The Emerald Coast, or Côte d’Émeraude, is the part of Brittany between Cancale and Cap Fréhel. It was given this name back in 1890 due to its emerald sea color and it is no overstatement. We saw it with our own eyes and it was marvelous! The Belgian sea is always murky brown, while the Croatian sea is intoxicatingly blue but this was something else. That emerald green is a color I’ve never seen before on water. It’s not always there if it’s a cloudy day but once the sun is out, you can just sit and marvel at it. Our stops along the Emerald Coast included Dinard, Saint-Malo and Saint-Lunaire.

The emerald coast of Brittany

Dinard

On our third day in Dinan, we got up early and drove over to Dinard. Only half an hour away, we were there before 7 AM, already munching on our pain au chocolats. Naturally, the town was completely empty so we went straight to the beach. The light kept changing from cloudy to sunny but I still dipped my toes in the sea. It was much warmer than the sea in Étretat two days ago!

The emerald coast of Brittany

What’s unique about Dinard and its beach is that you can take an uninterrupted walk alongside its coastal path. It runs alongside the coast and depending on low and high tide, it can turn into a game of trying to avoid the waves crashing! This is what happened to us, we were walking around the water during high tide and sometimes we had to run through certain sections of the path before the waves came crashing back against the rocks!

Another unique aspect of Dinard is all the villas that were built upon the rocks overlooking the sea. I can only imagine the view from them, it must be quite calming! That morning, as we walked along the coast, we only encountered a few locals who enjoyed the same walk. By the time we finished our walk along the water, we felt like we had seen the whole city. So we decided to hop onto a ferry and head to our next destination!

Saint-Malo

That destination was Saint-Malo, a city that Grégory visited half a lifetime ago. Personally, I found Saint-Malo to be quite charming. The city is completely walled-off and I loved the feeling of walking into it. We walked on top of the city walls and then had to look for shelter once the rain started. Luckily, it happened just in time for lunch so we quickly chose a restaurant.

We sat down at Le Biniou and decided to try local food. Breton galettes are big savory pancakes that basically replace bread. So you could have your breakfast on it, technically! I chose one with coquilles Saint-Jacques and Grégory picked an even more local option, with camembert. They weren’t too bad but I had to get a sweet pancake for dessert to balance it out!

After that, we took a walk to Grand Bé, usually an island but due to low tide, you could actually walk up to it. Grand Bé deserves a special mention because I’ve never seen an island like it before. It is covered in silver ragwort, a beautiful plant of the most unique shade of green! I wished we could have stayed longer just to see the tide turn it into an inaccessible island. I’m sure it looks even more magical then, surrounded only by water. I can completely understand why Chateaubriand requested to be buried on Grand Bé!

Once again, we got lucky with the weather and it was dry for the rest of the day. So following a spiral pattern, we walked through every remaining street of Saint-Malo. Some of them were completely empty and honestly, I was surprised at how charming the architecture of Saint-Malo was. I didn’t have any expectations and I didn’t do any googling on it. I figured since it’s a walled-off city, there was no way we could miss anything. My best recommendation for Saint-Malo is to climb on the city walls and then get lost in all of its little side streets! It’s a fascinating little town that moves to the rhythm of the tides.

Saint-Lunaire

Saint-Lunaire came as a surprise because, by the time we took the ferry back to Dinard and reached the car, we were exhausted. I was sure Grégory was driving back to Dinan but then I noticed we just kept passing through slow residential streets. While I did pin a specific spot near Saint-Lunaire on Google Maps, I wasn’t too set on going there. In the end, I was glad Grégory took that little detour because it was more than worth it!

The emerald coast of Brittany

We stopped by a field of sheep and from there hiked for half an hour. I’ll never forget the view once we got out of that jungle path, it was magnificent! And the sun coming out only made it look more impressive. We finally reached the main beach and had fun noticing the high tide come in fast. This is what we found the most fascinating about the Emerald Coast. I mean, the tide at Saint-Malo can rise 13m over only six hours! We both agreed that one day, we’d love to visit these places during the high tide.

The emerald coast of Brittany

Since our stop at Saint-Lunaire was an impromptu one, we didn’t go anywhere but the main beach. We simply took the jungle path back to the car, said hi to the sheep and the dog guarding them and drove back to Dinan. By then, we were weary and had energy only for a quick bite back at our Airbnb. But we were so content and giddy after such a replete day. The three cities we visited amounted to 30 km of walking but boy, was it worth it! It was definitely a day both of us will remember forever.

The emerald coast of Brittany
The emerald coast of Brittany
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