For a fabulous foodie weekend, there’s a little corner of north-west France where time has stood just a little more still than most…
At the height of the summer season, the iconic striped tents for hire on the seafront at Dinard conjure up a bygone era – of gentrified visitors in bustles and top hats taking the air. Edward VII and Winston Churchill were once both big fans of this timeless corner of Brittany, as was Alfred Hitchcock who used a dramatic house on nearby headland as inspiration for Bates Hotel in Psycho. Today the elegant 19th-century balconied buildings and antique shops still ooze character and understated charm, and the coastal walks are a great way to work up an appetite for le déjeuner.
For foodies, however, it is the market (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) that holds all the aces. Stalls groaning with homard (blue lobster) and fraises gariguette (flat, super-sweet, early season strawberries) vie for your attention with rustic patés and dozens of intriguing, pungent cheeses.
Tip: wrap strong purchases well, ideally vac-packed, if you don’t want some very sniffy looks going back through customs!
Specialities of the region include the ubiquitous galette (try creperie Le Hautecloque) and the freshest fish and seafood (visit Café de L’Ouest in nearby Saint Malo, a short ferry ride away, for amazing moules in a Roquefort dressing). Or simply sample the street food. The snack du jour at the market is the saucisson galette – a buckwheat pancake wrapped around a local sausage served with mustard popular with a glass of local rosé.
Take me there
Within walking distance of the market in Dinard is the 5-star Castelbrac Hotel, an elegant 19th century cliffside villa which was the region’s Centre for Sea Research in the 1930s – the modern bar with its porthole windows was originally the site of giant lobster tanks. Rooms are distinctive and contemporary, and the food philosophy here is local, local, local. A leisurely lunch of seafood on its terrace – overlooking the bobbing boats of the gentle estuary – is incroyable!
Rooms start from 270 Euros per night (castelbrac.com). Ryan Air flies to Dinard-Pleurtuit-Saint Malo from London Stansted.
Words: Cathy Howes