Saint Malo, and its islands!!!

And there I go still moving along in wonderful Saint Malo. A nice town and one of our favorites on a long list! This is Bretagne at its best and we love it.

I need to tell you about the islands and forts found just at eyes view from the ramparts and some you can even walk to them at low tide! This is seafaring Saint Malo!

In its bay, which was part of the continental relief, sometimes turned into points in the water such as Cézembre Island, Conche Island, Grand Bé and Petit Bé Islands.  Of these four islands, Cézembre is the only one accessible by boat where boarding is at St Malo, at the Cale de Dinan or at Dinard. The crossing takes 10 to 15 minutes. The other three islands are accessible on foot or by ferry boat.

The island of Grand-Bé. This uninhabited island is located at the foot of the ramparts of Saint-Malo. You can see the tomb of the writer Chateaubriand, forerunner of French Romanticism, born in Saint-Malo. You will access it at low tide only. So check the tide times before you venture out on the island! At low tide, a 25-minute walk will be enough to reach the top of the island with a superb panorama of the Emerald Coast. It is on this wide island that the tomb of Chateaubriand is located. From Bon-Secours beach, Grand-Bé is known to travelers and literature enthusiasts, for being Chateaubriand’s last home. The name of Gran bé has several possible etymologies, the most common would be the Grand Bey, coming from Celtic and meaning tomb or Bé, in Breton.

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The island of Petit Bé was fortified in 1693 by Vauban, this private island is accessible on foot or by ferry boat from Grand Bé. A guided boat tour will allow you to discover the island and the fortifications of St Malo bay in the distance.  The Petit Bé is a fortified castle signed Vauban on an islet, for a few years it has been renovated to offer tours of this monument.

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The island of Cézembre ; once the tip of a peninsula, this island was home to Celtic monks from Wales and Eire and then served, during the time of the corsairs, as a depot for suspicious goods and was also a place of quarantine. In 1942, the Nazis fortified it and 20,000 bombs were dropped to dislodge them. A site now owned by the State, the island has only been partially cleared. The island’s beach is one of the few beaches in Brittany that is south-facing and accessible. Legend has it that it was in Cézembre that Maclou (Malo), one of the seven founders of Brittany, landed from Wales after seven years of sailing. In Celtic Cézembre means: Highest height.

The last island off the coast of Rochebonne beach and Varde Point is La Conchée, another military fort by architect Vauban. The owner has been renovating for several years to restore this marvel, which was used to protect Saint-Malo. Inaccessible all year round except for Heritage Day. Located off Saint-Malo, facing the  Grande Plage du Sillon, La Conchée is a military fort, built on a rocky islet rising 32 meters above the sea. It was built at the instigation of the king Louis XIV, who commissioned the military architect Vauban to inspect the defenses of the maritime facades of the Kingdom in 1689. From 1690, Vauban therefore commissioned the engineer Siméon de Garengeau to build several fortresses in Saint-Malo, with the aim of counter attacks from the English ships. Vauban had the audacity to build Fort de la Conchée on a rock head, which will remain one of his finest achievements. This building is now private property. You can admire this monument from the beach or during a sea trip. A webpage for the island fort of La Conchéehttp://www.fortdelaconchee.org/

The Fort National is a bastion located on an island offshore Saint-Malo. The island is accessible at low tide. Private today, the fort belongs to an old Breton family.  Formerly called “Fort Royal” and also “Fort Impérial” ,during the years of the First and Second Empire, the current Fort National was built in 1689 by engineer Siméon Garangeau according to plans by Vauban and on orders of King Louis XIV, at the same time as the ramparts of Saint-Malo were reinforced, of which it ensured the defense. The Fort National, another masterpiece by Vauban. If you see the French flag hoisted on the Fort, then dive into the 35-minute guided and narrated tour. You will relive more than three centuries of military life with its legends and dungeons, the immersion is total.

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Throughout its history, the Fort National was the object of a decision of the Sun King, of an achievement by Vauban, it was a place of duel for the famous privateer corsair Robert Surcouf. The story goes that Surcouf, on the lawn of Fort National, overwhelmed his first 11 opponents, simply cutting off the hand of the 12th and declaring “I spare you sir, because I need a witness”. The fort participated actively in the defense of the city during the English attack of 1693. It was finally a Nazi jail. This long history makes it a monument definitely linked to the life of Saint-Malo. More info on the Fort National here: https://www.fortnational.com/en/

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The tourist office of Saint Malo on its islands: https://www.saint-malo-tourisme.com/decouvrir/la-nature/la-cote-d-emeraude-et-ses-iles

And there you go folks, a lovely setting indeed , and gorgeous views from the ramparts of Saint Malo. The sand is soft nice great walk on sands reminds me always of my growing up years. A beautiful setting for two or family trips like us. Hope you enjoy the islands off Saint Malo!

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

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