Dinard, on Brittany's Emerald Coast, has long attracted summer visitors: the British have been holidaying here for a century and a half. The first hotel was built in 1859; others, and fine villas, would follow in subsequent decades. The often aristocratic visitors could enjoy not only the sea but also tennis, golf and above all, a fine social life: this was for a while France's premier seaside resort.
However, as the area's climate is not dissimilar to that of southern Britain, the beach alone was not enough to entertain visitors. Thus the town boasted attractions including a casino and elegant shops.While the casino had been established as long ago as 1866, it was rebuilt at the beginning of the twentieth century, along with various new and stylish stores.
While the town continues to be a popular and attractive resort, most of the original occupants of these stores built at the turn of the twentieth century have gone. However, their presence is still apparent in various forms. Opposite the casino is a reminder of a luxury jewellery store: A Van Cleef, who advertised with this fine pavement mosaic below the steps to their door.
Although the full name is not given, this was in fact the first Van Cleef & Arpels branch outside their famous store in the Place Vendome, Paris. It opened in 1909; the 'A' was for Alfred Van Cleef, who masterminded this expansion. He would soon open further branches in Nice, Vichy and Deauville.
Dinard fell out of fashion among the very wealthy thanks to the growing appeal of the sunnier Cote d'Azur, but continues to be a thriving resort. Many of its villas are listed, and they contribute to the town's unique atmosphere. Also fascinating, though, are these smaller traces of its past.