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What to do in Dol-de-Bretagne and Mont Dol ?

What to do in Dol-de-Bretagne and Mont Dol ?

Brittany City Guide Emerald Coast France

It had been a while since I last introduced one of the gems of the Emerald Coast. So today, I wanted to talk to you about Dol-de-Bretagne. I know the place well and I go there regularly because my godfather lives there!

I will also take this opportunity to talk to you about its little brother, Mont-Dol, a place with 1000 legends…

In this article, you will find:

Dol-de-Bretagne and Mont-Dol: medieval cities to see

Here are some details about Dol-de-Bretagne and Mont-Dol, two must-sees for history enthusiasts.

Dol-de-Bretagne: a small medieval city

Dol-de-Bretagne, commonly called “Dol” by locals, is a small town located a bit inland. I still like to say that it’s on the Emerald Coast because the sea is really close! Plus, going to Dol doesn’t involve a big detour.

street in dol-de-bretagne

It is often said that Dol-de-Bretagne has a certain medieval charm, linked to its history. That’s why it is labeled as a “Small Charming City.” I love to stroll around because you can find architecture that is truly typical of old French villages.

The city has a rich historical past. It was founded around a monastery created by Saint-Samson in the 6th century. Then it became a religious capital in the 9th century, by order of the King of Brittany Nominoë. In the Middle Ages, Dol became an important trading town, leading to the construction of ramparts to protect it. It remained an episcopal city until the 19th century.

The Saint-Samson Cathedral is undoubtedly the most beautiful testimony of this religious past.

Mont-Dol and its legends…

Mont-Dol is a small village adjacent to Dol-de-Bretagne that rises to 65 meters in height. All the houses are located at its foot, but the climb to the top is worth it.

view from Mont Dol at sunset
Source : iStock

Legend has it that Saint Michael had a duel with the devil at the top of Mont-Dol. Saint Michael supposedly defeated Satan by opening a fissure with his sword into which the devil was engulfed. The marks of the devil’s claws on some rocks of Mont-Dol are said to be evidence of this mythical battle. But that’s not all, southeast of the Virgin Tower, you could also see the Archangel’s imprint. Taking a leap to reach Mont Saint-Michel, he supposedly left his mark on Mont-Dol.

I don’t know if it’s true, but what’s certain is that the view from the top of Mont-Dol is breathtaking! You can see Cancale and the magnificent Mont Saint-Michel, but also the marshes, a less known part of the region. The 360-degree view will not disappoint you, believe me!

What to do in Dol-de-Bretagne and Mont-Dol?

Stroll through the medieval city center

The main street of Dol-de-Bretagne is Grande Rue des Stuarts. It’s named in honor of the Scottish and English kings, whose ancestor came from Dol.

street in dol-de-bretagne

I love walking there because you can find many nice little shops. But when you look up, you can see how beautiful its architecture is. There are numerous half-timbered houses dating from the 15th to the 17th century.

There’s also the Maison des Petits Palets dating back to the 12th century, one of the oldest in Brittany! It has been listed as a Historical Monument since 2014.

All these colorful facades make the city particularly charming. Don’t hesitate to continue the walk in the surrounding narrow streets. Rue du Robinet or Passage des Bas-Celliers are particularly nice.

If you prefer shopping streets, I recommend continuing the walk on Rue Lejamptel. It also boasts beautiful architecture.

Visit the Saint-Samson Cathedral

The cathedral of Dol is truly magnificent! Built in a Gothic style in the 13th century, it’s really a must-see in Dol-de-Bretagne.

cathedrale saint samson in dol-de-bretagne

For a bit of history, this cathedral was built in honor of Saint-Samson, the first bishop of Dol and a monk who was one of the 7 Saints who evangelized Brittany.

When you look at it, you realize that the North Tower is unfinished. Some legends try to explain why, but apparently, it’s due to a lack of financial means!

