The best things to do in Saint-Malo make this coastal town one of the most popular holiday destinations in Brittany. They help to create its historical importance and its charismatic aura, both of which gave it the nickname: The City of Corsairs. Birthplace of legendary sailors and privateers such as Jacques Cartier – the man who discovered Canada – and Robert Surcouf, Saint-Malo is a city boasting a strong and independent character.

    Walk around the ramparts that surround the Old Town, visit Fort National, snack on crêpes and galettes, or discover the Great Aquarium. Saint-Malo offers what seems to be an endless choice of things to see and do in its unique historical setting and atmosphere.

    What are the best things to do in Saint-Malo?

    1

    Chateaubriand Square

    Take in the atmosphere of Old Saint-Malo in this lively square

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Chateaubriand Square is a great place to start your stay in Saint-Malo. This paved square, right next to the entrance of the Old Town through Saint-Thomas Gate, teems with the welcoming outdoor terraces of bars, restaurants and hotels including Hôtel de l’Univers, Café des Voyageurs and Brasserie Le Chateaubriand. A few stalls sell souvenirs and paintings on the other side of the square, just in front of the Saint-Malo Castle, which hosts the History Museum of the city and the country of Malo.

    Location: Place Chateaubriand, 35400 Saint-Malo, France

    Map

    photo by Pline (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Saint-Malo Old Town

    Take a walk in a reconstructed historical district

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Dated back the 6th century, Saint-Malo Old Town was almost entirely rebuilt after WWII. Today, its cobblestoned narrow streets and its splendid houses made of grey granite give you a very pleasant journey back in time. From the 13th-century Saint-Vincent Cathedral to the 18th-century corsair mansions, the Old Town is filled with historical sites to visit, but also lined with arts and crafts boutiques and quaint bars and restaurants. Pick up a guide map at the Tourist Office on Esplanade Saint-Vincent and go explore Saint-Malo Intra Muros (within the walls).

    Location: 35400 Saint-Malo, France

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    3

    Saint-Malo Ramparts

    See the Old Town, beaches and nearby islands from a different angle

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    A walk on the Saint-Malo Ramparts gives you the opportunity to see Saint-Malo and its surroundings from a different angle. Just south to the castle, Saint-Vincent Gate is the place to start a tour of the Ramparts. Along the 2 km walkway that overlooks the city, you’ll see the houses and statues of famous Saint-Malo shipowners and privateers, 3 of the beaches of Saint-Malo (the Môle, Bon-Secours and l'Éventail), Petit and Grand Bé islands, and many more interesting sights.

    Location: 35400 Saint-Malo, France

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    4

    Bon-Secours Beach

    Swim, dive and sail at the foot of Saint-Malo Ramparts

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Just west of the Old Town and reachable through Saint-Pierre Gate, Bon-Secours Beach offers a great range of fun activities. The simplest of these is simply enjoying the warm summer sun. The beach has a seawater swimming pool which allows you to bath even at low tide. There’s also a 3- and 5-metre diving board. A friendly sailing club rents out sea kayaks, Hobie Cats and sailing dinghies. Bon-Secours is the beach from which you can reach Petit and Grand Bé islands on foot, at low tide.

    Location: 4 Rue de la Crosse, 35400 Saint-Malo, France

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    photo by Dennis Jarvis (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    5

    The Great Aquarium - Saint-Malo

    Take a ride in a yellow submarine

    • Families
    • Photo

    A visit of the Great Aquarium in Saint-Malo is highly recommended. From the abyss to the mangrove, 9 rooms introduce you to over 600 sea species in a fun and informative way. From the large circular tank that hosts sharks and turtles to the ‘Nautibus’ – a yellow submarine that takes you for an exciting underwater tour – The Great Aquarium is aptly named. A restaurant/crêperie as well as a souvenirs shop are at hand in the aquarium’s compound which covers no less than 4,000 sq m.

    Location: On the southern outskirts of Saint-Malo City

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)2 99 21 19 00

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    6

    Paramé

    Discover the pleasant seaside resort of Saint-Malo

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Paramé is the seaside resort of Saint-Malo. Located about 3 km northeast of the Old Town, it’s famous for its long sandy beaches (Plage du Sillon and de la Hoguette), for its sea spa (Les Thermes Marins de Saint-Malo), and for the 19th-century hotel and villas. You’ll see these decorative buildings on the beachfront, as well as on Boulevard Hébert and boulevard Chateaubriand, helping to make Paramé a pleasant place for a late-afternoon stroll. You’ll also find a few seaside restaurants, such as Les Chaumette and Les Terrasses des Thermes, for a restoring pause.

    Location: Paramé, 35400 Saint-Malo, France

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    photo by TCY (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Fort National

    Explore a 17th-century stronghold

    • History
    • Photo

    Built at the end of the 17th century by Vauban, one of the most celebrated French military engineers, Fort National is a stronghold that sits on the tiny Rock Islet, 300 metres north off Saint-Malo Old Town. Only opened for visitors from June to September, Fort National is worth the trip for the beautiful views it offers of the coast and of Saint-Malo Old Town. Ask for the guide booklet (available in English) at the entrance as it relates the whole history of the fort.

    Location: 60 Chaussée du Sillon, 35400 Saint-Malo, France

    Open: Depend on the tides, but usually from 10 am to 5 pm

    Map

    photo by Marco Usan (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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