We arrived late at night in the picturesque medieval town after a heavy downpour. The streets were quiet, dimly lit with rays of light reflecting off the damp cobblestone pathways. My phone told me that the hotel was just a minute walk away - the town was so small that my little blue dot moved at astonishing rates.
We passed by a little crêperie, and were reminded that crêpes were born in this region of France. Despite no signs of civilization on the streets, inside the restaurant several people were savoring their meals, engaged in intimate conversation. Coming from New York, it's amazing how only certain businesses would only open at certain hours during the day. Life was to be enjoyed, and business could wait.
Hotel Arvor appeared to be a small family business, with warm dark rustic decor in line with the town's traditions. I noticed two goldfish swimming in a bowl and a guestbook with cursive French written all over it. We were led to the top floor with a room with slanted walls and a small window in it. It was quiet and getting late so we turned up the heat, called it a night and climbed under the warm king-size covers.
The ringing of the church bell woke us up at exactly 9AM. It was a quiet Sunday morning, cool and a bit damp after a night of rain. All stores were closed, as they all do in France on Sundays. So we decided to head to the port for brunch.
It was a bit of a descent all the way down to the river. The sun was rising, casting a warm glow onto the town. The stone paths were still a bit slippery so we were careful as we strolled along, all the while observing the intricate architectural styles of the buildings as well as boutiques of art and paintings inside.
There was something about the quiet, peacefulness of this town after rainfall that made me feel so calm, refreshed and happy. Life was simple. There was no war. We lived in peace and respected other forms of life on Earth. And they rewarded us with the most precious resources there are: clean air and fresh water.
Soon enough, we had arrived at the bottom of the valley, facing nothing but this brilliant, beautiful river in front of us. A bridge crossed to the other side. On the right, the rising sun shone through concave half circles of a giant aqueduct.
We strolled along and were charmed by the beauty of this picturesque town. There were few tourists besides us, but I wondered how long it would remain that way. Today, so many of the best cities in the world have been forever changed by tourism. Shops and boutiques have lost their authenticity, catering more to tourists than their own people. Souvenirs are made in factories and no longer genuine. This was the dark side of globalization. The lost of cultures, languages and ways of life. And I knew this was happening everywhere around the world, especially in Asia. The rise and fall of civilizations is nothing but another case of history repeating itself. Was it an inevitable fact of life?
We sat down at a crêperie for our morning coffee. An old man came out and greeted us with a big smile. We ordered two café crèmes but for food, they only served crêpes, so the old man recommended that we go buy something down the street. Can we eat it here? Sure, he said with a smile. People were so nice in this town.
And so we sat there outside eating and people watching. It was only 55 degrees but the sun wrapped us in a coat of glorious heat that felt just right. Nearby, we watched a boy and his father fishing while two guys kayaked through the waters.
Finally, we decided it was time to walk around a bit more. Dinan is a walled city so we followed a map of suggested paths to see the surrounding fortresses.
It felt like we were ascending into the sky.
and so we walked further
Later, we visited a castle by the town. Inside, we went down into the dungeons and I saw a living well for the first time. Water so fresh that it sparkled blue even under a faint glow of light. On the second floor, there was a painting of what the river used to look like in the 1870s. And we realized, so many things had changed yet so much remained the same.