I won’t reveal all its secrets, but I warmly invite you to enter inside; you won’t be disappointed!

Discover the Cathédraloscope

A funny name to talk about this place that aims to be “the center for interpreting cathedrals and their builders.”

The Cathédraloscope is located in the heart of Dol-de-Bretagne. It’s a nice visit if you want to learn more about the construction period of cathedrals.

cathedraloscope in dol-de-bretagne

You can also discover the different trades that worked there, from the architect to the stone cutter.

And of course, all religious representations are highlighted. Everything is presented in the form of videos, animations, and scale models.

Note that the Cathédraloscope is only open from April 1st until the end of August and during the All Saints’ holidays. The ticket costs €6.80 for adults and €5 for children.

My advice: don’t hesitate to go there with your children; an investigation, in the form of puzzles and games, can be conducted throughout the visit to make the walk even more interesting for the younger ones.

Take a stroll on the Jules Revert Ramparts

In the 13th century, ramparts were built to protect Dol. But over the centuries, the ramparts were left abandoned.

remparts de Dol de Bretagne
Source : ©SMBMSM – Dol-de-Bretagne

Since 2012, it’s possible to discover them again thanks to the Jules Revert Promenade, arranged in the city’s moat.

You can see the Tower des Carmes, which is a large artillery tower dating back to the 15th century, or the Tower de la Motte, which was restored in 1990.

It’s not very large, but there’s a nice view of and Mont-Dol. You can spend about thirty minutes there and discover a route that divides between a walk on the ramparts and a stroll on a particularly shaded artificial earth mound.

See the Champ Dolent Menhir

The Champ Dolent Menhir is a bit of a symbol of Dol. A bit like the ones Obélix carries, the menhir measures 9.3m and dominates the field where it stands. It has been classified as a Historical Monument since 1889 and is one of the largest standing menhirs in Brittany.

menhir champ dolent in dol-de-bretagne
Source : iStock

Where does it come from? We’re not really sure! One legend says it’s a piece of the Saint-Samson Cathedral, sent there by Archangel Saint Michael during his battle against the Devil (which I’ll talk about later). But it could also be a funerary or commemorative monument.

Access to the Menhir is completely free. Picnic tables have even been installed around it, making it a very nice place for an outdoor lunch.

It’s said that the Champ Dolent Menhir has regenerative powers! Just kissing it or leaning against it could heal back pain.

Admire the view from the top of Mont-Dol

During the ascent, you can see the Saint-Pierre church. Don’t hesitate to take a short break and go inside. You can see wall frescoes dating back to the 15th century.

view from Mont Dol
Source : iStock

The rest of the path is really pleasant as it offers magnificent views of the surroundings.

Once you reach the top of Mont-Dol, I recommend going up the Notre-Dame Tower. Not only does it overlook Mont-Dol, but it also provides a breathtaking view of the Mont Saint-Michel Bay. If the weather is clear, you can, of course, see the Wonder.

Visit the Moulin du Tertre

At the top of Mont-Dol is the Moulin du Tertre. This former flour mill was active in the 19th century and is also listed as a Historical Monument.

Tertre"s Mill
Source : Leday

Even though it hasn’t been operational since the end of World War II, it still has its original mechanism and could grind wheat if it were restarted.

You can visit it every day during the high season, as well as on weekends in May and June. The visit is free and conducted by volunteers.

Go Climbing on the Tertre

The stone from Mont-Dol was widely used to build roads and paths or maintain dykes. All the stones were extracted directly from the Mont-Dol mound, but in 1911, the Commission of Historic Sites and Monuments requested the closure of this quarry.

Today, it’s possible to go climbing directly on the old quarries. The place is freely accessible, so you can go there whenever you want with your gear.

Stroll along the White and Black Marshes

The marsh of Dol is quite unknown, yet it stretches over nearly 12,000 hectares! Located below sea level, it was covered by the sea several centuries ago.

