Saint-Malo, France

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France - The Pirates of Saint-Malo

Once a haven for the pirates who harassed the English, Saint-Malo is now a fishing port and a destination for the 250,00 tourists that visit here each summer.

Much of the town within the walls was destroyed by fire in 1944, as the German army retreated. Restoration work has repaired and replaced, and the old protective ramparts are authentic.

Saint-Malo, France
You can walk out to Fort National at low tide. It's just off the coast. Known as the Bastille of Brittany because it houses a dungeon. If you see the French flag hoisted on the fort, it means it is open to visitors.

We arrived on a day trip by train from Rennes, and the old walled part of the town is a short walk straight down Avenue Louis-Martin. There are impressive entrance gates into the old town. At low tide, it is however worth having a walk along the beach to get a look at the massive walls that have protected the town for centuries.

Take a walk along the beach and imagine the pirates of Saint-Malo launching their ships to harass the English
Take a walk along the beach and imagine the pirates of Saint-Malo launching their ships to harass the English

There is a local history museum that celebrates the lives of some of the town’s citizens including Jacques Cartier, the founder of French Canada (you can also see his statue on the ramparts).  

You can also visit Jacques’ grave in the town church Saint-Vincent.

Saint-Malo, France
The grave of Jacques Cartier in Saint-Vincent Church. Jacques set sail from Saint-Malo in 1535 to discover the St Lawrence River and found Quebec.
Saint-Malo, France
Inside the church of St-Vincent
Saint-Malo France
Sunlight through the stained glass windows of the church reflect pretty patterns on the steps.
Saint-Malo France
An old drain cover in one of the narrow streets of Saint-Malo

We enjoyed our walk around the town, exploring the narrow streets and the small squares surrounded by little shops.

As an extra bonus, you can catch a ferry across the estuary to visit the smart town of Dinard. This way you get to see Saint-Malo from the water, and when you return, you can imagine you are sailing in to Saint-Malo on a pirate ship.

The ferry ticket office at Saint-Malo
The ferry ticket office at Saint-Malo
Saint-Malo France
A small square in Saint-Malo surrounded by shops.

For more information you can visit the official tourism website. And maybe keep your eye out for a feed of the beautiful oysters that are harvested in this area.

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