Destination Inspiration: Saint-Malo, Brittany, France
The ancient port town of Saint-Malo is a highlight of any trip to Brittany. While its famous chateau draws photographers and lovers of heritage travel, there’s little quite like gazing over the English Channel from the most dramatic beaches of France’s west coast.
13 July, 2020
A web of age-old streets give way to golden sands in Saint-Malo, where a historic cityscape is framed by dramatic shores. Medieval walls draw lovers of history, but this is a place that's just as good for aesthetes. Fill your days with strolls around the famous ramparts, snacking on local galettes or dipping in and out of the serene shores.
Saint-Malo, Brittany, France
Famed for its postcard-worthy coastline, this small French town clings to the western edge of Brittany. Originally built as a defence against pirates and other seafaring enemies, Saint-Malo is characterised by history-drenched medieval ramparts, caressed by sapphire waves - though you'll find some great boutiques tucked along its cobbled streets too.
To appreciate all its glory, take the 2km walk around the ramparts. As you lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow streets, stop by Maison du Québec, where you'll find out about St-Malo's role in the founding of Canada. Hankering for a hike? Climb to the top of the great keep of the 13th-century Château de Saint-Malo to be rewarded with some fetching vistas.
Flooded with cafés, restaurants and outdoor terrace bars, the cobbled Place Chateaubriandhead is prime pootling territory. Once you've finished scoffing crêpes and gulping a local cider, peruse stalls of local artist paintings and keepsakes.
The beaches of Saint-Malo need little explanation, but we recommend exploring them by boat when the tide is in - several trips are available. If you're eager for a longer ride, there are regular trips to the town of Dinan.
Where to stay?
Try the seaside hotel of Castelbrac. Located just outside of Saint-Malo (half an hour by car or taxi), this bayfront property is suffused with sea air. Don't miss a paddle in the slender pool that's carved into the face of the cliff.
Where to go for dinner…
Book a table at the Bistro Autour du Beurre Save, where you'll taste the coveted handmade cheeses and butter of the chef Jean-Yves Bordier. Head to the shop next door to stock up on some supplies for the journey home.
And for a drink…
Visit La Part des Anges and relish every last drop of its French plonk.
Who to take with you
Take that friend who manages to convince you to visit the beach even on a rainy day. History lovers will alsop appreciate this seaside city.
When to go
During the summer, when the weather is sunny and festivals are in full swing. Plan your trip in tandem with July's World Folklore Festival - expect lots of costumes, dancing and storytelling.
Essentials to pack
This light Odyssee Fennwood crepe kaftan is perfect for throwing over your swimming costume for a wander along the beach.
How to get there
With the dock just a short walk from the centre, Saint-Malo is best reached by boat. If you're prone to sea legs, fly to Dinard Airport, from where it's a 25-minute drive into town.