Upper Brittany, Saint Malo!

As I am cruising in my dear Brittany, why not go up north to another department ,this time no 35 Ille-et-Vilaine and the wonderful fortified city of Saint Malo!

Again, I have written before in my blog on it but like to tell you more of the history and the intricate wall ramparts of this wonderful corsair city of upper Brittany! Bear with me ok

Saint-Malo is the main port on the north coast of Brittany. The name of the locality is attested in the Latinized form of  Macloviensem in 1162, then, Saent Madubugwu in 1282, Saint Malou in 1287 and in 1294, Saint Malo in 1304 during the revolution, the town was renamed Port-Malo, then Common-de-la-Victoire, then Mont-Mamet.

On the coast of the channel and on the right bank of the Rance estuary. It is located 18 km north of Dinan, 75 km north of Rennes and 404 km from Paris. Saint-Malo is the northwestern part of Clos-Poulet, a large peninsula bounded by the Rance, Manche and the depression of Châteauneuf.  The coastline of the Clos-Poulet is part of the Emerald Coast, stretching from Cancale to Cape Fréhel. Saint-Malo is bordered by Dinard, but is separated by the estuary of La Rance. The tides of the Bay of Saint-Malo are among the most important in Europe. They are caused by the concentration of water in the heart of a triangular bay between Brittany and Cotentin.

Saint-Malo is connected to Rennes and Paris by train. In season there are also links with Granville and Lille Europe (on weekends only). Many residents leave each morning to work in Rennes and return in the evening, enjoying two stops in the regional capital; In addition to Rennes train station, Pontchaillou station serves the Pontchaillou hospital, schools and the Villejean University campus.

The city center/ downtown with the historic city (old Saint-Malo), the city (old Alet) and the port, is formed by a complex coastline, with numerous reefs and marshes immersed in high tide, underwater tombolos, visible at the low tides of vivid waters , by islands or islets, many of which were fortified in the 17-18C such as Cézembre, Fort Harbour, fort de la Conchée, Grande Bé and Le Petit Bé, and the island of the Fort National.

A bit of history I like

De Canalchius (from the Old Gaul Canalch) became over time the intra-muros Saint-Malo. It’s on this one, surrounded by the islets of the Grande, the small and the National Fort accessible at low tide, lined with those of Harbour, Cézembre and Conchée in the studded harbor of multiple rocks, that the hermit Aaron welcomed a monk from what Will eventually become Wales: Maclow, Malo or Manail, the future Saint-Malo. On March 11, 1590, Saint-Malo declared its independence from the Kingdom of France and became the Republic of Saint-Malo. The four-year episode will end on December 5, 1594 with the conversion to Catholicism of King Henry IV . It is with the discovery of the Americas and the development of trade with the Indies; The shipowners became more numerous and characters of that period made famous the city, these were Jacques Cartier (discovered and explored Canada), and the Corsairs harassed the enemy merchant and military Marines, such as Duguay-Trouin, and later Surcouf.

During WWII, Saint-Malo and its surroundings were fortified by the Nazis as several ports of the Atlantic façade. The Festung (fortress) Saint-Malo becomes even as the entire coastal zone of restricted access. During the liberation of the city in August 1944, this Nazi garrison is actually located on the city of Aleth. These bombings and the fires they trigger destroyed 80% of the old town. The Nazis on the island of Cézembre will still resist for almost a month, only after intensive shelling by  land, sea and air, including the use of napalm bombs.

Things to see and do, and there are plenty

The start of the Rum Route, a solo transatlantic sailboat race, takes place every four years, and the arrival of the Transat Québec-Saint-Malo as a crew which also takes place every 4 years!

Saint-Malo is an active trading port, the second largest trading port in Brittany. It is composed of four basins, the Vauban basin, the Duguay-Trouin basin, the Jacques-Cartier basin and the Bouvet Basin. The port of Saint-Malo on passenger service to or from Great Britain, Ireland, Jersey or guernsey. The avant-port of Saint-Malo has two recent and efficient ferries terminals, the Naye Ferry terminal and then the Bourse terminal. Four lighthouses mark the various access channels: The Grand jardin, the Balue, the Bas-Sablons and Rochebonne.

St Malo

St Malo

St Malo

St. Vincent’s Cathedral, (see post)in Romanesque and Gothic style. It was the former seat of the bishopric of Saint-Malo until 1801. Dedicated to Saint Vincent of Zaragoza,and the  Evangelist Church of Saint-Servan; The Church of St. Croix; The Cchurch of Saint-Sauveur are nice ones to see.

The awesome here are the RAMPARTS:

The Porte Saint-Thomas, the first of the name, because there will be two others. It opens between two towers, the old dungeon, and the square tower; A second Porte Saint-Thomas is opened in the northern rampart, in front of the tower Quic-en-Groigne, allowing to leave the city. The second gate St. Thomas is destroyed with the old rampart and rebuilt in the new between 1737 and 1742. It is the third gate St. Thomas, which overlooks the cale and the Evantail beach  it still retains the old elements of the counterweight of its door.

st Malo

St Malo

The Grand Porte( big door), also called: the Sea Gate, because originally, the boats came to moor there. It consists of two towers with a firing platform with machicolations to quadruple heights. It’s the oldest door.

