En Bretagne-Dinan

Perhaps it was the light that made it so particularly special. Bright, white sunshine reflected off lead flashing and mottled slate tiles. Light made all the brighter for the contrast of grey cobbles and dark, dark timbers. Light that threw long sharp shadows, as slim and defined as the church steeple with its plaintive bells. A light that gave the town air a hazy, almost smoky feel, like the embodiment of heritage. Houses and businesses were tall and slim, l timnber-clad and carved stone, fitted flush. Indeed, the place was immaculate, and complete. The granite walls remained strong, and even the cobbles looked fresh, though polished and worn from centuries of visitors. All thrown in to relief by its hilltop perching, plunging steeply down to the river Rance.

The town buildings were vertiginous, with eaves jutting out of leaning  upper floors, making tunnels of streets. To walk the Medieval town was to meander, as if you changed in to a fish in a river swirling around corners drawn inexorably  downhill through water-carved channels, the most enticing being the Jerzual. I feel privileged to have been shown this as a child, to discover carved lintels, ornate porches and that wonder of wonders, the Ramparts that encircled the whole magical place. Of all places I recall this most sharply, a gigantic wall with apertures like a skull, and tantalizing slim doors to draw you up to elevated walkways. Yet the whole place was tantalizing at every level, offering glances and glimpses in to glassblowing workshops, a restaurant with a piano, and honeysuckle- hidden houses. Allseemn briefly, through ajar doors or windows, with eyes attuned to searing sunshine, not dark, secret interiors. It was magical.


© Tom Tide 2016


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