When I began my series of posts about a holiday to Wales I told you that this was a result of hastily reorganising arrangements because of the threats of industrial action and ferry delays due to migrant disruption at the port of Calais but we were not to be denied a visit to Northern France because in August I spotted some reasonably priced return air fares at only £49 each to the Brittany resort of Dinard.
We snapped them up almost without thinking and then invited our friends Sue and Christine to join us and they immediately agreed.
So we left East Midlands airport around about lunch time and arrived less than an hour later in the garden shed which doubles as an airport in Dinard, in Brittany. The Ryanair flight landed early so the Hertz car hire office wasn’t open because the staff were on their contracted two hour lunch break (in Europe the French work less hours than anyone else) so as it turned out I spent as long waiting in line to sign for the car as I had spent in the air and I had slept through half of that!
Car (Renault Captur) finally allocated we set off for Dinard but spotted a Lidl supermarket and stopped off for beer and wine and spent another ten minutes or so in a check out queue. I calculated that I had been in France for about ninety minutes and spent sixty of those waiting in line. This took me by surprise because generally speaking French people don’t like queuing up but as it turned out this wasn’t the only thing that was going to surprise me about Brittany.
Unusually for me I found the hotel without any trouble whatsoever but parking seemed to be a real problem until almost by magic someone vacated a space close by and I drove straight in and immediately got a warm glow in my heart as I was convinced that this short break was going to be a massive success.
We checked in, left our bags and went straight back outside to the sea front. There was a lot of beach activity because it turned out that this weekend Dinard was hosting the national French Life Guard Championship games and the activity on the beach was certainly exciting the locals as young men and women kept leaping into the sea in a series of races, the rules of which we couldn’t possibly hope to understand.
We walked along the promenade until we came across a bar that took or fancy and we sat and drank wine and surveyed the panorama of views. Dinard is a prosperous beach resort on account of the fact that wealthy fishing fleet owners out of nearby St Malo took a liking to the place in the late nineteenth century and built their cliff top seaside villas here.
It has been called the Cannes of the north, apparently Joan Collins is a frequent visitor but we didn’t spot here tonight, Winston Churchill enjoyed holidaying on the River Rance and it is claimed that Alfred Hitchcock visited Dinard and based the house used in his most famous movie Psycho on a villa standing over the Plage de l’Écluse, there is even a statue of the man to endorse the claim. Long before his adventures Lawrence of Arabia lived in Dinard as a small child and Picasso painted here in the 1920s, Claude Debussy is supposed to have had the idea for “La Mer” during a visit to Saint-Énogat in 1902 and Oscar Wilde also visited the place and mentions it in his De Profundis.
I got a whiff that this is a special place, a sophisticated France seaside town with none of the unpleasantness associated with anywhere in the UK on the coast. No amusement arcades, no beach front fairs, none of those £1 rides that so annoy me and no candyfloss or burger bars. Being a wannabe snob I felt immediately at home.
After a drink and a short walk we returned to the hotel and thoughts turned to evening meal. This could have been a difficult moment because being on the coast most of the menus were 90% fish and Sue and Christine don’t normally do fish because they have an aversion to anything that crawls, slithers or swims in the sea so I was beginning to get the sweats.
We found a traditional sort of place quite close to the hotel and chanced our arm and everything was fine, Kim and I had monkfish and Sue and Christine had smoked haddock and in anticipation of a chocolate sweet they ate every mouthful and that was quite an achievement let me tell you.
We wandered the short distance back to the hotel under the stars and with the waves caressing the caramel sand as the tide raced in went to our rooms optimistic about the weather in the morning.
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