Dol-de-Bretagne in Brittany is a quaint medieval town close to the rugged Mont Dol that overlooks the bay of Mont St Michel.
Legend states that a Welshman named Samson was the founder of Dol-de-Bretagne, when a local lord gave him the land after Samson cured his wife and daughter of their illnesses. Much of the town's architecture dates from the Middle Ages and the defensive Gothic cathedral was built after King John of England destroyed the previous Romanesque building. The Maison des Petits Palets is one of Brittany's oldest houses and was built during the 12th century while the 17th century Maison de la Guillotière was used as a hiding place during the Revolution and the German occupation. Brittany's prehistoric past is also visible on the landscape with the striking Champ Dolent menhir, a mysterious symbol of granite standing nearly 10m high, with an estimated weight of 150 tons. It is well worth a wander around it to admire and contemplate the many myths and legends that surround it.
Much of the area around Dol-de-Bretagne is steeped in legends, particularly Mont Dol, a rocky outcrop that has been described as an island on land. In local mythology, this is where St Michael fought the devil, leaving gashes in the rock. Affording stunning views of the fields and marshes below, and the bay of Mont St Michel in the distance, it is a great place to spend a few hours visiting the statue of the Virgin Mary, the small chapel and the old mills. Below lie the marshes where pikes thrive in the waters and waterbirds swoop, as well as the farmland where other megalithic monuments can be discovered amongst the fields of grazing cattle and horses. The area is great for those who love outdoor sports with climbing and orienteering on Mont Dol, walking and cycling routes amongst the marshes, and sea kayaking, sand yachting and horse riding available in the bay. In the town itself, tours of Dol-de-Bretagne's medieval parts are a great way to explore. With some great traditional festivals throughout the year, Dol-de-Bretagne is a town which has stayed in touch with its roots and traditions.
On a Saturday morning, you'll find a market full of fresh locally produced food, crafts and more with an organic market in Place Châteaubriand on Tuesdays. Delicatessens and wine shops run by knowledgeable staff will help you try the tastes of the Normandy terroir. Shellfish are very popular here, particularly oysters and mussels caught in the bay, and especially the Moule de Bouchot which has recently received AOC status. Salicornia, known in the UK as samphire, or sea beans, is often used as a spice or an accompaniment to the fish and seafood on offer. Rare pré salé lamb from lambs raised on the salt flats of the bay is also a local delicacy. Or, simply enjoy a savoury galette (a buckwheat pancake) with a traditional bolée de cidre (cup of cider).
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