France has beautiful destinations where art and history are combined. One of them is Saint Malo, the most popular tourist spot in French Brittany. If you love photography, then wait until you see all that this ancient citadel has to offer its enthusiastic visitors.
Today, what to see in Saint Malo, France.
The history of this rocky island starts with the foundation of a city in the XNUMXst century BC, not exactly in the same place but very close. Aleth Fort, where St-Servan stands today, was built by a celtic tribe to guard the entrance of the River Rance.
When the romans arrived they displaced them and further fortified the place. Time after, in the XNUMXth century, Irish monks arrived here Brendan and Aron, and established a monastery.
The Island Saint-Malo is only connected to the mainland by a sand road and during the period of violent Viking raids that was part of their natural defense. Bishop Jean de Chatillon added embankments and walls in the XNUMXth century, giving rise to a true citadel.
Over time the inhabitants of Saint Malo developed a strong sense of independence and that shows them for or against the rulers that Britain, France, and England had. Its sailors were wealthy and were known to rob foreign ships that ventured through the canal. In fact, they were corsairs or official piratess, and acted mainly during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries under the protection of the king of France. The famous Patent of corso.
One of France's most famous sailors, whom Discovery of Canada is credited without going any further, it is Jacques Cartier, a native of Saint Malo. With the support of Francis I of France, he made three trips to North America in the XNUMXth century and was the first European to land in what is now the Montreal-Quebec area. He baptized these lands as "Canadá", a word from the original people of the area and which means small village.
During World War II the city was badly damaged. It was the well-known American General Patton, who besieged the town and super-bombed it until the Germans surrendered. The total reconstruction of the glory and beauty of Saint Malo required 30 years of reconstruction.
How to go 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 are the Brittany ferries that connect Portmouth, in England, with Saint Malo making seven weekly crossings in a nine-hour trip, the Condor Ferries that connect the same points but also other places on the English coast. On the other hand you can go by plane, the airport is 14 kilometers from the citadel, but after that you have to rent a car because there is no bus or train that connects.
If you prefer the train the railway station is two kilometers east of the citadel. Can go from Paris in a trip of three hours and 10 minutess, 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 the TGV to Saint Malo.
What to see in Saint Malo
The first is the Citadel. It is the most important tourist attraction: its narrow streets, its bars and restaurants, its shops… It is a great weekend destination. The citadel is perched on the granite island and since everything was destroyed in World War II, the ancient air is more the result of a super restoration job, a whole project that was only completed in 1971.
Today you can walk the entire route of the walls and embankments, to enjoy the views, also enjoy its beaches, go out to eat, relax and spend the best long weekend you can imagine. Saint Malo is the best destination for this.
Inside the citadel is the Château de Saint Malo, impressive, today converted into the town hall and Museum of Saint Malo. Inside the museum there are several exhibitions, but the most important is the one that deals with the maritime history of the city and the occupation, destruction and reconstruction in the Second War.
Also inside the Citadel is the Cathedral of Saint Vincentt with its spiral tower rising above the streets. There has been a church on this same spot since the XNUMXth century, but the current Gothic cathedral is from the XNUMXth century. You will see here a plaque commemorating Jacques Cartier's departure for Canada.
La Saint Vincent's Gate It is the main entrance to the Citadel. Inside and in front of the Castle is Place ChateaubriandToday the liveliest part of town with restaurants and hotels. Outside the gate are the commercial docks. For example, there is the L'Hotel d'Asfeld, an XNUMXth century mansion who is counted among the lucky few who survived the bombs. It was built by a wealthy shipowner, director of the French East India Company, Francois-Auguste Magon.
On the south side of the walls is Port of Dinan, an interesting place if you want to take a boat ride. There are ferries that stop here briefly when cruising up the river or along the coast to Cape Frehel. It also marks the beginning of Moles des Noires with its lighthouse.
Beyond Porte des Bes, which gives access to the northern end of the Bon Secours Beach, are they Vauverts Fields and the statue of the most famous local corsair, Robert Surcouf. Northwest of the ramparts is a tower, the Bidoune Tower, with temporary exhibitions.
Outside the walls of Saint Malo, behind the ferry terminal in the south of the citadel, is the oldest district, founded in Roman times: Saint Servan. Along the river you will see the spectacular Solidor Tower, built to defend the entrance to the Rance, today with a museum. The tour lasts 90 minutes if you want to do it.
The Rance River estuary is very beautiful too. The entire countryside around the citadel is very picturesque as It has the houses of the rich merchants of Saint Malo. some have its gardens open to the public, for example, Parc de la Briantais. There is also the great aquarium, with its huge shark tank.
The suburb of Parame it has grown over the years and today functions as Saint Malo's own marine resort. Its beach is three kilometers long, it is its main attraction, although when there is high tide it is covered. You can stay here, there are many hotels facing the sea.
Speaking of beaches and sea, people look for this too, beyond the citadel. The beaches and islands of Saint Malo also receive visitors during the summer. Its beaches are of fine white sand and there are a handful of rocky islands that you can reach foot. Many of these islands they have old fortificationss, tombs and of course, great views of the surroundings.
The exposed sand makes it possible to walk the half circuit of the Old Town on the west side and on the north side between Moles des Nories and the castle of Saint Malo. To the east of the castle is Playa Grande which enters the district of Parame. If you like the idea of visiting the islands, then the ferry schedule is at the door of Porte St. Pierre.
The Mole Beach it is far to the south and rests between the Mole des Noires and the bastion of Holland. The beach is relatively small and sheltered so it is a highly sought after spot in the summer. Bon Secours Beach is big and long and is accessed from the north side of Holland Bastion via the Porte St Pierre. There's a fishing club on the ramp below the door. You can also enjoy sea baths in the bon sea pool when there is 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 that you can reach on foot. He was buried here because he wanted this to be his final resting place. It was in 1848 and you will see a simple cross that looks at the sea. On the other hand is Petit Be, another island that can be reached on foot if there is low tide.
Here in Petit Be is the very well preserved Fort du Petit Be dating from the times of Louis XIV and which has recently opened to visitors, always at low tide. You will see some very good old cannons. The Eventail Beach it is outside the north walls of the citadel. It is one of the three rockiest beaches in the area, there are three, and it is attached to the Grand Plage or Playa Grande at the Fort National.
This National Fort dates from 1689 and was designed by Vauban, along with the rest of Saint Malo's defense line. Its objective: protect French privateers from English raids and they were always successful. The tour of the fort lasts just over half an hour and you will see many underground chambers, as well as enjoy their binoculars posted on the walls.
Finally, What can you do near Saint Malo? What are the possible excursions? Well, there are many and the best of all is that you don't have to have a car because the train and bus service covers many of these destinations. you can go to the Mont St. Michel, to the medieval village of Dinan, you can combine beaches and walks through Cancale, Dinard himself or the Emerald coast.