It consists of 2 parts. The white marsh, made up of clay lands and marine sediments, is located to the north, while the black marsh, made up of peat lands, is located to the south.

The canals found there were once used to transport wood or fodder when it was not possible by land.

Today, it’s an ideal place for cycling excursions. There’s also the Tro Breizh, a pilgrimage that allows you to visit the relics of the 7 Saints who founded Brittany, which crosses through it.

Explore the Prehistoric Site of Lillemer

Lillemer is located in the middle of the black marsh. It’s a small commune dependent on Dol that has a real uniqueness! Remains dating from the Neolithic period have been found here, proving that a village was erected here 4000 years ago!

But 4000 years is nothing compared to the fact that traces of Neanderthal hunters dating back 110,000 years have also been found nearby.

These Paleolithic deposits were first discovered in 1873, and they have found remains of about fifty mammoths, deer, wolves, and even a bear!

The site is open during the same hours as the Lillemer town hall and is accessible free of charge.

cathedrale saint-samson in dol de bretagne
Source : Guy Ozenne

Where to eat in Dol-de-Bretagne?

The best restaurants to try in Dol-de-Bretagne.


A typical French restaurant, L’Évêché is quite bistro-style. The decoration is very cozy, and the restaurant has a heated terrace!

In terms of dishes, you’ll find local specialties that showcase the region’s products.

Le Dol’Mène Aux Saveurs

If you’re looking to have a good crêpe, this little creperie is a real gem.

I went there several years ago and loved the medieval decoration. You eat in a room with stone walls, which transports you a bit back to the Middle Ages.

My godfather recommended it to me again recently, which proves that the place is still renowned!

Le Bistrot

I haven’t had the opportunity to personally try Le Bistro, but it has also been highly recommended to me.

So, I’m sharing this tip with you because I know that sometimes we look for a classic restaurant that serves good bistro cuisine. That’s what you’ll find there!

Manoir de la Bégaudiere

The Manoir de la Bégaudiere is a castle that is usually rented for events. But I mention it here because every Wednesday evening, starting from May 8, they offer the Guinguette du Manoir!

The atmosphere there is really friendly, and you can enjoy good galettes saucisses! A stop to recommend if you’re in the area.

rue à Dol de Bretagne
Source : ©SMBMSM – Dol-de-Bretagne

How to get to Dol-de-Bretagne?

By Car

Dol-de-Bretagne is easily accessible by car as the highway passes nearby.

Here are some examples of distances from major cities:

By Train

There is a TGV station in Dol-de-Bretagne. Trains from Paris to Dol are rare, but there are some on weekends from Montparnasse station. The journey from Paris to Dol-de-Bretagne takes 2 hours and 10 minutes.

If there’s no direct train, you can take a train to Rennes and then transfer to one stopping at Dol. The journey from Rennes to Dol-de-Bretagne takes 35 minutes.

By Bus

There are no direct buses to Dol-de-Bretagne. However, you can easily take a bus to Rennes and then transfer to another one.

I hope this brief exploration of Dol-de-Bretagne and Mont-Dol will inspire you to see more and visit in person! Feel free to share your experience in the comments; I always enjoy reading your feedback.

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Sarah - Carnets Vanille

Hello! I’m Sarah, a Malouin at heart, living in Montreal for a few years. Carnets Vanille is an opportunity for me to combine my two passions, writing and travel, by sharing with you about the two corners of the world that excite me, Quebec and Brittany. I share my discoveries, provide tips to help you plan your visits, and also offer recommendations on the best restaurants and accommodations.

Plan your trip with my ebook “Discover Saint-Malo” !

180+ pages in PDF or EPUB about Saint-Malo and the Emerald Coast. Works on your tablet as well!
Buy for 9,90€

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Plan your trip with my ebook “Discover Saint-Malo” !

180+ pages in PDF or EPUB about Saint-Malo and the Emerald Coast. Works on your tablet as well!
Buy for 9,90€