A walled seaport notorious for the French corsairs (pirates) who led shipping raids on warring nations during the 18th century, Saint-Malo is now a small coastal town famous for its Breton cuisine and extreme tides. With one of the highest tidal ranges in the world, the city sees both menacing waves that crash against the ramparts and flat, wide expanses of shore in an average day. Though nearly three-quarters of the city was destroyed during World War II, the area has since been rebuilt and benefits from a consistent flow of English tourists excited to relax on the beaches. Authentic dining, impressive tidal swings, and a plethora of museums and churches keep the city consistently abuzz with activity.
Location: Famous seaport facing the English Channel
Situated on the English Channel in north-western France, Saint-Malo is a seaport in the region of Bretagne. Once a main port for merchant ships and pirates during the 17th and 18th centuries, the walled city now stands on an islet that links to the mainland with a causeway and connects at the inner harbour with a long road.
Business: Oyster processing and tourism
Though Saint-Malo specializes in the processing of food like shellfish and the manufacture of ships and machinery, its largest and most profitable industry is tourism. The coastal city is a summer haven for tourists from the UK, who only need to take a quick ferry ride across the channel to enjoy the beaches and museums.
Culture: Seashell museums and massive fortresses
Brimming with cathedrals, maritime museums, and granite military fortresses, Saint-Malo offers a multitude of cultural activities to indulge in. Visitors can see the Jacques Cartier Museum to read about one of Europe’s most prominent explorers, peruse galleries of gorgeous seashells at The World of Shells, discover the aquarium, or learn the city’s history at the Chateau Museum. For spectacular architecture, visit the St. Vincent Cathedral or the Fort National, the fortress that was used to protect the city against the threat of English invasion in the 12th century. To fully absorb its grandeur, take a tour when the tide is low.
Activities: Coastline walks and classic food
Walk along the city’s ramparts to see sublime ocean views that stretch past the islands and harbour. Or drive along the coastline and take your time enjoying the various stops and walking paths along the road. When the tide allows, spend a day at Sillon Beach marvelling at the sea’s beauty and power, take a boat tour in the harbour, or go deep-sea fishing with a local. For a day-trip, head north to see Mont St. Michel, a medieval abbey and UNESCO World Heritage Site situated on a rocky islet in Normandy. If your feet need a break from all the walking, stop in one of Bretagne’s cosy eateries to try the region’s specialty seafood and galettes (savory crêpes).