The statue of Our Lady of Bon-Secours, placed in a niche at the top of the door dates according to the experts from  the early 15C and seems to be already in place in 1439. The guard placed at the top, destroyed by a fire in 1661, caused  some damage requiring restoration and was rested and blessed in 1663. It is white limestone, and was polychrome. It suffered the outrage of time and people, thrown down and burned at the French revolution, it was finally restored and re-established. The original is now is in the shelter and is replaced by a copy. It has been credited with many miracles.

The Poterne de la Croix du Fief (Fief Cross), which disappeared during the first expansion (1708-1742), was replaced by the Porte Saint-Vincent during the expansion of 1709

The Poterne Brevet, destroyed in the second expansion (1714-1770), replaced by the Porte de Dinan, on the axis of it which happened to be at the corner of the current rue d’Estrées, the old ramparts, and porte de Dinan, giving access to the square.

The Poterne of Bon-Secours (1751-1871). In the event of danger, the poternes (small gates) was walled. The Porte Saint-Vincent, it was built between 1708 and 1710 and is part of the first expansion of the city called the Fief.

The Porte Saint-Louis, pierced in the curtain wall, in 1721, during the third expansion, it was opened only in 1874. It faces the Vauban basin, on the Quai Saint-Louis, and inside the city, at the rue de Toulouse and the Rue de Chartres.

The Porte de Dinan, in the 18C, called the Porte de la Marine ( Navy), or Porte de l’Evéche (bishop), because it was by this one that he made his first entrance into the city. It was built in 1714

The Poterne d’Estrées, opened in 1933, between the bastion of Holland and that of Saint-Philippe, opens on the beach of the Mole, and faces the rue d’Estrées. By Northern wind and stormy days, the water goes through there too.

The Porte Saint-Pierre, opens on the beach of Bon-Secours

The Porte de Bés, it overlooks the beach of Bon-Secours, and was opened in 1884 to facilitate the access to the Petit-Bé at the foot of which the steam boats arrived from Dinard. It was carried out in the Tower of Notre-Dame, also known as the La Découvrance (discovery). It is from this place that the watch saw on November 26, 1693, the English fleet anchored under the Conchée, ready to assail the city.

The Porte de Champs Vauverts, opened in 1879, it overlooks the rocks that surround the tour Bidouane, and allowing access to the square of Malo and Bon-Secours. Easy access to the Grand Bé  and Petit Bé islands

The Poterne aux Normands, its name probably comes from the rocks lying opposite the stones to the Normans. It was rebuilt after the bombardment and fire of 1944

The Poterne Jean de Chatillon, opened in 1757, condemned in 1871, during the opening of the Porte Saint-Pierre, it was reopened in 1958. She was called Poterne bon-secours , until 1971, and a poterne de la surveillance during the French revolution. It gives rue de La Crosse and allows access to the bon-secours square.

In continuation, other importants things to see are

The Château de Saint-Malo, (see post) which now houses the city/town hall, was built by the Dukes of Bretagne, its dungeon currently houses the Museum of History of the city and the Malouin country. Integrated in the northern part of the enclosure by the Porte Saint-Thomas, it separates-southeast of the Porte Saint-Vincent-by an interruption, the latter corresponding to the old moat which isolated it from the rest of the city.

St Malo

Like other permanent points of attraction in the vicinity of the ramparts, the National fort, north of the historic city, is accessible at low tide, as is the fort of Petit Bé, and the tomb of Chateaubriand on the Grande Bé island. The Solidor tower, which houses the International Museum of Long-course Cap-Horn; I even found parking here lol!

St Malo

The ancient Cathedral of St. Peter of Alet (in ruins); Vestiges of Gallo-Roman walls of Alet; The Nazi base of the city which houses the memorial 39/45, a place of remembrance dedicated to the fortifications erected by the Nazi army and the liberation of the town; and the fort of the city and its former Customs corps overlooking the Chemin de la Cordie, facing the Solidor tower and the Rance estuary; The Great aquarium Saint-Malo, with its shark ring, located on the outskirts of the city.  The carved rocks of Rothéneuf; The Manoir de Limoëlou, the manor of Jacques Cartier.

St Malo

Again, many posts and info in my blog on this beautiful fortified town but for simplicity and habit here are some webpages to help you plan your visit here ,and a visit is a must.

City of Saint Malo on heritage

Tourist office of Saint Malo

upper Brittany tourist office on St Malo

Tourist office of Brittany on St Malo

And there you have it , with this and previous posts on St Malo you should have all you need for a wonderful visit to an extraordinary city of Upper Brittany, Saint Malo.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

3 Comments to “Upper Brittany, Saint Malo!”

  1. It sounds and looks like another exciting and beautiful place to spend a few days. Thank you.


    Liked by 1 person

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