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Discovering the region


Maison Tirel Guerin is ideally located in the heart of Brittany, near Saint-Malo and Cancale...

Ille-et-Vilaine is a part of the current region of Brittany and is bordered by the departments of Manche to the north-east, Mayenne to the east, Maine-et-Loire to the south-east, Loire-Atlantique to the south, Morbihan to the south-west, and Côtes-d’Armor to the west and north-west. Also the English Channel (la Manche in French) borders the department to the north.
The department is named after its two main rivers, the Ille and the Vilaine, whose confluence is in Rennes, the capital of the department and of the region. Other important rivers include : the Rance, that borders the department in the north-west and flows to the north, creating a deep fjord before reaching the English Channel on the western part of the coast (named Côte d’Émeraude) between the cities of Dinard and Saint-Malo); the Rance river is connected from the west of the department to the Ille river in the north-west suburbs of Rennes with a navigable channel (then the Ille river is channelized to join the Vilaine up to the center of the city of Rennes) 
and the Couesnon that borders the eastern part of the department and which reaches the eastern part of the coast of the English Channel, in the flat Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel.

Cancale (Breton: Kankaven) lies along the coast to the east of Saint-Malo. It is a picturesque fishing port popular with visitors, many of whom are drawn by its reputation as the "oyster capital" of Brittany. Though a small town, it is well served by a large number of restaurants, many specializing in seafood. When not eating one can sit and watch the bustle of this busy little town with many stalls selling crustaceans of all types. There is a pleasant coastal path which permits a circular walk from the town to the Pointe du Grouin with views across the bay towards Mont Saint-Michel. Eugène Feyen painted Cancale and the inhabitants with the oyster-picking Cancalaises for several decades around 1865–1908. Vincent van Gogh wrote that "Eugène Feyen is one of the few painters who pictures intimate modern life as it is really, and does not turn it into fashion plates".
History has it that Louis XIV had his oysters brought to Versailles from Cancale. Centuries later, the farming of oysters is still a major activity in the port and there are oyster beds covering about 7.3 square kilometers easily seen from the pier at the harbour. These beds harvest about 25,000 tons of oysters each year.
The rocky finger of the Pointe du Grouin points out and protects the entrance into the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. On this headland, a Grande Randonnée runs around hugging the cliff face and there is a circular walk starting out from Cancale. On their way the walkers can enjoy views of the Île des Landes a long barren outcrop (now a bird sanctuary), the lighthouse, the Îles Chausey, Granville on the Normandy coast, and, on a clear day, the outline of Mont Saint-Michel.

Having strolled in Saint-Malo intra-murros and having made a walk on, you will quickly realize there are many things to see and do. Here is a list of local curiosities that we heartily recommend visiting: the Grand Aquarium, the Saint-Malo ramparts, Grand Bé island, Fort National, le Musée d’histoire de la ville et du pays Malouin (Local history Museum), Saint-Vincent Cathederal, la maison de Corsaire - Hôtel d’Asfeld…

Saint-Suliac, one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France, offers a panoramic viewpoint of the Rance estuary. For a long time it was a village of trawler men who fished off Newfoundland and the statue of the Virgin de Grainfollet watched over these fishermen. In the narrow streets where children play as they come out of school, flowers grow between the granite stones of the magnificent houses. A tide mill, old salt marshes, a menhir or standing stone are just some of the local treasures to admire in an exceptionally well-preserved site.

Saint-Briac strongly influenced by its maritime past, has been able to combine the charms of an historic fishing village with those of a seaside holiday resort. This little port, birthplace to many sea-faring explorers, equally attracted and inspired many famous artists.
From the Garde-Guérin (listed site overlooking a more than 50-year old golf on the sea shore which offers a magnificent view from Cap Fréhel to the Meinga point and the Channel Islands), you are invited to follow the laces of dunes planted with marram grass, the 700-mooring marina and to go along the Nessay peninsula, a wonderful site observation facing the mouth of the Frémur: the landwaiter paths mingle with those of the painters.
Then, after the walk up the shores of the Frémur, you arrive at Rochegoude tidal mill: you have then discovered the huge diversity of our coast and the enchantment of a country of sea, scents, winds and changing sky. On the way back from the pilgrimage to the “Chapelle de l’épine”, you will cross some of the 50 villages scattered over the 8.000.000 square meters of our village and you will end in the maze of small streets in the centre: the 17th century bell tower (listed as an historical monument), the 18thcentury captains houses, the Ruettes alley, the Boulevard de la mer and its seaside villas, the stele of the sculptor Armel Beaufils who was dedicated to Victoria Mélita, the arch-duchess of Russia (the Romanov family stayed for 40 years at Saint-Briac after the Bolshevik revolution.

