Saint Malo is an historic port which continues to be very busy. The port includes three marina areas with 2,000 berths and full supporting facilities, a commercial port handling the import of granite, wood, fertilizers, salt, animal feed and paper amongst other cargoes and a fishing port which, together with neighbouring Cancale, lands some 4,000 tonnes of fish a year. The ferry port has a year round service to and from Portsmouth, daily in the season, operated by Brittany Ferries
The heart of Saint Malo is the old walled town known as Intra-Muros (within the walls) which was extensively and faithfully reconstructed after the devastation of World War II. There are walkways along the ramparts which offer views of the port and the sea, and the streets are fascinating to explore, with street names which include ones which translate as Dancing Cat and Fat Calf. Saint Vincent's cathedral was built over 7 centuries (the 11th to the 18th) but was only finally completed when the spire was fitted – in 1987! The cathedral actually played a part in Saint Malo’s history as the “Corsair City” as in the 12th century Bishop Jean de Chatillon extended the cathedral’s sanctuary rights to include the whole town. You can learn more of the history of the town and of its pirates on the English pages at www.ville-saint-malo.fr . Other places to visit include the large modern aquarium on the southern outskirts of the town.
Turning to the surrounding area there is the different, but equally worthy of a visit, resort town of Dinard, which faces St. Malo across the mouth of the Rance. Amongst other events Dinard has an annual English Film Festival. The road linking the two towns passes along the top of a tidal barrage which is a major electricity generator helped by the large tidal range of this part of the coast. Further up the Rance is the attractive little town of Dinan to which boats trips run, passing through the lock in the barrage. It is definitely another place well worth visiting.
Near Dinan we visited a château with a zoo in its grounds, la Bourbansais. The children enjoyed the zoo (OK, I did too!), I enjoyed the château, the others didn't as they don't speak French, outside the château we found some old carriages looking as if they'd just been left when replaced by cars.
Just over 40km from St.Malo is Le Mont Saint Michel, with its abbey standing atop of a rocky island. Well, it was an island but is at present joined to the mainland by a causeway, however it is planned to cut this and make the Mont an island again. For those how don’t know it you can judge how “visitable” it is from the fact that it is the most visited place in France outside of Paris, and France is the world’s most visited country. Not to be missed if you are in the area.
Indeed there is plenty for the visitor to see and do in and around Saint Malo, including hypermarkets and a full range of shops for those who want to take advantage of them.
You can find more information and news about St. Malo on Saint-Malo.maville.com.
The N137 south from Saint Malo offers an excellent route south to Rennes and Nantes, with routes south from there, including the rapidly extending autoroute, to the Charentes, Bordeaux and the Dordogne. The rail link is less direct, a local line connects to the main line at Rennes, from where there are TGV’s to Paris.
|All photos not otherwise credited are Copyright © S Huddy 2001|
This site was last updated 16-01-2012