"Saint MaloThe Channel port of..." France Favorite Tip by karakal73

France General: 756 reviews and 684 photos


Favorite thing: Saint Malo
The Channel port of Saint Malo on the north coast of Brittany is renowned for its piratical past, walled city and nearby beaches. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was one of France's most important ports, serving both merchant ships and privateers alike. It was at this time that a system of walls and fortifications were built - largely to offset the menace of English marauders - but these defences remained weak, and the pickings rich. Flattened by the Germans in WWII, the port was faithfully reconstructed and is today one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.

Within the parameters of the Old City stands the Cathédrale Saint Vincent. Begun in the 11th century, the cathedral is the repository of an excellent collection of medieval and modern stained-glass windows. During July and August, it is also host to a number of classical concerts. Video-burdened tourists are a common sight strolling around the ramparts, which afford wonderful views of Saint Malo.

Squatting south of the Old City is the 18th-century Fort de la Cité, once a German stronghold during WWII. Flanking the bulwark's walls are steel pillboxes heavily pimpled by Allied shells while the interior, now used by caravanners, is theoretically off-limits to visitors but no-one will stop you if you walk in via the main entrance.

Saint Malo's other attractions include placid beaches to the south of the Old City and further along the coast to the north-east. The area has some of the highest tidal variations in the world, so expect a hefty jaunt to reach the aqua at low tide: the high-water mark is often 13m (43ft) above the low-water mark. Saint Malo is an excellent base from which to explore the Côte d'Émeraude, and the famous abbey at Mont Saint Michel can be visited as a day trip.

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  • Written Aug 25, 2002
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