Only 55 kms from us, St Malo is without doubt the prettiest of the channel port towns and one of the ‘must visit’ places in the area. With its magnificent walled town (Intra Muros), beautiful beaches and cobbled streets, it is a popular tourist attraction all year round. St Malo dates back to the 14th century when it was originally a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance estuary. It became famous as a “ville Corsaire” – the home of corsairs and pirates, who often took money or ‘tribute’s from passing English ships. Chateaubriand, the writer, is buried on the island le Grand Bé, an island a few hundred metres from Intra Muros which can be reached on foot at low tide. Another Malouin island with a beautiful beach, l’Ile de Cézambre is accesible by a shuttle boat which ferries visitors to spend the day there. There is a restaurant there, but much of the 72 acre island is out of bounds to visit due to mines. The island was occupied by the Germans in WWII.
In 1944 Intra Muros was almost completely destroyed by the US bombers in WWII. It was beautifully re-built to replicate the original architecture, unlike many other coastal towns in Brittany which were bombed. Sadly the bombing of Intra Muros was in vain, as most of the German soldiers had retreated by this time to the huge bunker in Saint Servan. It is possible to visit the ‘blockhaus’ or bunker in Saint Servan where there is a very interesting museum.
Intra Muros was merged with the neighbouring towns of Saint Servan and Paramé Rothneuf in 1967 and this is now what we know as Saint Malo.
Unlike most towns in catholic Brittany, St Malo is open 7 days a week, and is always a wonderful place to visit, with more restaurants per head than any other town in Europe. It is best to avoid the touristy restaurants at the entrance of the town as they are usually over priced and not great places to eat. The further back into the town you go, the better and cheaper the food!