Hidden Brittany: The petit delights of Dol-de-Bretagne

Mont St Michel: Viewed from  the almost  deserted Dol Marsh

Mont St Michel: Viewed from the almost deserted Dol Marsh

Just back from a two week break in Brittany with the grandkids where to my surprise very little has changed once you get off the motorways. Rural France has empty roads, open spaces and places to visit without meeting the crowds at the height of the tourist season. Indeed two places we visited which commanded just a sentence in the Michelin Green Guide we had to ourselves.

Our destination was a busy campsite just outside the medieval town of Dol-de-Bretagne – a place which is more likely to attract French tourists than the English – and most of the people do not speak English. It also stages a medieval tournament in August celebrating the rivalries in France once the English had been defeated!

Once away from the huge international tourist Des Ormes campsite with its five swimming pools, horse riding,golf and zip wire, you can find places that have hardly changed in centuries.

View from Mount Dol over Brittany and the coast

View from Mount Dol over Brittany and the coast

Most popular with us was Mont Dol -a 208 foot high granite mound. approached by a narrow road with a midway hairpin bend. Despite its diminutive size- it offers stupendous views stretching for miles across the Brittany-Normandy border, a tower, an old windmill, picnic area, children’s playground and a creperie.

Going to collect cockles and mussels French style

Going to collect cockles and mussels French style

In front of the mound lies a bit of France that resembles  coastal Norfolk and Suffolk – a large expanse of salt marshes and drained farmland with dykes. Here only a few miles from the overcrowded  mega tourist attraction of Mont St Michael are deserted bays, huge open skies, roads and tracks only frequented by cyclists and people searching for cockles and mussels.

Ruined castle at Hede

Ruined castle at Hede

Inland were the towns of Combourg – which has its own cheese – and Hede. The former has a lake and a chateau , the latter is on a hill with a ruined castle where we had the place to ourselves and the grandkids discovered a secret passage. The only public warning was not to nick the stones.

Friendly lemur at the zoo

Friendly lemur at the zoo

We also discovered a more popular zoo at a Bourbansais Chateau. – again set in gardens with everything from lions to lemurs. It also had its own pack of hunting dogs who put on a daily display – without killing anything!

Cheeky grandson Leon in the ruined cloisters at Le Tronchet

Cheeky grandson Leon in the ruined cloisters at Le Tronchet

But probably the quietest spot was a a half ruined former Benedictine abbey at Le Tronchet – a small village- which turned out to have a garden attached to it with picnic tables. Again apart from two French cyclists we had the place to ourselves.

It’s still great to know that you can find places in August where you can get away from the crowds if you want peace and quiet- even with four grandchildren.

 

One thought on “Hidden Brittany: The petit delights of Dol-de-Bretagne

  1. Hi David, you lucky man or grandfather so happy you had a good time. There are over a million grandparents in the UK with no rights to see their seeds of love for the future generations. I wrote to Cameron before the last elections asking for grandparents rights and I will make sure we grandparents vote for the Tories. Cameron and Clegg both via the media promised us the rights, won their seats and sent us grandparents packing, and now again in the media they are promising us the rights. What they will do for votes. They should be sentenced as they sentence grandparents to their deaths never to see the seeds of love again. Cameron or others will not even give grandparents any rights when our grandchildren are being taken, on allegations only, into care. But then our children in care are a multibillion pound industry creating millions of jobs so grandparents will never get any rights. But wonderful to hear there are people still having fun with their grandkids.
    Maggie Tuttle http://www.childrenscreamingtobeheard.com the silent witnesses here lies the truth.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s