Saint-Malo, a fortified city plagued by Breton winds, harbors the memory of navigators and privateers. But the citadel with its austere colors is also a seaside town whose beaches are planted with breakwaters. Saint-Malo, schizophrenic gem of the Emerald Coast, shines under the capricious sky of North Brittany. From there, we will admire the aristocratic brilliance of Dinard, another “pearl” of the coast.
A citadel facing the sea
A tour of the ramparts haunted by the memory of a certain Vauban allows you to take the pulse of the city. The moat garden extends at the foot of the Saint-Vincent gate, in place of the moat of the castle of the Dukes of Brittany. The castle of the Duchess Anne, flanked by medieval towers, contains memories of the successive seizures of power by the Duchy of Brittany and the Crown of France. The Grand Donjon hosts the history museum, devoted to the Saint-Malo navy (fishing in Newfoundland, privateers ...), to the figureheads and sometimes unexpected guests of the city. By 2022, a Maritime History Museum bringing together the city's collections should see the light of day.
Main entrance to the city, the Saint-Vincent gate connects the intramural and battlements. It bears the coats of arms of Saint-Malo and the Duchy of Brittany. There is also a diagram explaining the successive stages of construction of the ramparts. It was further south, at the Grande-Porte, made of two battlements towers, that the ships were moored. The goods were weighed on the Weight-du-Roy square. From there, we can see the Bassin Vauban, a marina. This is where the boats left to go fishing for cod on the banks of Newfoundland. Today, this port remains very popular with boaters for its equipment.
Au Bastion Saint-Louis The statue of the privateer Duguay-Trouin (1673-1736) sits enthroned, while that of the sailor Mahé de la Bourdonnais (1699-1753), discoverer of distant lands, stands on the roundabout of Mauritius. Near the Estrées postern, the first building rebuilt after the war, in 1947, allows us to remember that if the ramparts withstood the bombings of 1944, nearly 80% of the walled city was destroyed.
Further north, the "small walls" are a portion of the ramparts that are less thick. Cannons point out to sea at the Bastion of Holland, built in 1674 to protect the city from the Dutch fleet. A statue of Jacques Cartier, explorer who discovered the St. Lawrence River, is erected there. We see Grand-Bé Island, which is accessed at low tide and where Chateaubriand rests. A simple cross beaten by the winds stands facing the sea.
Close to Bidouane tower Throne the statue of Robert Surcouf in boarding position. Surcouf is an illustrious name for racing warfare, this form of naval warfare practiced with the agreement of the States which provided shipowners with “letters of the race”. The Latin word cursus (course) has also given the word "corsair".
In L'" Intramural », We dawdle near the Saint-Vincent cathedral, with its vertiginous rose window whose spire dominates the city. We won't miss the rue des Vieux-Remparts and its few half-timbered houses, nor the equally typical rue du Pélicot. The Hotel Magon de la Lande revives the saga of shipowners and privateers.
Stronghold and seaside resort
La city of Alet is located at the entrance to the Rance estuary. The Solidor tower, a former prison, now houses the international museum of the Long Cours Cap-Hornier, which traces the epics of navigators. During the Second World War, the Germans established blockhouses here, making the place one of the strategic points of the Atlantic Wall. Memorial 39-45 and its underground rooms are both an instructive and poignant memory of this time.
- Sillon beaches, which connect Saint-Malo to Paramé, to the east, made the city of Saint Malo a prominent seaside destination. They extend facing the national fort, bastion designed by Vauban and listed as a historic monument. Accessible at low tide, it contains sinister dungeons. The beaches of the Sillon are known for their breakwaters, these upright oak trunks, eroded by decades of swells and tides. They were used to protect the Sillon dune which made it possible to reach the fortified city. Finally, are also located on the beach of Sillon the Marine thermal baths, a paradise for invigorating hydrotherapy. On the side of Rotheneuf, we will not fail to pay tribute to the strange sculpted rocks which have made the reputation of the area.
No seaside town without the gentle art of living, and no Breton art of living without pancakes. But where does the tradition of buckwheat pancakes ? It was the Crusaders who, in the XNUMXth century, brought buckwheat from Asia Minor. During the Renaissance, buckwheat plants covered Breton land, and pancakes fed its inhabitants at a time when white bread did not yet exist on (all) tables.
But the palm of the Malouine specialty is undoubtedly held by the crackers, these dry biscuits "crunchy to the bite". As early as the Middle Ages, the Newfoundlanders loaded their ships with these cookies which could be kept for several weeks. Since 1923, crackers have been made by a small company from Saint-Malo (ZAC de la Moinerie). We discover the manufacturing secrets of this local institution.
Dinard, so British
The elegance of Dinard offers a striking contrast with the harshness of the ramparts of Saint-Malo. The villas of Dinard, especially on the tip of the Malouine, remind us that the “Nice du Nord” was a bourgeois seaside resort and very popular from the end of the XNUMXth century. The English aristocracy largely contributed to make it a high resort by erecting villas competing in beauty… or arrogance. The decor of Rohmer's Conte d'été displays sophistication and eclecticism.
Dinard always offers a wide range of activities: water sports, tennis, casino, etc. Lock beach keeps the memory of the “British Golden Age”: a plaque commemorates the centenary of the arrival in 1836 of the first British. This very chic beach is lined with tents with blue and white stripes. The Port-Breton park, to the south of Dinard, is home to many plant and animal species, some of which are rare, as well as a lake and a rose garden.
La Clair-de-Lune walk is a path on the coast, between the Pointe du Moulinet (from where the panorama is unique) and the Prieuré beach. It is lined with villas and hotels. In summer, the days end with classical or jazz tunes. The villas light up one after the other and the sun disappears in an astonishing shades of color.
For more de & rsquoMalo: www.saint-malo-tourisme.com
Dinard tourist office: www.ot-dinard.com
How to get there ?
From Paris to Malo by the RN137 (count preMalo in 2h35! Www.voyages-sncf.com
By plane Direct connections to Rennes from Paris CDG and many cities in France. Train connections from Rennes. www.airfrance.fr
WhereMalo and at CrêMalo intramural). A crê20 & euro Restaurants abound in rue Jacques-Cartier, along the ramparts, south of Porte Saint-Vincent. É L & rsquoV, at 99-46-78-57. Traditional cuisine from the Malo àVincent market. Internet: illenoo-services.fr.
D & rsquoretour, 10 minute journey. Internet: www.compagniecorsaire.com. TE138-100. DéMalo, at the foot of the ramparts.
Fort National: www.fortnational.com
Marine thermal baths: www.thalassotherapie.com
Saint-Malo crackers: www.craquelin.com
Les grandes marémarees.com
Start your journey with music, listen to our Routard Bretagne playlist.