Les Châteaux

Combourg remains closely linked to François René de Châteaubriand, the most famous of all French Romantic authors, who found his inspiration here, at the end of the 18thcentury, in this historic, leafy green setting. Follow in the poet’s footsteps, and enjoy the country atmosphere of Tranquille Lake, and the imposing castle.
As soon as you arrive, you are bound to admire the 4 massive ‘pepperpot’ towers at the corners of the castle building. The powerful granite fortress, built in the 11th century and remodelled since, was responsible for defending Brittany’s borders. In the Tour du Chat tower you will find Châteaubriand’s childhood bedroom – a great setting for quiet contemplation! There are beautiful views from the castellated parapet walk, looking out over the grounds, the lake and the town.
Below the castle walls, the town spreads out, spilling over the borders of the former Priory district, which remains unchanged. Its commercial past, based on cloth-weaving and leather-tanning, has left a legacy of half-timbered buildings. The arrival of the railway was to change the face of the town, and now it boasts 16th century residences like the Maison de la Lanterne, elbow-to-elbow with remodelled 19th and 20th century facades.
The spirit of Chateaubriand permeates the town’s stone walls and back streets. From church to lake-shore, lingering near the castle, visitors can follow in the strolling footsteps of the ’Father of Romanticism’. Finely-worked stone steps, castle grounds, dovecotes - literary references abound, further proof of how literature is inspired by the beauteous harmony of nature and architecture.

The proud little historic city of Dol, with its fascinating cathedral, was built above the marshes extending to the Baie de Mont St-Michel. Out of this dramatically flat landscape emerges an extraordinary outcrop, Mont Dol, where Saint Michael supposedly fought off Satan. Climb it for elating views.
Dol boasts some exceptionally old medieval houses along its high street, but the outstanding building in the town is the hulking, defensive 13th-century cathedral. The roots of the bishopric go back to a dynamic 6th-century Welshman named Samson, who, legend has it, rid the local lord’s wife of leprosy and his daughter of demons, for which kind services he was rewarded with land here. Naughty King John of England’s troops burned down the Romanesque cathedral, so a mighty new Gothic one went up – one hideous gargoyle on it is said to resemble the evil monarch. Medieval times and the manner in which Europe’s great cathedrals were constructed are highlighted at the museum, Médiavylis.
Mont Dol is an extraordinary outcrop of rock, almost resembling another island like that of Mont St-Michel, but this one isolated on the flat coastal plain in front of Dol. Stunning views across northeast Brittany are afforded from its summit 65 metres above sea level and sporty types reach its small plateau by practising their rock climbing. Less strenuously, atop the rock, you can climb the Tour Notre-Dame, signalled by a large statue of the Virgin Mary, for the most stunning views of the patchwork of fields below and the Baie de Mont St-Michel beyond. One of the two windmills on Mont Dol is sometimes open for visits.

Northwest of Rennes, Bécherel is a must for French-speaking lovers of literature. This charming medieval town is France’s equivalent of Hay-on-Wye and has a year-long events calendar. When you’ve nosed around the bookshops, take a wander through its atmospheric streets.
Bécherel officially became a Book Town in 1989 when the first Fête du Livre was held; it is now an annual event, which takes place at Easter and is complemented by a series of events throughout the year including a reading festival in October. The town has around 15 bookshops, some with cafés, which specialize in every subject under the sun and range from rare first editions to contemporary fiction. A book market takes place in the town on the first Sunday of every month.
Overlooking the Rance Valley, this former stronghold has been a ‘little town of character’ (Petite Cité de Caractère) since 1978. Bécherel grew up around a castle erected in the 12th century but the town didn’t come into its own until the 16th century when it was known for producing Brittany’s finest linen and hemp, much of which was used to make sails. Street names, such as Rue de la Chanvrerie and Rue de la Filanderie, remind us of its textile industry, as do the impressive merchants’ houses in La Place des Anciennes Halles.
One of the town’s most impressive buildings is the Hostellerie de l’Écu de Laval, an old inn dating from the 16th century, which is all that remains of a row of houses whose porches

The TIREL GUERIN team will be able to advise you on the best visits and excursions on offer in the region. According to your needs, wishes and the time you have.