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2017 E5 walk, day 28: La Gilais to Dinan

Section 7, Day 28
La Gilais
2°2′57.7″W
48°19′30.7″N
Dinan
2°1′57.7″W
48°27′41.7″N
low 49 °F
0.47″ rain
high 64 °F
55,317 steps
22.1 miles

Rather than get a lift back into Guenroc, I simply walked the extra 30 minutes or so along the farm roads. It was a nice warm-up for the day.

Before I reached the trail, I stopped by a café that had caught my eye the night before. It turned out to be a small family business, Les Plaisirs de Mam Flo (something like “Ma Flo’s Pleasures”?), selling coffee but also sauces and terrines. I talked to the owner for a short time, and bought a jar of “Plaisir d’Armorique” (“Armorican1 Pleasure”?) terrine.2

By early afternoon, the trail had lazily made its way to the Rance river, which I would follow for the next few days. Along this stretch (from where the GR 34C joined it, just north of the town of Évran, north to the Atlantic), the river felt very tamed — wide, straight banks and a gentle current. It felt a little like the Nantes–Brest canal (last seen about a week previously).

To the east, a low stone bridge arches over a small river; its smooth surface makes it difficult to distinguish from a canal.  The far end of the bridge has vines growing on it; beyond are two buildings made of the same stone.  Both banks are grassy; the near has a single tree leaning overhead, while the far side has a tree-covered slope above the buildings.
A bridge over the Rance at the town of Léhon.

The trail detoured one block inland in Léhon to pass a lovely abbey, the Abbaye Saint-Magliore de Léhon. I stopped to peek around for a few minutes before continuing.

From under a shady arched colonnade, we look at neatly-groomed flowerbeds in a courtyard.  The far right side of the courtyard is defined by a four-story-tall stone building; the left side is only three stories, both with windows and steep roofs.  A placard on the nearest pillar describes the courtyard — “Jardin Médiéval de Marie” (“medieval garden of Mary”) can be read, but the rest is difficult to make out.
A courtyard garden in the abbey.

Léhon was a little satellite town to my destination for the day, the town of Dinan. I was actually staying a little farther north, on the out­skirts of the town, and the place wasn’t scheduled to open for another hour and a half, so I headed up from the river into town to look around.

A steep cobblestone road climbs to the south-southwest, ending at a broad, round stone tower.  Pedestrians can continue through a dark, arched tunnel to the other side.  The tower has few windows; its entire look is quite medieval.  To the left is a tall stone wall, with ivy growing over much of it; to the right are stone buildings, with at most one door visible (though they have more windows than the tower).
The eastern gate to Dinan, several minutes’ hike up from the river.

I stayed at a youth hostel perhaps 20 minutes’ walk from the center of town, up a little valley from the Rance. I had been walking for more then four straight weeks, and since I was able to get a tiny private room in the hostel, I decided to stay an extra night, and treat myself to a “zero-day”, making zero forward prog­ress on the walk.

To the north-northwest stands a four-story stone building.  It has a fair number of windows; some are dormers through the roof on the fourth floor, and two are open.  Two sets of double doors open from the ground floor onto a lawn, which has some stumps and a picnic table, near which stand a man and a black dog.  To the left, another pair of double doors enters from slightly below ground level, having the look of a delivery entrance.  A column of ivy climbs most of the way up to the roof; the sky is partly cloudy.  Tall trees are visible on the other side of the building on the left, and to the right of the building.
The hostel was on the Rue des Quatre Moulins (“Four Mills Road”), in one of the four old mills. (I’m assuming there were three others, though I didn’t actually see any of them.) My room had the dormer with the open window on the right.

It felt luxurious to unpack for the night and not have to think about packing back up again early the next morning. I strolled back into Dinan, and ate dinner at Crêperie Au Coin de la Breizh.3 Then I wandered around town a bit, scouting for a laundromat for the next day.

Dinan was super-cute. It had somehow managed to not get blown to hell during either war, and kept its medieval walls. The old town has lots of half-timbered buildings, with stone for the ground floor and timber and plaster on the upper floors.

At dusk, a small car is driving away to the east on a cobblestone road, between rows of medieval buildings.  The buildings reach over the sidewalks on pillars, and are timber-framed with something like plaster between timbers, two or three stories above the ground floor.  Two pedestrians are barely visible in the dimming light.
I love seeing old and new living side-by-side like here in Dinan.

By the time I headed back to the hostel, it was dark. I walked up the mill road with my headlamp shining red on the back of my head and my phone flashlight ahead of me, and no cars ran me over.

Map of the day’s route.

  1. Côtes-d’Armor, the département of Brittany that I spent the least time in, takes its name from the Roman province of Armorica. (A département is a subdivision of a région; Brittany is one of 13 régions in mainland France. Brittany’s three other départements are Finistère (where I started the walk), Ille-et-Vilaine, and Morbihan.) ↩︎

  2. Ingrédients: porc 86,10%, oignon, œuf, amidon de maïs, sel non nitrité, cidre 1,10%, muscade, poivre.” I was firmly corrected that it was not pâté: The latter is smooth and usually made of poultry liver, while terrine is much more coarse and variable in contents and texture. ↩︎

  3. I don’t know how to translate this less awkwardly than “Crêperie Around the Corner from Brittany”, Breizh being Breton for Brittany. ↩︎