They call it “the Brighton of Brittany,” or “Cannes of the North.” Dinard, an old-fashioned resort town on the northern coast of France, has long been a vacation destination for well-heeled Britons and discerning French families attracted by the area’s many charms: rolling countryside, sandy beaches, historic monuments and, since 1989, the Dinard Film Festival celebrating British cinema. For generations, the Grand Hôtel, a Belle Epoque palace facing the waterfront, has been the hostelry of choice in Dinard. After years of faithful service, however, the hotel was in need of a gentle updating to respond to a new generation of travelers.
Reopened in April 2019 after a thorough renovation, the Grand Hôtel Barrière Dinard is ready to reprise its starring role as a base and ambassador for discovering its home region. While retaining original features like dark wood moldings, mosaic floors, and a period-perfect glass-walled elevator, the renovation opened up the interior and reoriented the public and guest rooms toward the waterfront, to take advantage of Brittany’s magical northern light and ever-changing seascape. “I approached my work like a film director,” says Alexandre Danan, the architect who led the renovation. “My script was a captivating story about history, nature and people in motion.”
I approached my work like a film director. My script was a captivating story about history, nature and people in motion.
The perfect vacation in Brittany, and at the Grand Hôtel Barrière Dinard, is a mix of movement and repose, stimulation and relaxation. Days that start energetically with trail hikes, bike tours, golf outings, and boat cruises—all seamlessly organized by the hotel's concierge staff, many of them native Bretons—end peacefully with a swim, sauna, and massage in the hotel’s nautical-themed spa. Dinner in the dining room, in front of picture windows looking out over the water, features the delicious local products for which Brittany is famous: oysters from Cancale, blue lobster from Finistère, lamb raised on the marshy fields below Mont-Saint-Michel, pastries with Plougastel strawberries and salty-butter caramel sauce.
While Brittany feels like a down-to-earth place, glamour is never very far away. The Casino de Dinard, a Belle Epoque building just a stroll up the coast road, is worth a visit to appreciate a classic feature of Breton seaside holidays through the years. In keeping with the prevailing spirit of celebrating le cinéma, the Grand Hôtel’s bar, Le 333, is named and decorated in homage to Kirk Douglas, who lived at the hotel in 1958 while shooting the film “The Vikings” in the area. The Hollywood star created a drink during his stay, the 333—one part each Cointreau, orange juice, and Champagne. Ordering one—as a morning eye-opener, a lunchtime refresher, or a romantic nightcap—is just the thing to put you in the picture.