The Tour Solidor at Saint Malo!

Again reviewing old posts to update/revise text/links , I have come across many sights not really mentioned in those posts or briefly. They deserve more , so therefore, here is my take on the Tour Solidor or tower in Saint Malo! This is in Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France!

The Tour Solidor (tower) is located at the mouth of the Rance, in the district of Saint-Servan and was built in 1382 by Duke Jean IV of Brittany in order to control the city of Saint-Malo. At a time when the city of Saint-Malo was rebellious to his authority. In particular, taxes should be levied on the goods transported. Its name is derived from steir and dor which in Breton means “door of the river”.

The Solidor tower was built on an already fortified site, the Tour d’Oreigle, also called Tour Aiquin and which included a small châtelet, transformed into a guardhouse of the new ensemble and a fortified enclosure, itself built on Gallo fortifications. Roman dating from the 4C which defended the ancient port of the city of Alet and of which vestiges remain in the current entrance bastion. It is possible to spot at low tide, the remains of a stone causeway which led to the Gallo-Roman port, the sea level being 8 meters lower than today.  This tower is the combination of three circular towers connected to each other by small curtains, the whole forming a triangle whose width is about 14 meters and the length about 20 meters. The base of the west tower at about 9 meters in diameter is reinforced by three massive buttresses. About 22 meters high , the tower consists of four floored levels, served by a spiral staircase of 104 steps. Its top has a beautiful belt of machicolations.

st-malo-tour-solidor-aug12

In 1588, the local folks or Malouins seized the tower on behalf of the Duke of Mercœur, leader of the League of Brittany. It was only guarded by five or six men. A captain was installed there in 1590 with three soldiers, a maid and two watch dogs. The soldiers occupied it for a long time in order to watch the estuary in order to block trade between Saint-Malo and Dinan.  In 1636, Louis XIII ordered repairs to be made there. In 1694, the guard of the tower was entrusted to the inhabitants of Saint-Servan. In 1756, the drawbridge at the entrance was replaced by a stone bridge. The history and evolution of military technologies having rendered its initial use obsolete, the tower was transformed into a prison during the French revolution and then as a warehouse under the Empire. Priests, nuns and soldiers were locked up there. Graffiti can still be seen on the interior doors which closed the cells. In 1886, the Ministry of the Navy ceded it to the administration of Historical Monuments. The current appearance of the tower is a little different from the one it had at the beginning of the 20C, in fact only the tower remains as a building. and the guardhouse.

A cross resides at the foot of the Solidor tower. It was erected in 1985 on the rock where Jacques Cartier cast off for Canada in 1534.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the tour Solidor in French: https://www.st-malo.com/tourisme/art-culture/tour-solidor/

Since 1970 it has housed a Cape Horners museum which brings together the collections of the Saint-Malo museum on long-distance navigation and Cape Horners (maps, models, navigation instruments …) A wooden weather vane in the shape of an albatross was donated by the Chilean section of the Amicale internationale des Cap-Horniers in 2003. The collections of objects and on-board instruments belonging to the sailors, the nautical charts from the end of the 19C to the beginning of the 20C will be exhibited at the Maritime History Museum of Saint-Malo (Opening scheduled for early April 2022). You will therefore be able to relive the history of sailors around the world by passing through Cape Horn.

The Amicale Internationale des Cap-Horniers webpage: http://www.cap-horniers.fr/CHLC/Welcome.html

The musée d’histoire maritime of Saint Malo from the city how it will look like: https://www.ville-saint-malo.fr/albums/le-musee-dhistoire-maritime-de-saint-malo/

From the Solidor tower , a passenger and vehicle ferry regularly crossed the Rance towards Dinard, before the Rance dam was put into service in 1967. The Rance tidal power plant draws its energy from the force of the river tide. It is located in the Rance estuary, between the towns of La Richardais and Saint-Malo, With an installed capacity of 240 MW, it remained the largest tidal power plant in the world for 45 years, from its commissioning in 1966 until August 4, 2011. The departmental road 168 passes over the dam and allows vehicles to link Dinard to Saint-Malo. The dam houses the Discovery museum of the Rance tidal power plant. The Saint-Malo museum has a pastel by Henri Arondel representing the Solidor tower, in its collections.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the Rance Dam in English:https://www.saint-malo-tourisme.co.uk/explore/on-and-in-the-water/the-river-rance

More from the electricity company of France, EDF in English: https://www.edf.fr/en/the-edf-group/industrial-provider/renewable-energies/marine-energy/tidal-power

There you go folks another dandy in my beautiful Bretagne and wonderful Saint Malo. Hope you enjoy as I did catching up with this marvel, the Tour Solidor.

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

2 Comments to “The Tour Solidor at Saint Malo!”

  1. One of my favourite places in France.

    Liked by 1 person

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