Dol de Bretagne is located 8km inland from the Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel.
The town developed on the top of a hill that peaked above a vast marshy area.
However, in the 10th century the monks attached to the monastery Saint-Samson of Dol drained the marsh in order to reclaimed the land.
They also built a dike, which has left place to the current road linking St-Malo to Pontorson.
The reclaimed area, the Marais de Dol, has two distinct zones.
The white marsh, closer to the sea, consists of white silt formed from ancient marine deposits.
The decaying vegetation that colonized the reclaimed land produced the black marshes.
A series of pretty villages worth discovering punctuate the landscape of the Marais de Dol.
The Mont Dol and Dol de Bretagne are the only hills that resisted sea erosion through the ages.
The intriguing Mont Dol stands out in the distance, by the shore.
Dol de Bretagne – old lanes
Dol de Bretagne developed around Saint-Samson Cathedral.
It was never over-developed as countless buildings were listed Historical Monuments decades ago.
It has therefore retained a wealth of medieval features and buildings and is very picturesque.
You might want to start your visit with the Musée Historique de Dol.
It was founded in the 16th century Treasury building, next door to the cathedral.
The cathedral chapter stood in the picturesque cobbled lane Rue Ceinte.
All the half-timbered buildings that still border it are stunning.
However, the ancient shop with a granite counter at no1 really stands out!
It is now a restaurant, Le Porche au Pain.
The Rue Ceinte leads to Grande-Rue des Stuarts, Dol de Bretagne high street.
This is where you’ll find some of the finest houses.
Grande-Rue des Stuarts
The Grande-Rue des Stuarts boasts an interesting mix of architectural styles.
Indeed, some buildings date from the 11th century and are therefore older than the cathedral.
The Romanesque mansion at no17, Les Petits Palets, is supported by magnificent arcades.
It dates from the 11th-12th centuries and today accommodates a flower shop .
Dol de Bretagne’s medieval architectural heritage include many more beautifully well restored mansions.
Among them you’ll discover the 12th-13th centuries La Grisardière and the 16th century La Rose Rouge.
However, take the time to look around to discover the town’s charming inner courtyards. Victor Hugo certainly discovered the charm of Dol de Bretagne, as he sojourned at the Auberge Grand’ Maison in 1836.
A shop today replaces the inn, but a bust of the writer stands by the corner of the building in order to commemorate his stay.
A slab affixed to the facade pays tribute to the poet François-René de Chateaubriand who sojourned there when in town.
You’ll discover also many half-timbered buildings painted in bright colours, in accordance with the medieval tradition.
The effect is quite stunning.
More exceptional medieval buildings line the Rue Le Jamptel, the street that extends the Grande-Rue des Stuarts.
It leads to the covered market, a dark red metal structure erected during the 19th century.
Dol de Bretagne is not a big town, however, it boasts a fantastic architectural heritage.
Parking in town is easy, because it’s not an overcrowded place, so take your time and enjoy this exceptional place.
Department of Ille-et-Vilaine
Coordinates: Lat 48.550712 – Long -1.756305