History of Saint-Malo
During the Middle Ages Saint-Malo was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance River, controlling not only the estuary but the open sea beyond. 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.
Breakfast beneath the walls of St. Malo
Le Café de Saint-Malo is a popular café and restaurant located in one of the most bustling parts of Saint-Malo’s historic walled city (Intra Muros). It is located just inside the town’s ramparts, close to the Porte St Vincent and La Grand Porte entrances to the city, and is surrounded by competing street cafes, boutique hotels and souvenir shops.
While Le Café de Saint-Malo is famed for its good value seafood dishes (most of the outdoor tables were full of diners tucking into oysters, shrimps and fish when I passed by in the evening), I actually visited the café for a Sunday morning breakfast during my stay in the city in June 2008.
The café offers dozens of outdoor tables, sheltered beneath a red canopy, with great views of the adjacent ramparts, and also has a large interior with a dining room capable of holding many more diners.
Le Café de Saint-Malo was fairly quiet on the Sunday morning that I visited and I had no problem getting an outdoor table. This would not have been possible the previous evening, when all the prime street-side tables were occupied and people were having to wait for vacant tables.
The breakfast menu consisted of various continental breakfast combinations. The simplest and cheapest option was a croissant with a hot beverage for around 4 or 5 Euros, while other options including fresh fruit juice, toast, cheese, bacon and eggs were more expensive.
I splashed out and paid 9.60 Euros for the Grand Formule breakfast – the biggest option on the menu. This included:
- a glass of fresh orange juice (small, but refreshing);
- a choice of hot beverage (I ordered coffee, but was given a hot chocolate, with an accompanying biscuit);
- a croissant;
- a stick of white crusty bread, with butter, red currant and strawberry jams;
- a slice of toast;
- bacon (3 or 4 small pieces of thin, lightly cooked bacon);
- eggs (3 fried eggs, with runny yolks).
As with many of the restaurants and cafes in the touristy heart of Saint-Malo, the food was a little overpriced, but it was good quality and I certainly enjoyed it.
A popular café in the heart of Saint-Malo. The seafood is apparently very good – the breakfasts definitely are! Recommended!
No other fortress that I've seen in the world, matched the imposing sensation of this fortress by the harbour - the size of the wall and towers, the tightness of the houses and streets, all transmitted a sensation of protective strength that I couldn't feel anywhere else.
Solidor Tower in Saint-Servan
The Solidor Tower is a fortified keep built between 1369 and 1382 by order of Jean IV to control the city which didn't want to be submitted to his authority. The museum inside the towers assembles a collection of reduced models of boats, nautical instruments and objects made by the sailors during their travels.
My few hours in Saint Malo
I was 14 years old when I first set eyes upon Saint Malo. I was with my French Immersion class and we had just spent the previous nights in the nearby city of Fougères, staying with local families. When I told my host family, les Renards, that our class was going to Saint Malo next, they said that it was lovely and that we were very lucky, and that Saint Malo is a place where they'd often go on for little vacations. Apparently it's considered the most-visited place in la Bretagne!
Fortunately for us, the weather in Saint Malo was absolutely spectacular! It was a hot, October afternoon when we arrived, and despite being autumn, it felt like summer. People were hanging out at the beach and it truly felt like we were on vacation. Unfortunately we didn't spend much time there, as we were staying at a hotel in nearby Deauville. We did manage to walk around the walls before exploring the city within. I don't recall visiting any museums or attractions other than the Jacques Cartier statue.
Saint Malo is a beautful walled city situated in north-western France overlooking the Atlantic ocean. Much like la Bretagne region in general, Saint Malo has special ties to my home country of Canada because it was the home of Jacques Cartier. And it was here in 1534 that Cartier sailed across the Atlantic ocean in hopes of discovering a passage to India. Instead, he found himself navigating up the St-Lawrence River and claimed the territory (present day Québec City and Montréal) for France. He was the first European in this area to do so. This act initiated the beginning of French culture in North America in a place that would down the road be named Québec.