The walled port city of St. Malo, in the north-west of France, is a popular destination for ferry trippers who prefer to go further afield than Calais or Dunkirk. Its location in Brittany, which borders the English Channel to the north, the Celtic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, makes it an ideal place to get to by ferry.
The great thing about arriving by ferry is that you have the luxury of your own transport right from the start. Although it is possible to hire a car, many hire car companies don’t allow you to take their cars on to the ferries, so do check beforehand.
Booking a ferry is simple and can be done online. However, ferry ticket prices can fluctuate depending on the time of year and availability. Generally though, prices are cheaper when booking in advance, whether directly with ferry company or through one of the comparison websites.
Historical Fort National
Once you have loaded your car up with all of the holiday gear you need, you can recuperate on your crossing to the ancient city of St. Malo. Arriving at the wonderful old port as travellers have done over hundreds of years, it is easy to see why St. Malo is still popular today. As an important coastal town many of the tourist attractions are based around its pirate history and the sea. The popular Fort National was constructed in 1689 on the orders of King Louis XIV to protect the port of St. Malo. Though it may not have the most in facilities, it definitely has wow factor. You will enjoy the guided tours, but the best feature is its location and the far reaching views that you can enjoy from its ramparts across the bay and the old town.
Rich maritime history
The castle of Saint-Malo, east of the town, was built by the Dukes of Brittany and later sold to the king of France. It has since been restored, damaged, restored and further damaged right up until the liberation of St. Malo during WWII. There are plenty of displays to see including maritime artifacts, but the best part of the visit for many is the view from the tower.
St. Malo is also famous for being the location of the world’s first tidal power station. This attracts around 200,000 visitors each year who are interested in viewing the lock in the west end of a dam which allows the passage of 16,000 vessels between the English Channel and the Rance.
Another wonderful place to go in St. Malo is the Catholic cathedral of Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo. The cathedral is a national monument of France and formerly the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Malo. Many visitors point out that is not dissimilar to Notre Dame in Paris. The best time to visit is early in the day when the light streams through the lovely stained glass window and the whole building does tend to become a little dark later in the day.
St. Malo can be a great place to visit if you are on a short trip to France, but it is also somewhere that you can leave behind as you move on to other interesting areas of Brittany, a region that enjoys sunny weather warmed by the Gulf Stream and the occasional windy season, enjoyed by wind surfers from around the world. For more information about St. Malo we suggest you visit the Official St. MaloTourist Office.
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Imagine if every day you woke up and this was the view from your bedroom window. Imagine if you came downstairs and sat eating your breakfast looking out at the boats bobbing on the water. And on sunny days, you walked through the garden gate in the hedge in your swimsuit and dived off the jetty in front of your house. Well, this is the view that my French friend, Isabelle has from her front terrace and this is her life.
On dull days in the city like today, my mind wanders to places like Conleau near Vannes where my friend lives. She told me once that living in this house was like being on holiday every day. I love being beside the sea and the feeling of space and calm that it brings and I have to admit I’m not a little envious.
This is the view back towards the house from the early morning ferry we took when we went Fishing for Crabs on Isle de Houat, when I went to visit last summer. Sigh….. I wish it would be summer again, and that I lived on holiday all year round – don’t you?
This is posted as part of Photo Friday hosted at Delicious Baby - head over and see all the other photo Fridays too.
More stories from Brittany
You’ll have read about how I went fishing for crabs on the island of Houat off the coast of Brittany, with my friend Isabelle and her family. The sun shone, the tide was low for digging shelfish and the oysters and mussels were plentiful on the rocks. But at the end of the day, we only had two small crabs and so we resorted to visiting the fisherman at the harbour to buy some larger crabs that we could actually eat.
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When we got home, Isabelle gave me a demonstration of how to prepare a crab à la Française, the knowledge which every person living in Brittany absorbs from childhood, where oysters and crevettes are just an everyday meal. Here’s all you need to know about cooking the crabs, preparing them for the table and finally eating them. Ah, the delights of eating food that was freshly caught that day, even if not by me!