24 Hours in Saint-Malo

    À Saint Malo beau port de mer …
    – popular children’s song in France

    Seaport cities don’t always evoke the most flattering traveller portraits. Think Brindisi, Ancona, Bari et al. While not entirely short on charms, you have to dig a little deeper to uncover the grime from the gems in many a Euro coastal hub. Not so, happily, in Saint-Malo.

    The town in culturally vibrant Bretagne is a handsome microcosm of the foremost region of France. Brittany, wellspring of indelible Breton-Celtic music and cuisine, is wholly distinct from the rest of the country and a superb place to toss the map out the window (or, perhaps more suitably, delete the map app) and get lost. Just save 24 hours for Saint-Malo.

    Photo credit

    La Ville Intra-Muros

    La Ville Intra-Muros is where you want to be. The old walled city encloses the best parts of Saint-Malo and has a dramatic and indelible timewarp-like allure. If you only have a day and night at your disposal, don’t stray for long outside the walls.

    Where to stay: Best Western Hotel Central Saint Malo

    Grand Bé and Petit Bé

    Exceptions have to be made on occasion and the tidal islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé, which reside just outside the old city, serve as two prominent examples. Saint-Malo’s wildly divergent tides led to some fascinating and innovative architectural liberties to be taken at momentous times throughout the course of history. These two Vauban-built 17th century fortresses are proof.

    Cathédrale Saint-Vincent

    Saint-Malo Cathedral, or to be more precise, the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo, is a masterpiece and millenium-old national monument.

    Le Grand Aquarium

    Le Grand Aquarium – the Great Aquarium – is a fitting linchpin landmark for a small city so historically and heavily reliant on the sea. With over 350,000 visitors a year, the Saint-Malo aquarium is the second most popular tourist attraction in Brittany.

    Where to stay: Brit Hotel Saint-Malo

    Musée du Château

    Saint-Malo’s town castle is a paramount civic museum, with scores of pertinent exhibits and artefact displays to elucidate and enlighten on important aspects of Breton history and culture.

    Fort National

    Another pre-eminent Vauban citadel in Saint-Malo, the conspicuous Fort National is only accessible at low tide.

    Food and Restaurants

    Cancale oysters, mussels, myriad other bivalves and crustaceans, buckwheat pancakes (galetes) with sausage and buttermilk, cider, beer, apple eau de vie and honey mead (chouchen). The culinary landscape of Bretagne is rich, profound and substantive. Tuck into some seafood and beer at a convivial port-side brasserie (the more unremarkable-looking and full of boisterous locals the better) and check out the two Michelin-star restaurants in town: Le Chalut and À la Duchesse Anne.

    Where to stay: De L’Univers Hotel Saint Malo

    To get to Saint-Malo, most daytrippers from the UK take the ferry from either Poole, Weymouth, Portsmouth or even Jersey and Guernsey. The amaible city of Rennes, capital of Brittany, is 78 km south of Saint-Malo and a quick, easy commute. Meanwhile, Paris is a direct, three hour TGV ride away from Gare Montparnasse.

    Saint-Malo City Guide

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    3 comments on “24 Hours in Saint-Malo”

    1. Alam Yeksha Buana says on June 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm:

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    2. andrew trimboli says on June 29, 2011 at 9:25 pm:

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