Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dreaming of Dinan.

Back in June of this year, this lovely lady wrote a blog post entitled ‘Heaven Revisited’. Helen also emailed me to let me know that she had written the post, as she felt sure I would be interested and that I should read it (thanks again H!) As a lover of all things French, I certainly was interested!

The little shop in Dinan looked an absolute treasure – certainly my idea of heaven on Earth too. But even more exciting for me, was the possibility that I would actually be able to pay a visit to this special place. We were due to travel to France last month (Our annual holiday had been booked since last year) and so a quick type into ‘Google’ had me very, very excited!

It turned out that the pretty medieval town of Dinan was only an hour and twenty minutes from where we were staying. I printed out the map, showed it to hubby and said that if I only did this one thing for ‘me’ all holiday; I would be a happy bunny indeed! ;-))

On the Thursday of our week away, we travelled northwards and finally made it to Dinan. It’s a bustling medieval town with enchanting views at every turn.

We started off with a walk around the town centre, followed by lunch in one of the many cafés. Afterwards, the search began for the tiny haberdashery.
Going by the information on Google, we pictured it to be on a steep cobbled street, so we took the road down to the harbour…
and there it was…
I instantly recognised the inviting façade from the photo on Helen’s blog post…but can you believe it?
The shop was CLOSED!!!

I peered in through the windows and caught tantalising glimpses of ribbons, Deco buttons and lace edgings that would not have looked out of place in a specialist shop of the 1920’s. A notice on the door advised customers that the shop was open every day, but would be closed for two hours at lunchtime. (What is it with the French and their long lunch breaks?! ;-)) Phew…at least it looked as if I would still get to step inside, I just needed to be patient.

So tearing myself away from the seductive window displays, we made our way down the road to the river. It’s a pretty area with plenty going on and it wasn’t long before hubby spotted boat trip tickets being sold. Perfect! I suggested that he take the girls on the one hour tour and I would head back up the hill to the shop, where I could peruse in peace!

So that was the plan.
I waved them off before skipping up the hill…only to find the shop still CLOSED!!
I assumed that my luck was out and thought that I’d just peer in through the windows one more time, just to torment myself a little more :(
…and there it was
…a tiny hand written sign, saying that the shop would be opening a half an hour later than normal today, at 2.30pm.
that’s OK…
I can live with that…
that would still give me half an hour to soak up the ambience inside…
I sat down on a stone bench opposite the shop watching people negotiating the steep cobbled street, many stopping to peer inside the shop and looking rather sad that it was in fact closed. The blue shuttered windows echoed the skies over Dinan that day and I felt happy to be sat there on my lonesome, with butterflies twitching in my tummy with anticipation. (What can I say? I’m easily pleased!)

2.30pm came and went, and still the painted door stayed firmly closed.
was I agitated?
Yes, I was!!
Finally at 2.40pm, a clink of keys in the lock and the shop door swung open.
By this stage I didn’t need any prompting; I leapt up and walked over to the ancient shop with its cool and shadowy interior and stepped inside…

Where to start?
There were shelves lined with huge glass jars crammed to the brim with colourful spools of silken threads.
A rainbow of assorted vintage buttons filled miniature wooden drawers.

Bobbin shelves were stuffed with enticing antique tins,
fragile baskets swung from washing lines suspended from the ceiling,
and cards bound in antique lace edgings and ribbons filled boxes on the counter tops.

Madame could clearly read my enthusiasm for her riches and we struck up conversation.
She brought out ribbons and trims for me to sort through and we both marvelled at the delicate sequined adornments of many, that had so painstakingly been constructed by hand all those years ago…
a language barrier divided us, but a common appreciation for fine workmanship that has long since been lost, united us. It was very difficult to choose just a few items from the collections, but I finally made my selection…

It was then, as we exchanged a few more words upon payment, that I noticed a sign which read ‘no photographs’!
How could I share this wonderful shop with all the lovely bloggy ladies, if I couldn’t take a few pictures? Thankfully, Madame understood, as she has a blog too!
I was granted special permission to take some photos to share with you!
(Apparently, lots of people used to step inside the shop, take photos and then leave, having bought nothing – which understandably was frustrating for her. Its like a little museum inside, with many of the artefacts being ‘display only’)
Well, I did cause a little bit of a stir, and received a few horrified looks from some of the other customers as I snapped away with my camera, but I was unable to explain in good enough French that I had been given permission, so tried to be discrete!

