Saturday, 8 November 2008

DVD or Video Rental in Dinan

We didn't go very far this weekend. It was raining and Ian's children seemed to prefer to hire a film rather than go to the cinema so that's what we did.

There is a "hole in the wall" next door to the Italian Deli (near the station) in Dinan where, once you have fathomed out the procedure you can rent DVDs or Video's. It advertised that the films cost E1.50 / 6hours but I seem to have been charge E4.40. Still, I'm not moaning, it was cheaper than the Cinema and we could choose our own film.

We decided on "The Golden Compass" which is an adaption of the novel "Northern Lights" in the Philip Pullman trilogy "His Dark Materials". The film was beautiful although they did leave out what amounted to chapters in the book. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed the film, pancakes and fire blazing.

Ian and are on a bit of a budget drive at the moment because we have booked to take the children to Futuroscope at the end of November. They have a special offer at the moment: 2 nights in a hotel room for four, breakky and free entry to Furturocope for two days only costs 288 euros. Super, so we're going. I can't wait.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Glass blowing and exhibition at St. Meloir des Ondes

Ian and I took his children to the gallery and glass blowing studio in St. Meloir des Ondes (between St. Malo and Cancale) today. It was cold so the warmth of the furnaces was welcome.

We had to wait about an hour before they started working the glass but once the process began we all enjoyed watching the manipulation and blowing of the hot molten Cristal glass. One piece took about 30 minutes and was achieved by layering hot coloured glass on an already molten bulb of glass constantly blowing and turning.

Ian's children are always interested in learning new things and the artisan, Martin Durand, did include them and ask them if they had any questions at the end.

I have to confess to being a bit rigid with fear as enthusiastic spellbound kids looked around the glittering gallery, sleeves and dangling gloves just missing 300 euro objects of art but we did, thankfully, escape without any damage.

The gallery also offers workshops for adults and children for those of you who fancy having a go.

Another good idea on a cold, wet day.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Tidal power station (hydroelectrical dam) between St. Malo and Dinard

The tidal power station on the Rance Estuary between St. Malo and Dinard was the first of it's kind ever to be built. It was started in 1961. The turbines were renovated in 2002.

It was pretty cold today so outdoor activities were not on the agenda. In the end we thought a quick jaunt to the tidal power station at the Barrage de la Rance might be interesting.
The entrance was FREE ! and although the tour was very short the kids enjoyed it. There was a short film (headphones for English and German speakers) which explained the basic workings, development and the running of the tidal power station. After the film there was a small exhibition hall with interactive models showing the workings of the turbines which have been there for over 30 years now. The tidal power station can supply enough electricity for a town of up to 300,000 inhabitants.

If you are crossing the Barrage at any time, try to take 30 minutes to stop and look around.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Go-Karting in Brittany

A few weeks back Ian and I headed out to have a look at the Karting tracks north of Dinan.

We went to the track which is advertised as being in St. Malo but is in fact quite a way outside on the way to Cancale. The track looked good and well kept the atmosphere seemed friendly. It was outdoor and had two different types of go-kart that you could hire; a 9 HP(50mph) and a 22HP (70mph). These types of kart are limited to kids over 12 years of age. For under 12's there are mini quads and mini karts and a training circuit but it is very slow. If you have kids over 7 it's better to go to the outdoor karting at Le Meziere near Rennes (cheaper than the indoor one at Cap Malo on the opposite side of the motorway).

The St. Malo karting also does Quad hikes which look like fun and not too costly at 2 hours across all types of terrain for 2 hours 65 euros.

Later that afternoon we went to find the karting in Dinard which was not a scratch on the one at St. Malo but a lot closer to get to for a quick whizz round we thought. However, on closer inspection it transpired that the karts were electric and the kids karts were fixed to go at nearly walking pace which took the fun out of it for them. I don't think it was the best choice.

Both had more or less the same tariffs (approx) 15 euros for 10 minutes.

So, to summarise. If you are looking for some adult fun go to St. Malo but for kids go to Rennes:

Happy karting !

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Zoo at Tregomeur

I enjoyed this zoo because all the animals seemed to have lots of space and were presented in their natural environement.

There was a good variation of animals the best of all being the lovely freindly bear which we all became attached to.

The zoo is in a beautiful valley and is brand new. A great effort has been made with the layout and access to all areas is easy. We were even able to walk amongst the pelicans. Times were given so we could be at the right place at the right time to see the animals being fed and the zoo keepers were very freindly and available to answer all the children's questions which made it much more interesting for them.

There is a nice cafe and it wasn't too expensive but, unusually for France, no picnic tables so if you don't fancy the usual snack bar food, eat before you go.

Morning opening times are limited to certain days so better to hit it in the afternoon between 14 and 19h. The web address is

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Beaches in Brittany

All of Brittany's beaches are free and even better, uncrowded. The Brittany Coastline is over 750 miles long and is blessed with a variety of sheltered sandy coves on the north coast to long sunny stretches on the south coast.

The north coast of Brittany has fairytale like beaches which are made more interesing by the eb and flow of the tides replenishing rock pools and keeping the beaches clean and fresh.

If you are following the GR34 (see blog entry) you will be given access to most of these lovely bays.

My favorite beaches in Brittany are:

St. Jacut de la mer - There are several beaches at St. Jacut. There is one for families with easy access, dingy hire and a small beach cafe where there are no dogs allowed and some other beaches on the right hand side of the penisula where it is a bit more dog friendly for those with pets. When the tide goes out you can walk to the l’île des Ébihen along a causeway and although it's quite a hike it's a beutiful place to visit and dogs love the walk. You do have to check the tide times if you are thinking about making this trip. It's best to walk out with an outgoing tide to get enough time on the island. Many people get caught out and the tides are very strong.

Erquy :

Erquy boasts 10 beaches most of which are easily accessable and perfect for families. Erquy is the main fishing port for the most delicious scallops or "Coquilles Saint-Jacques " in the region so there are plenty of lovely bistro's, cafés and restaurants lining the sea front and tempting you with delicious seafood dishes. The scallop fishing is highly regulated in Erquy and they are only harvested between October and April.

If you follow the GR34 that leads you up to the cliffs on the left hand side of the village you will arive at the Cap d'Erquy which is spectacular, especially in September when this protected national park is awash with heather. There at some wonderful little bays to enjoy here but it's not for young children as the walk down to them is quite challenging (and a word of warning for the modest amongst you, one of the bays is a local nudist beach). The cliff path leads you towards the Cap Frehel which you can see in the distance.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Brittany's Beaches

This weekend we had real sun for what feels like the first time this summer and we took profit of the lovely weather to enjoy our local beach (La Briantais near Lancieux) with my partner's children.

The coastline here is littered with tiny bays and sandy coves. The best part about the beaches in Brittany is that they have everything, sand, sea, rocks and rockpools, cliffpaths and at our local beach a nature reserve on dunes which has some great little paths and hideaways in it.

Our mission though, was to build two giant sand castles, and we did, here they are. with armies included. We all had great fun and were hungry and exhausted when we got home. After tea we all crashed on the sofa and watched Star Wars. Fab.

Nothing makes you feel better (and nothing is cheaper) than a day at the beach.