parking is available nearby but the lot fills up quickly as do all the nearby side streets. If you don’t want trying to park ruining the experience, park anywhere you can and then walk. (Be warned, Dinard’s tourist center is composed mainly of metered parking–the meter maids are very diligent, if you don’t pay, expect to get caught. Free parking still exists but requires you to walk/search a bit more.) The center of Dinard is not that big and as long as you’re in decent shape, it’s not hard to walk to and from the market. Depending on how much you plan to buy, a stroller or a caddy with wheels can come in handy.
We actually started out at the Plage du Prieuré beach (see first photo) and then as the clouds rolled in headed into town using the Claire de Lune walkway. This is a bit of a walk from the center/market. I rarely ever head to the market from here–we tend to park in town on market days. This morning, however, we all had excess energy to burn and were in the mood for a long walk. I still haven’t figured out how professional photographers mange to make rainy scenes look so lovely–rain simply makes my photos look gray.
The coastline around Dinard is filled with beautiful 19th century villas. Built by vacationing British and American tourists, they turned Dinard into a chic summer retreat. Today, the vast majority of these Victorian villas are listed “historical” buildings. Dinard still claims a certain “British” charm and hosts an annual British Film Festival in the fall. The tourist office hosts walking tours highlighting the town’s architecture. If you’re interested in historical buildings, their tours are generally well-done. Walking into town this morning, we walked by the villas admiring not only their little quirks but their ability to stand up so well to the changing climate here. My only wish–that the girls would adapt as well to the climate as the local architecture! Rain makes them cry and the walk back to the car went on forever! Let’s hear it for some more sunny weather soon!