Saint-Malo is a sprawling beach resort on France’s northern coast. Its many excellent beaches are extremely popular with summer holidaymakers, but the grey, granite citadel is what really makes Saint-Malo the most visited place in Brittany.

Despite a settlement existing on what is now the Saint-Servain district of the city since the pre-Roman era, the modern town of Saint-Malo grew from a 6th century community of monks. In the 12th century the town’s inhabitants moved to the island of St-Malo in the mouth of the river Rance (connected to the mainland by only a small causeway). A few centuries later they constructed the citadel’s impregnable ramparts.

Most of the 17th and 18th century buildings within the city walls (known as the intra-muros district), were actually built after 1945, since during world War II, Allied bombardment destroyed 80% of the town.

Many famous mariners have set sail from Saint-Malo including the explorers Jacques Cartier, credited with colonizing Canada and Jacques Gouin de Beauchene, who discovered the Falkland Islands. A more fearsome side to Saint-Malo’s maritime history is reflected by its nickname, the City of Corsairs, given because of the royally-licensed privateers who sailed from its port to terrorise the English Channel.

The city was also the site of a recent summit between Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac on European defence policy.


Saint-Malo is characterised is by its fortifications and a walk around its two-kilometres of ramparts is de rigeur for any visit to the city due to the spectacular views out to sea. The cobbled, narrow lanes of La ville intra-muros (which literally means, town within the walls) can often be crammed with tourists during the summer months.

The Fort of Alet in the city’s Saint-Servan district has commanded the approaches to the Rance since the Celtic era; although it has stood in its current incarnation since 1759.

Also in Saint-Servan, the triple Solidor towers attached to the Château of Saint-Malo, contain the town museum, which solemnly recalls Saint-Malo’s past of piracy and slave-trading.

The famous romantic, writer, poet and politician, Chateaubriand (who was described by Marx as "the most classic incarnation of French vanité") is remembered in the street of his birth in the intra-muros district, commemorated by a public square and buried on the island, Ile de Grand Bé.

His tomb is a popular tourist attraction; although visitors must take care not to be caught out by the tide rising over the causeway to the island.

Also part of the commune of Saint-Malo, are the beach resorts of Paramé and Rothéneuf. Every summer Paramé plays host to the International Folk Music Festival, drawing artists from all over the world, who play alongside traditional Breton bands in the town and along the sandy seafront.

Rothéneuf also possesses a sandy beach, along with Jacques Cartier’s 16th century manor.

The town’s Grand aquarium features eight giant tanks, which allow visitors to stand in the middle as the fish swim about them.

15km across the peninsula from Saint-Malo, the village of Cancale is famed for its oyster trade, where tourists can observe Oyster fishermen at work and buy their high-quality produce, fresh from the sea.


There are numerous boutiques selling souvenirs as well as local produce in Saint-Malo as well as the proliferation of antique dealers and art galleries that are often found in tourist towns. Various markets run throughout the week in La ville intra-muros and in the St-Servan and Paramé districts.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Saint-Malo is particularly renowned for its oysters, but other locally caught seafood such as mussels and scallops are served by its restaurants, along with typical Breton fare such as crêpes or meat and poultry dishes cooked with cider. Traditional French cuisine is widely available in the city, while a few international restaurants can also be found.

Despite Saint-Malo’s restaurants being among the most expensive in Brittany, they still offer reasonable value when compared to British prices. Meals can cost as little as five euros; although more exclusive establishments can charge up to 70 euros for a menu.

The eateries inside the citadel tending to charge the highest prices due to the high volume of tourists there and a large number of terraced cafés and restaurants line the ramparts of the La ville intra-muros between the Porte St-Vincent and the Grande Porte.

Nightlife in Saint-Malo is fairly quiet, although there are a number of discos, late night bars and a [ casino] as well as a theatre.

Tourist Information

St Malo Tourist OfficeEsplanade Saint-Vincent35400, Saint-Malo, France


Dinard-Pleurtuit-St Malo airport is located only 10km out of St Malo and receives regular, budget flights from a number of UK airports, including London Stanstead, East Midlands and the Channel Islands.

Rennes St Jacques International airport is only 70km away from St Malo and serves 26 French and 36 European cities. It also features budget flights to a number of UK destinations.

St Malo’s Port also receives regular services from both Portsmouth and Poole. is also Only a short ferry ride from Portsmouth, St Malo

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