Monday, December 04, 2006


Guest blog by Thomas Will!

Dinard has undoubtedly reached the nadir of its popularity. The beach huts lining the cold promenade are shabby, the paint peeling from their woodwork, and the statue of Hitchcock which stands atop a large concrete egg in the car park has turned its back to the cold sea. The grim-faced British holidaymakers, such as they are, huddle in the cafés at the top of the beach whilst masticating endless plates of bifteck-frites, their eyes fixed disconsolately on the Channel.

We visit the town on Saturdays, walking along the coast road from St Briac in order to visit the market (we have already known the area long enough that the only recreational activity with any interest remaining to us is shopping). Turning the corner down the hill into the town square, past the men from the Ivory coast who sell humorous toy apes with enormous extendable penises, and tight-faced Bretonne women hawking imitation blanc-de-Chine, we enter the market proper, a region tinged with the unmistakeably disagreeable odour of andouillette, which swings from the cross bar of a charcutier’s stall like the decaying remains of some long-gibbeted criminal.

The real interest for the jaundiced and artistically inclined shopper lies, however, in the numerous art-supply shops which are spread about the narrow streets of the town, capitalizing on a, by now rather archaic, local association with painting. This faint bohemian patina has been bestowed on Dinard by the occasional historical presence of Renoir and Monet, who came in their vacances to paint the local rock formations, pine trees, grizzled ex-winkle-pickers, and other maritime features. These days an entirely different calibre of artist purchases their tools in these shops, but what they lack in terms of ability they made up for by their grim enthusiasm. These slaves to the painterly muse can be seen dotted all over the headland on a clear day, and are doubtless up there in the not infrequent rain and mist too, as the fecundity of their efforts, which was displayed in the innumerable shop-front galleries of Dinard, points to a year round creative devotion uninhibited by even the most adverse weather conditions.

Photos by Tom