Department: Ille-et-Villaine (35)
Region: Brittany

The walled town of St Malo is unique in France, and as a result this ancient port is a great tourist attraction.

During the Middle Ages Saint Malo was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance, controlling not only the estuary but the open sea beyond. The promontory fort of Aleth, south of the modern centre in what is now the Saint-Servan district, commanded approaches to the Rance even before the Romans. Modern Saint-Malo traces its origins to a monastic settlement founded by Saint Aaron and Saint Brendan early in the 6th century. Its name is derived from a man said to have been a follower of Brendan, Saint Malo or Maclou.

This seaside resort, famous for its ramparts and pirates in the past, is one of the main tourist
destinations in France. © 
Atout France/Pierre Torset

Everyone should spend time in the Old Town and on the Ramparts, walking round the top of the ramparts in 2 hours or so. Another 2-3 hours will be needed to explore the rest of the town, which is well geared to providing for tourists.

The privateers' walled town surrounded by ramparts is still an active commercial port.  It is the
biggest port on the north coast of Brittany. © 
Atout France/Daniel Gallon - Dangal

ST MALO sights worth visiting

  • The walled city (La Ville Intra-Muros)
  • The château of Saint-Malo, part of which is now the town museum
  • The Solidor Tower in Saint-Servan is a 14th-century building that holds a collection tracing the history of voyages around Cape Horn. 
  • The tomb of the writer Chateaubriand on the Ile du Grand Bé
  • The Petit Bé
  • The Cathedral of St. Vincent
  • The Privateer's House ("La Demeure de Corsaire"), a ship-owner's town house built in 1725, shows objects from the history of privateering, weaponry and ship models
  • The Great Aquarium Saint-Malo, one of the major aquaria in France
  • The labyrinthe du Corsaire, (an attraction park in Saint Malo)
  • The Pointe de la Varde, Natural Park

© Atout France/Jean François Tripelon-Jarry

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Esplanade St-Vincent, St Malo
Tel: 0825 135 200

getting there

Saint-Malo is a terminal for ferry services to Poole, Portsmouth and Weymouth in England via the Channel Islands. It also has a railway station, Gare de Saint-Malo, offering direct TGV service to Rennes, Paris and several regional destinations.