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  • Saint-Malo

    Saint-Malo

    © Hemis.fr

  • Saint-Malo

    Saint-Malo

    © Hemis.fr

  • Saint-Malo

    Saint-Malo

    Saint-Malo. © Hemis.fr

  • Saint-Malo

    Saint-Malo

    Saint-Malo. © Hemis.fr

  • Saint-Malo

    Saint-Malo

    © Hemis.fr

On Brittany's Emerald Coast, the port of Saint Malo, whose history is as ancient as it is flamboyant, is today a seaside resort where people flock to see its spectacular high tides, yacht races and cultural events.

The jewel of the beautiful Emerald Coast, a town of privateers, traders and great men, Saint Malo inspired Romanticism. The tides in the bay, amongst the highest in Europe, inspire daydreams (and caution!) in those taking a stroll.

Major sporting and cultural events.

In an extraordinary location, Saint Malo hosts many nautical events, in particular the start of the Course du Rhum, the finish of the Transat Québec Saint Malo, a crewed sailing race held every four years, and the “Saint Malo à la Hune” used boat show. 

There is a succession of cultural events throughout the year: musical festivals including the Route du Rock festival, Classique au Large and the Folklores du monde festival; and literary events including the Quai des Bulles comic strip festival, Etonnants voyageurs and the Festival européen du théâtre lycéen francophone. 

Saint Malo, “City of Privateers?”

The legendary outline of the citadel, with its ramparts and narrow streets, rose up once again following its reconstruction after the Second World War. Saint Malo is one of the major tourist centres in Brittany and the most important port on the north coast of France.

In the Middle Ages, the walled city was on the border between the Duchy of Brittany and the Kingdom of France. Later on, in order to protect its commercial interests, Saint Malo turned into a city of “privateers”. These great sailors explored new sea routes and the town profited from the discovery of the Americas. Wealthy ship owners built magnificent homes called “malouinières”. After the India Company was founded in 1664, the ships of the Saint Malo traders accompanied the French Navy and led large expeditions to the South Seas. Protected by its ramparts reconstructed by Vauban, and completed in 1737, the port city remained impregnable.

During the Second World War, in August 1944, after incessant bombing, the town was reduced to rubble. Now reconstructed, today's walled town follows the original plan and spirit of the ancient city.

Cultural Landmarks and Great Men

Saint Malo retains many historic monuments and listed buildings from its glorious past, the majority reconstructed. Among the most visited include the Cathedral of Saint Vincent, the Ducal Palace, the Ramparts of the Walled Town, the National Fort, the Petit Bê Fort, the tomb of Chateaubriand, the Solidor Tower, the Gallo-Roman walls of Aleth and the rocks of Rothéneuf.

The wealth of the merchants can be seen in the buildings they left behind. Although the timber-framed houses with stained glass windows resembling a ship's after-castle have almost all disappeared (The House of Poets and Writers), there are still enough ancient stone buildings to show how wealthy the town used to be. (Hôtel d'Asfeld).

Famous figures from Saint Malo include Jacques Cartier (1491-1557), discoverer and explorer of Canada (Nouvelle-France), René Duguay-Trouin (1673-1736), corsair and vice-admiral in the French Navy under Louis XIV, Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1699-1753), navigator and administrator of the Mascarene Islands, François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), writer and diplomat and Robert Surcouf (1773-1827), corsair.

The Highest Tides in Europe

The bay of Saint Malo has the highest tidal range in Europe, in spring and autumn. They attract a great number of visitors, who come to enjoy an unforgettable sight. The Gulf Stream off the coast of Saint Malo enables the town to enjoy a temperate maritime climate, with a narrow range of temperature. Great Black-Backed Gulls, Crested Cormorants, Great Cormorants, Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones… many rare ornithological species populate the coast of Saint Malo. The flora includes 81 plant species, 60 of which are protected.

Saint Malo's Maritime Façade

Saint Malo's maritime façade that stretches for around ten kilometres, consists of a series of rocks interspersed with beaches of fine sand (Plage du Bon secours, Plage du Môle, Plage de l'Eventail, etc.) that are a delight for tourists. A coastal path (GR34) – created in 1791 to help Customs and Excise Officers in their struggle against smugglers – runs alongside the town. It enables both serious walkers and those taking a stroll to follow the coast, to enjoy the fresh air, the sea spray, the play of the light and the sun's reflections on the water...