Ramparts of Saint Malo
The stone ramparts of Saint Malo stretches 1,754 meters and wrap around the old town known as the intra-muros. A stroll along these ramparts is a walk through the history of this city which traces its origin to the arrival of Maclow, a monk from Wales, in the 6th century. Saint Malo is named after him.
Le Grand Bé
There are exits to the beach below from the ramparts. It's possible to walk to the islands of Fort National, Le Petit Bé and Le Grand Bé when it's low tide. But high tide has a way of rushing in and leaving unsuspecting visitors stranded on the islands. It's best to check with the tourist office for the times when it's safe to walk to the islands. The waters of La Manche may rise as high as thirteen meters and pound the walls of Saint Malo. The oak tree trunks lining the seashore and which form the breakwater can attest to the might of the waves.
On a cold and intermittently wet November day, the Grande Plage was bereft of people. I hesitated a bit before stepping foot on the sand which was packed rather than sugary loose. The waters had receded far out to sea. Only a man walking his dog was about. The three of us owned the vast shoreline for a spell. When I returned a day later, the shore was nowhere to be seen. And Fort National was once again an island bobbing in the distance.
Rose Window at St. Vincent
Construction of the Cathedral of Saint Vincent began in the 12th century. It was partially damaged during World War II (as was most of the old town) and carefully restored after the war with beautiful stained glass windows and a spire reaching 72 meters to the sky. The spire is so high that it can be seen above the fortications. Inside the cathedral, the light emanating from the rose window behind the altar is a sight to see.
It is said that Anne de Bretagne, the Duchess of Brittany, may have slept in this turreted stone house when she visited Saint Malo. Anne became the Queen of France twice - first after her marriage to Charles VIII and later to Louis XII after the death of Charles.
Saint Malo is a maritime city so it's only fitting that shop windows hail the mariner look and style. Even the bébé has his/her own marine inspired clothing.
Where to stay:
Hotel Best Western Balmoral
24 Rue Théodore Monod
35400 Saint Malo
I stayed at the Balmoral because it is across from the train station and I was going to Mont St. Michel early in the morning. I was happily surprised to have had a spacious and modern room which included a full breakfast. And the location is safe and quiet. It is a 20 minute walk to the old town or you may take the bus. There's a supermarket, several restaurants and a bakery close by. My favorite find was the Nutella panini at the bakery in front of the train station. It was the best.
How to get to St. Malo:
Take the TGV from Paris Montparnasse. It is a 3 hour ride and there's no need to change trains depending on the time of departure from Paris.
Brittany is of course famous for its crêpes. There are many different fillings to choose from--sugar, orange, Nutella, ham and cheese, and a host of others. Saint Malo is on the coast so seafood choices abound.
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Images by TravelswithCharie