Breton Coastal Medieval Fortified City of Saint Malo
The old town
of Saint Malo is a great example of a fortified citadel. Walking around the top of city wall when we first arrived gave us an overview (or aerial view) of the walled city. In the 17th century, attacks from corsairs saw the building of 3 forts (in addition to the city walls) on the islands just off the coast. Fort Vauban still remains on Le Petit Bé which can be reached by foot at low tide as it is just off the city wall.
Mid-July’s beautiful weather soon drew us to one of the many cafés within the walls. Note- although St. Malo extends beyond the city walls today, my focus will be on our findings within the walls, the Intra-Mur, as that is where Saint Malo’s story begins.
Eight doors allow entrance to the narrow streets which offered alternating atmospheres of bustling tourism and peaceful squares.
Just as the sailors from times past used the steeple of Saint Vincent Cathedral as their guidepost, you also can easily navigate the maze of streets via the steeple.
In Saint Vincent Cathedral you will find the tomb of Jacques Cartier who discovered Canada. Appointed by François I to identify a route to China via Newfoundland, Jacques Cartier discovered the Saint Lawrence estuary and the Bay of Gaspé. Thus, Canada was discovered by a Malouin. More pictures of the inside of the Cathedral can be found here.
St. Malo is a vibrant port city with beautiful beaches and water. From the top of the wall you can see right through the teal colored water to the sand beneath. For amateurs and novices there are schools that provide sailing lessons for dinghies, catamarans and windsurfing. You can also take kayak excursions to the islands of Petit and Grand Bé. These excursions are family friendly!
Saint Malo had a great market lining the city walls on the Saturday that we visited. I later learned that they have a market, each at a different location every day of the week.
Wanting to take a side detour to the U.K. while you are here? There are four ferry companies that provide transportation to more than one million people between the France and the U.K. each year.
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