There are some towns whose names conjure up an image of ocean spray and fresh sea air : Saint-Malo, standing proudly with its walled town on the Rance Estuary, is one of these magical places !
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Saint-Malo : A history with lots of twists and turns !
The local inhabitants are extremely proud of their history and their ancestry - they are ‘Malouins’ first and then Bretons. Visiting Saint-Malo is an adventure, full of hidden secrets and wonderful places which our owners are always delighted to share so that you too can be a Malouin at heart for a short time !
In the 12th century, the Gallo-Roman port of Alet gradually made way for a village founded on a neighbouring islet and so it was that Saint-Malo settled on its current site and built its first surrounding wall. In the 16th century, Jacques Cartier left to explore Canada and the Newfoundland cod banks became the new Eldorado of fishing ! Local ship owners, referred to as « Ces Messieurs de Saint-Malo (Those Gentlemen of Saint-Malo) », brought wealth to the town. The present walls were designed by Garangeau, a disciple of Vauban, in the 18th century at a time when tension with our British neighbours was at their peak and protecting the town was of prime importance. This was also the era of privateers like Duguay-Trouin et Surcouf ! So, if you are wondering what the difference is between a pirate and a privateer…Privateers are authorized by the King to launch attacks on all ships flying an enemy flag in time of war and especially those carrying cargo.
A Walk around the Walls
Saint-Malo The walled town
Inside the ramparts, narrow streets lead you between tall houses. In 1944 however, Saint-Malo was a ruin with 80% of its buildings destroyed. Thanks to the devotion and determination of its inhabitants and the Mayor at the time, Saint-Malo was rebuilt exactly as it was before, albeit with a few concessions to modern life. After walking around the ramparts, enter the town through the Porte Saint-Vincent gateway and sit down at a pavement café on the Place Chateaubriand. Feeling refreshed, off you go to discover the Tour Quic-en-Groigne, the Maison Pélicot, ship owners’ houses and the many storeys of the Hotel d'Asfeld mansion !
Beautiful places to see outside the walls too…
On the outskirts of the town stands the Grand Aquarium of Saint-Malo where you can discover the undersea world and see 11,000 marine creatures of 600 different species in 46 tanks.
Saint-Malo comprises many different districts. Saint-Servan, for example, is the starting point for a lovely walk opposite the Rance and the walled town. It is home to the Tour Solidor, a fortified keep of three towers joined by little curtain walls. Built on a rocky promontory on the estuary of the Rance, it served as a watchtower for shipping on the estuary.
How to get to Saint-Malo
Saint-Malo is now only 2¼ hours from Paris by TGV train ! It is, of course, easy to get to by car from Rennes, via the N137 dual-carriageway (80km). The nearest airport at Dinard-Pleurtuit is 15km from the walled town."