A town of free men
Saint Malo was born in Alet, one century B.C. The Gallo-Roman port made way for a city founded on an island in the 12th century. In the 16th century, Jacques Cartier set off to discover Canada and the fishing fleets reached Newfoundland. Roaming the sea routes, ship owners ensured the city’s fortune. They prospered behind the ramparts, which were extended by followers of Vauban. In the 18th century, the privateers Duguay-Trouin and Surcouf confirmed the prestige of Saint-Malo, whose banner flies above the French flag.
A tour of the “walls” leads from bastion to tower. On one side are the town’s narrow streets. On the other, magnificent views of the beaches, the port and the forts. From Saint-Vincent gateway, at the entrance to the city, the port basins and Saint-Servan unfold. Between Saint-Louis and Saint-Philippe bastions, the view opens onto the estuary and Dinard. Beaches stretch out at the foot of the ramparts As far as the Bidouane tower. When the tide is low, the sand dries out to the islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé. When you reach the castle, the large Sillon beach spreads out before you.
South of St Servan is the Grand Aquarium, where you’ll encounter 600 species of fish from cold and hot waters across the globe – including a tank full of sharks.
Inside the walls
Inside the ramparts, the walk continues among the tall houses. It’s hard to believe that most of them were rebuilt after the 1944 bombings! It’s tempting to take a break on a terrace straight away, on Place Chateaubriand. But it can wait, because you’ve got to see Quic-en-Groigne tower, Pélicot house built like a ship’s stern, the shipowners’ houses and Hôtel d’Asfeld.
Petit Bé fort and the national fort, which can be accessed on foot when the tide is low, are in exceptional situations. There is an unforgettable 360° view from these islets. At Grand Bé, you can pay a posthumous visit to the famous writer from Saint-Malo, Chateaubriand.
Other defensive features to admire outside the walls and on land are the fort of Alet and Tour Solidor. Saint-Servan is also the starting point for a lovely work opposite the Rance and the walled town.