It wasn’t long before my half an hour was up and I had to leave the atmospheric wonderland…we said our goodbyes and I left, blinking as I stepped back out into the sunlight again, and smiling to myself that this was indeed one of the highlights of our holiday…

My purchases from the day:

1930's handmade ribbon flowers.


Original seed packets.

Millinery flowers and sequined trims.

And a set of postcards featuring some of the treasures to be found in the magical shop. The diary was a gift from Claude.
Niki x


  1. Hi Nikki!
    What can I say!
    Either, than thank you so much for sharing another wonderful post!
    Ooh! How I wish to be able to visit that little charming store!
    Must put it on my 100 list of things to do... ONE DAY!
    And this wish, its going to be right on top! Lol

  2. Hello Nikki
    What a beautiful place! And what a wonderful little shop!!! I have not been there yet but it looks like it is a must visit someday kind of place. Like you, I would have been in shopping heaven. So beautifully displayed too. Your holiday pictures are fantastic, it looks like you had a fantastic time. France is a beautiful country and each region is so diverse in scenery. I love the architecture of Dinan. Alan would be snapping away non stop with his camera!
    Take care & enjoy the rest of the summer holidays.
    Isabelle x

  3. Wow! What a lovely little town, it was worth it just to visit the scenery. That shop, I'm swooning! xo, suzy

  4. Thank you for sharing this wonderful shop with us Nikki!
    You must have felt like in heaven there!
    xoxo Carola

  5. Nikki....what a treasure she has! Has the shop always been hers? how absolutely dreamy.....

  6. Oh Nikki, what an incredible shop! I saw it on Helen's blog but now your interior photos are just incredible! I don't think we're planning on going to Dinan on our Brittany hol, but I'll have to see if I can enthuse the rest of the family...

    What really intrigued me were your photos of the 'boites' - the fabric-covered boxes. I bought one for £8 in Edinburgh this June, and am intrigued that the next time I see them is back in France. I wonder if I have brought my 'boite' home, without realising it?

  7. Worth the wait in the end hey?! It looks so delightful - I'm so pleased you finally got to go in - I was worried the story would end sadly! The village is gorgeous too! So lucky! xxx

  8. I love your blog to pieces.
    But this entry excited me and I enjoyed a walk through this enchanted place, thanks so much for sharing this Adventure of your.
    I collect buttons, and this sweet shop gave me an idea to design my own card to sew my wee treasures on.
    Again, thanks so ever much for taking us all along on your lovely trip!

  9. I want to live in that shop! I could happily spent all day and every day in there. What absolutely gorgeous treasures!

    The whole town looks quite wonderful and well worth a visit. If only it wasn't so far from where we live in France, sigh.

  10. Nikki, I really envy you, Dinan is one of my favourite places in France! I haven't been since the early 90s, so have missed out on this beautiful Aladdins Cave! Thank you for sharing, it has been a pleasure to follow the links and see the lady's blog & website. A wonerful textile treat! Thanks xx

  11. Oh my goodness.......heaven in a shop, how I wish I could go its loks so beautiful!

  12. oh.... my.... goodness...!!! It was soooo worth the wait! What a wonderful piece of heaven!!!

  13. OOooooooh how beautiful is that place, I think I could stay all day in there and still find things to look and wonder at. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  14. Niki, I'm so glad you had a wonderful visit to Dinan. I holidayed there all through my childhood and found it to be a truely magical place. The shop looks beautiful and your purchases are fab, hope the rest of the holiday goes well.
    Love Sophie xxx

  15. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing. Stop by I am having 2 Giveaways. Connie

  16. Wow Niki what a fabulous shop. I would have refused to leave, the owner would have had to have me surgically removed, hahaha! How did you come away without some of those fabulous boxes? Were they not for sale or too expensive? This post had me immediately thinking of holidaying in Brittany next year!

