06 March 2015 by Amy Buckingham
La Ville Onzaine – a cottage betwixt Dinan and the Sea
If you’ve ever taken the ferry from Portsmouth to Saint-Malo, then you’re probably familiar with the road south from the seaport to the walled town of Dinan.
It’s a beautiful drive, setting out from the sandy beaches and glittering waters of the Emerald Coast, and ending at the true medieval gem of a town. The scenery on either side is winding, green, and truly picturesque as the route wends its way upstream along the River Rance, past intriguing inlets and around sheltered bays and sandy coves. Halfway between Saint-Malo and Dinan is Saint-Suliac, a fishing port that is classified as one of France’s most beautiful villages. The whole area is a joy to explore – vibrant yet peaceful, and full of heritage.
Driving straight through does it an injustice – which is why those ‘in the know’ choose to holiday here, staying in La Ville Onzaine – a charming and authentic holiday home situated at Plouer-sur-Rance, half-way between Saint-Malo and Dinan.
Family-owned Traditional French Cottage
The property is owned by Eliasabeth Lechenne, who meets all guests and is on hand to point them in the right direction, whether they’re looking for a good local restaurant, or a specific activity for whatever age group. She can even arrange cookery weekends – so you could become an expert in Breton cuisine during your stay!
As with so many owners of Holiday France Direct properties, her sense of pride in welcoming guests to the house is palpable. It’s been in her family for five generations now, and has been lovingly and painstakingly restored by true artisans using traditional methods and environmentally friendly materials.
The ground floor has a spacious and light open plan living and kitchen area where you can dine whilst the sun floods through the French windows overlooking the garden. Wooden stairs lead up to three double bedrooms and in the attic there are three further single beds for children, as well as plenty of room for toys and games. Outside, the ancient oak trees create shady areas to relax in on hot days and the garden offers a private and tranquil space for those seeking peace and quiet, and a safe place for children to play.
An unspoilt, historic location
It’s an easy walk into the village of Plouer where guests often enjoy a drink on the café terrace overlooking the Rance. Many guests like to take a picnic and enjoy the peace and quiet of the River Rance, making their way along the river bank on foot or by car passing a number of pretty villages and unspoilt historic towns.
And it’s only a ten minutes’ drive to Dinan itself which is packed with restaurants, creperies, boutiques – and centuries of history. One appealing feature of both Dinan and Saint-Malo is the year-round buzz, with shops and restaurants open outside of the main season as well as the festivals covering film, music, and much else besides.
Letting the property is a true team effort, with Elisabeth and her sons Tanguy and Hugues welcoming and assisting guests, and British locals Jeremy and Julia Stark handling bookings. Expats, they’ve been living here for ten years now, and simply don’t tire of it.
Sandy beaches, quiet countryside, Breton culture
“We find the area has the perfect mix of classic sandy beaches and quiet countryside,” says Jeremy, “but also the heritage is exceptional, with unspoilt historic towns like Lehon, and boundless countryside where you turn the corner and suddenly see a beautiful chateau or manoir” says Jeremy.
“And then, there’s the Breton culture with its specific music and dances, the famous ‘Fest-noz’ – and of course – Breton cuisine!”
“In some ways it’s a bit like Cornwall, but it’s quieter than the UK – the beaches are generally less packed, and the network of quiet lanes is a gift for cyclists.”
“Oh, and don’t forget that the strengthening pound makes it cheaper to holiday here too!”
So, next time you’re looking for a charming holiday in the heart of a thriving area which has held onto its medieval and maritime roots, why not take a closer look at that road from Saint-Malo to Dinan?