The facades and towers that emerge from the fortifications give to Saint-Malo its characteristic silhouette. To approach the city of Saint-Malo, the first thing to do is to walk the coastal path and enjoy the breathtaking views.
The walk along the ramparts jumps from bastion to tower. On one side, the narrow streets of the city and, on the other, magnificent views of the beaches, the port and the forts. From the Saint-Vincent gate, at the entrance of the citadel, the harbor inlets and Saint-Servan unfold. Between the bastions of Saint-Louis and Saint-Philippe, the view opens onto the estuary and Dinard. The beaches follow one after the other at the foot of the ramparts until reaching the Bidouane tower.
At low tide, a sandy corridor connects the mainland with the islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé. In front of the castle stretches the large beach of Sillon. What to see:
- The urban wall is composed of towers from the 14th and 15th centuries, curtains and bastions from the 17th and 18th centuries.
- The castle with its great keep from 1424, the general tower from 1475, the Quic-en-Groigne tower (1498 – 1501) and the 16th century tower des Dames and des Moulins.
- The national fort, built in 1689 by Vauban and Garangeau.
- The Petit Bé, “the best and the most beautiful of all our forts”, Vauban 1695
- The Saint-Vincent cathedral
- The Solidor tower, triple turret of the 16th century
- The fort of the Cité d’Alet, from the 18th century
- The churches of Sainte-Croix and Saint-Ideuc
INSIDE THE WALLS
Walls inside, the walk continues among towering buildings. When you admire their style it is hard to believe that most of them were rebuilt after the bombings of 1944. From the entrance to the city you are tempted to stand on a terrace on the Place Chateaubriand. But you have to know how to restrain yourself. The Quic-en-Groigne tower, the Pélicot house built like the rear castle of a ship, the shipowners’ houses and the heights of the Hotel d’Asfeld await you.
When the tide goes out, you can reach the Petit Bé fort and the national fort, located in exceptional places. From these islets there is an unforgettable 360° view. At the Grand Blé, you can pay a posthumous visit to Saint-Malo’s most famous writer: Chateaubriand.
Other defensive elements to be highlighted outside the ramparts and on the mainland are the fort of the citadel of Alet and the Solidor Tower. Saint-Servan is also the starting point of a nice walk along the Rance river and the walled city.
HOW TO GET TO SAINT-MALO
From Rennes, calculate about 55 minutes by TER regional train or by car. Saint-Malo has the advantage of direct TGV trains from Paris, with a journey time of about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Do you prefer to fly? Regular and low-cost airlines land at Dinard airport, located 13 km from Saint-Malo.
By car you can park in one of the many parking around the city or inside the wall, the cost is not so high (2h = 2€).