  17. Anonymous11:51 pm

    So pretty and well worth the wait. I can't imagine how beautiful it all looked in person since the pictures are breathtaking.

  18. We were in Normandy a couple of weeks ago just on the Brittany border.We almost went to Dinan! I wish I'd know about this shop but maybe hubby is pleased I didn't!
    Next time!

  19. What a fabulous shop! I'd love to pay it a visit. I fear I'd be in there all day trying to decide what to buy! French opening times are funny. It took me a few days this summer to get used to them shutting over lunchtime...but by the end of our holiday I was quite getting into being able to shop after 5.30pm! Katie x

  20. Anonymous1:21 pm

    Oh, my!! I would love to visit this amazing shop! I am in heaven just drooling over your lovely images! Thank you for sharing this special part of your holiday with your family.

    I am off for more travesl on your beautiful blog...

    I hope you join me on my journeys over at Chateau Dumas for a millinery masterclass. I think you may enjoy that, too!

    Debbykay at Rose Cottage Gardens and Farm

  21. Funny we went to Dinan last November but I did not see the shop:-)

    Will make sure that I find it next time we are there as I am collecting old buttons, trimmings etc at present.

    Leeann x

    ps the photos are fab!

  22. Oh no....exactly the same thing happened to us Niki but its worth the wait isnt it? we spent a fortune...Claude is lovely isnt she....I feel all sad looking as I loved the little shop so much...I am so glad you had a lovely day...love Helen

  23. what an amazing place.. quite stunning & beautiful. Lizzie x

    PS Guess what is the name of the nearest town to where my in-laws live??????

  24. It is so lovely to think of you and the French owner despite language problems still managing to communicate due to a shared love! I adore that shop and those blue shutters! xx

  25. Julie - Oxford.1:42 pm

    Hi Niki, we are back from Brittany too and we did pass Josselin on our way. I think we were approx an hour and a half further on (did think of you when I saw the sign) and wondered whether you had found any treasures. We found a huge brocante alongside a river, I purchased a large old french mirror and an even bigger antique oil painting of the most glorious roses in a very distressed cream frame. Im not going to check how far Dinan was from us because knowing my luck it was probably close! Beautiful shop...I think I would still be there now if I had paid a visit. Glad your holiday was a good one, all the best Julie x

  26. I spent my holidays in Britanny too. I was in Dinan on Friday the 7th of August 2009 but unfortunately I spend my time late in the afternoon and the shop was closed! I took a picture of the from window, the shop is amazing but I didn't have the chance to come back the day after. It is im my heart and I will come back one day. Dinan is in my heart as well, it is a marvelous little town!
    Thanks for sharing such nice pictures of the shop!

  27. OMG!!! What a lovely blog you have! There is SOOO much to look at, and everything is just so way beautiful! I enjoyed you tour around this amazing little shop, I only wish I could have been there myself!!! Your blog is pure EYE CANDY!!!! I will enjoy visiting again and again! Hugs, Paulette :o

  28. You really make it feel like I am in the shop as well, great photography! This is so special and fun. Blessings.

  29. I just found your blog and was thrilled with the wonderful tour of that nice shop in France. I sort of feel like I got to take a short holiday. Thank you for the nice pictures and post.

  30. And only an hour away from us...must visit!

  31. Wow - So many pretty things! Thanks for sharing your trip.

  32. Guenievre11:01 am

    Bonjour de France !
    I'm a French woman and I've just discovered your blog ... and see a post about Dinan ! I was born and lived in Dinan for 20 years. My parents always live there and we spent Christmas there. I know well the shop "Fleur de lin et bouton d'or", I sometimes bought vintage laces and buttons there. I love it.
    The "rue du Jerzual" is very hard isn't it ?..
    I spent holidays in Wales two years ago and "visited" the vintage shop in Hay on Wye ...lol.
    Le "monde est petit"
    PS : sorry for the mistakes I made ...


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx