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.
An island on dry land
Mont Dol is an extraordinary outcrop of rock, almost resembling another island like that of Mont-Saint-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-Saint-Michel beyond. One of the two windmills on Mont Dol is sometimes open for visits.
Between the devil and the deep blue sea
This mount may well have served as a holy spot back in ancient Celtic and Roman times. Dark Ages Breton religious men seem to have enjoyed a quiet break up here and it is said that saints Samson and Magloire stayed atop it a time. Legend has it that St Michael fought Satan here, and beat the beast off, but that the marks of their fierce battle were left in the stone, hence the curious indentations in certain rocks.