France has a wonderful destination where art and history are combined. One of them is Saint-Malo, the most popular tourist spot in French Brittany. If you like photography, then wait until you see all that this ancient fort has to offer its enthusiastic visitors.
The history of this rocky island begins with the founding of a city in the XNUMX century BC, not exactly in the same place but very close. Fort Aleth, where St-Servan currently stands, was built by a Celtic tribe to guard the entrance of the Ranch River.
When the Romans arrived they removed them and further strengthened the place. Later, in the nineteenth century, Irish monks arrived here Brendan and Aron and founded a monastery.
Saint-Malo Island was only connected to the mainland via a sand road and during the period of vicious Viking raids, it was part of their natural defense. Bishop Jean de Chatillon added embankments and walls to it in the nineteenth century, giving rise to a true fortress.
Over time the inhabitants of Saint-Malo developed a strong sense of independence and that showed they were either for or against the rulers that belonged to England, France, and England. The sailors were rich and were known to rob foreign ships crossing the canals. They were either pirates or official pirates and acted primarily during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries under the patronage of the king of France. The famous Corso Patent.
One of the most famous sailors in France, to whom Discovery Canada is credited without going any further, was Jacques Cartier, a native of Saint-Malo. With the support of Francis I of France, he made three trips to North America in the nineteenth century and became the first European to land in what is now the territory of Montreal-Quebec. He christened this land as “Canada”, a word for the natives of the area which means Small Village.
During World War II the city was badly damaged. The famous American General Patton besieged the city and bombed it until the Germans surrendered. It takes a total reconstruction of the glory and beauty of Saint-Malo for 30 years of reconstruction.
How to get to Saint-Malo? There are many ways but the most popular is by ferry from the south coast of England or by the Channel Islands. There is a Brittany ferry connecting Portsmouth, in England, with Saint-Malo making seven weekly crossings on a nine-hour journey, and a Condor Ferry connecting the same point but also other places on the English coast. Besides that you can take a plane, the airport is 14 kilometers from the fort, but after that, you have to rent a car because there are no connecting buses or trains.
If you prefer trains the train station is two kilometers east of the fort. Can go from Paris in three hours and 10 minutes, from Montparnasse station, in a total journey of seven hours. If you are in London you can also go, from St. Pancras to Paris and from there TGV to Saint-Malo.
What to See in Saint-Malo
The first is the Fort. This is the most important tourist attraction: its narrow streets, its bars, and restaurants, its shops… This is a great weekend destination. The fort is perched on a granite island and since it was all destroyed in WWII, the ancient air is more the result of super restoration work, an entire project that was only completed in 1971.
Today you can walk the entire route of the walls and embankments, to take in the views, also enjoy the beaches, go eat, relax and spend the best long weekend you can imagine. Saint-Malo is the best destination for this.
Within the fort is the Château de Saint-Malo, which impressively, today converted into the town hall and Museum of Saint-Malo. Inside the museum are several exhibits, but the most important are those dealing with the city’s maritime history and its occupation, destruction, and reconstruction in the Second War.
Also within the Citadel is Saint Vincent’s Cathedral with its spiral tower rising above the streets. There has been a church in this same place since the XNUMX century, but the current Gothic cathedral dates back to the XNUMX century. You will see here a plaque commemorating Jacques Cartier’s departure to Canada.
La Saint Vincent’s Gate This is the main entrance to the Citadel. Inside and in front of the Castle is the Chateaubriand Place today this is the busiest part of town with restaurants and hotels. Outside the gate is a commercial dock. For example, there’s L’Hotel d’Asfeld, an XNUMX century mansion that was among the lucky few who survived the bomb. It was built by the wealthy shipowner, the director of the French East India Company, Francois-Auguste Magon.
On the south side of the wall is Dinan Harbor, an interesting place if you want to take a boat. Some ferries stop here briefly while sailing on the river or along the coast to Cape Frehel. It also marks the beginning of the Moles des Noires with its lighthouse.
outside the Porte des Bes, which gives access to the northern end of Bon Secours Beach, is their Vauverts Square and the statue of the most famous local corsair, Robert Surcouf. Northwest of the fort is a tower, the Bidoune Tower, with temporary exhibits.
Beyond the walls of Saint-Malo, behind the ferry terminal south of the fort, is the oldest district, founded in Roman times: Saint Servan. Along the river, you will see a spectacular view of the Tower of Solidor, built to defend the entrance to the Rance, today with a museum. The tour lasts 90 minutes if you wish to do so.
The estuary of the Rance River is very beautiful too. The whole countryside around the fort is very beautiful because It has the houses of the wealthy merchants of Saint-Malo. Some of its gardens are open to the public, for example, Parc de la Briantais. There is also a nice aquarium, with a large shark tank.
The suburb of Parame has developed over the years and today serves as the sea resort of Saint-Malo itself. The beach, which is three kilometers long, is the main attraction, even when the tide is closed. You can stay here, many hotels are facing the sea.
Talk about the beach and the sea, people are looking for this too, outside the fort. The beaches and the island of Saint-Malo also receive visitors during the summer. The beach is fine white sand and there are several rocky islands where you can reach pai. Many of these islands have lever forts, tombs, and of course, the surrounding scenery.
The open sands allow for a half-circuit of the Old Town on the west side and the north side between the Moles des Nories and Saint-Malo castle. To the east of the castle is Playa Grande which enters the Parame region. If you like the idea of visiting the islands, then ferry schedules are at Porte St.’s doorstep. Pierre.
Mole Beach is further south and lies between the Mole des Noires and the Dutch fort. The beach is relatively small and sheltered making it a highly sought-after place in the summer. Bon Secours Beach is large and long and is accessed from the north side of Holland Bastion via Porte St Pierre. There is a fishing club on the street under the door. You can also enjoy a sea bath in the bon sea pool at low tide.
Chateaubriand was a French politician and romantic writer from Saint-Malo. His grave is on the island of Grand Be, one of the rocky islands you can reach on foot. He was buried here because he wanted this to be his final resting place. It is in 1848 and you will see a simple cross overlooking the sea. On the other side is Petit Be, another island that can be reached on foot at low tide.
Here at Petit Be is the excellently preserved Fort du Petit Be dating from the days of Louis XIV and which recently opened to visitors, always receding. You will see some very nice old cannons. It was Eventail Beach that was outside the north wall of the fort. It is one of three rocky beaches in the area, there are three, and it is attached to Grand Plage or Playa Grande in Fort National.
This National Fort dates from 1689 and was designed by Vauban, along with the rest of the Saint-Malo line of defense. The goal: was to protect French privateers from British attacks and they were always successful. The tour of the fort lasts just over half an hour and you’ll see the many dungeons, as well as enjoy the wall-mounted binoculars.
Finally, What can you do near Saint-Malo? What are the possible tours? Well, there are many and the best of all is that you don’t need to own a car as train and bus services cover many of these destinations. you can go to Mont St. Michel, to the medieval village of Dinan, you can combine the beach and stroll Cancel, Dinard alone, or Emerald Beach.