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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Email from Ben: “I plan to climb Cradle Mountain when we visit the area in a few weeks – better start training”. So I reduced my alcohol consumption to one glass of wine a night (well, most nights) and did a bit of walking (on the flat) at weekends, so when we started our trek on a fine February day I was completely unprepared for what lay ahead.