Saint-Malo is a historic French port in Brittany. Once the feared base of pirates (corsairs), heavily fortified against Norman (or English) attack, today’s Saint-Malo is one of the top tourist draws in Brittany. The star of the show is the atmospheric walled city (intramuros), largely destroyed in the second world war but painstakingly reconstructed.
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The corsairs of Saint-Malo not only forced English ships passing up the Channel to pay tribute but also brought wealth from further afield. Jacques Cartier lived in, and sailed from, Saint-Malo to the Saint Lawrence River, visiting the villages of Stadacona and Hochelaga that would later become the sites of present-day Quebec City and Montreal respectively.
The château of Saint-Malo, part of which is now the town museum. The Solidor Tower (map) in Saint-Servan is a 14th-century building that holds a collection tracing the history of voyages around Cape Horn.
The Privateer’s House (“La Demeure de Corsaire”, map), a ship-owner’s town house built in 1725, shows objects from the history of privateering, weaponry and ship models.
The Great Aquarium Saint-Malo (map), one of the major aquaria in France. The aquarium houses 11,000 marine animals representing 600 species. it the second most visited tourist site in Brittany.
Mussels (moules) >> fished in the place and available in any restaurants. Oysters (huitres) >> the best are from Cancale, a village near to Saint-Malo. In France, they are eaten raw.
The Intra-Muros area (map) has what is quite possibly France’s highest concentration of creperies and seafood restaurants. Most cater solely to tourists and are effectively identical.
! In smaller towns nearby, you can look for the lunchtime “menu ouvrier” (workers’ menu). Often there is little to no choice of dishes, but what you get is genuine French home cooking for half the price, if that, of what you would pay in a tourist centre like St Malo (or Mont St Michel).
Visit nearby Mont Saint Michel – a monastery and town built on a tiny outcrop of rock in the sand, which is cut off from the mainland at high tide. It is one of France’s major tourist destinations, and as such gets very busy in high season. Check the times of the tides before you visit! (Tide-schedules)