Place des Merciers – Medieval Dinan’s main square

Half-timbered houses on Place des Merciers
Half-timbered houses on Place des Merciers

Place des Merciers is in the heart of the medieval city of Dinan and a stone’s throw from the Couvent des Cordeliers.

An ancient granite well, today disused for safety reasons, marks the centre of the square.

Beautifully restored timbered houses frame this tiny triangular square.

One of these buildings is the restaurant Chez la Mère Pourcel at no3 Place des Merciers.

The stunning grey-blue half-timbered building is one of medieval city’s landmarks.

The house was listed Historical Monument on December 4, 1961.

Alfred and Virginie Pourcel founded the restaurant in 1927 in the building that is believed to be dating from the 13th century.

The medieval district

Place des Merciers was formerly known as Place de l’Apport.

It was indeed the focal point of the medieval Quartier de l’Apport in the Ville Haute, where all the lanes merged.

La Mere Pourcel on Place des Merciers
La Mere Pourcel on Place des Merciers

Half-timbered houses, many of which are listed Historical Monuments, still border the square.

Bourgeois houses, shops and artisans’ workshops today stand next to each other and create a unique atmosphere.

However, during the Middle Ages craftsmen of the same guild used to settle along the same lanes.

Therefore, many ancient lanes still bear the name of a trade.

You’ll therefore find the nearby Rue de la Poissonnerie (fishmongers), Rue de la Lainerie (weavers), Rue de la Ferronnerie (iron-mongers), Rue de la Larderie (meat sellers), Rue de la Mittrie (dairy) or Rue du Petit-Pain (bakers)…

That siad, there are no more cobblers in the picturesque Rue de la Cordonnerie.

The lane is known as Rue de la Soif – Thirst Lane as it’s lined with 9 bars today replace the cobblers’ workshops.

This pedestrian lane is obviously one of the busiest in the city on sunny days when tables and chairs are out.

Some other lanes and passages have also retained odd names such as Rue du Saut de la Puce – Jumping Flee.

The origin of the name has been lost though.

La Cohue – Dinan’s covered market

Place des Merciers leads also to the old covered market or Halles via the tiny Rue du Petit Pain (Bakers’ Street).

La Cohue covered market by Place des Merciers
La Cohue covered market

The covered market is known as La Cohue.

It takes its name from the nearby Rue de la Chaux, as chaux evolved cohue – crowd.

The original market, founded during the 13th century, makes La Cohue the oldest remaining market in Dinan.

It was beautifully restored and re-open to the public in 2009.

You’ll find a great choice of food stalls rich in colors and fragrances, but also a café-crêperie that serves one of the best coffee in town!

La Cohue is open all week long, however, it seems to close at lunchtime during the low season.

It is one of Dinan’s best kept secrets.

Department of Côtes d’Armor
Coordinates: Lat 48.453710 – Long -2.044021

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