"Saint-Malo, built on the sea and enclosed by ramparts, seems, when one arrives, a crown of stones placed on the waves, of which the machicolations are the jewels. "In 1847, Gustave Flaubert fell under the spell of the corsair city. Today, the citadel and the atmosphere that reigns there still fascinate as much as ever. But the Emerald Coast is more than just its flagship city. The Pointe du Grouin, the oyster port of Cancale, Dinard and its sumptuous villas, the mad charm of the streets of Old Dinan and the walks along the banks of the Rance are all ideas for a long dream weekend or a good week's holiday

The historic rock

The first inhabitants of the corsair city would never have imagined such a thing image : Saint-Malo, the city that for decades forged its reputation on men of war who took to the sea to board enemy ships, today welcomes visitors to the very heart of its impregnable ramparts, all captivated by the beauty of the place. The return of bâton ? Because by dint of plundering the enemies of the King of France and developing trade from the port, the privateers of Malouin enriched their city to the point of making it an elegant holiday resort. The city has character, both in its architecture and in the soul of its habitants : isn't Saint-Malo the birthplace of the famous Jacques Cartier, Duguay-Trouin and the dreaded Surcouf ?

As you will have understood, Saint-Malo and the Emerald Coast are not a simple seaside stopover. The soul of Saint-Malo has remained intact despite the destruction of the city during the Second World War. Everything has been rebuilt identically, proof that the inhabitants did not want to draw a line under their past, aware of the richness of their heritage

An ideal way to get to know Saint-Malo, the walk along the ramparts that surround the city is incontournable : allow an hour and a half to walk around the rock and distinguish the architecture of the main buildings in Saint-Malo. The Small Keep of the intramural castle and the Solidor tower in Saint-Servan, which date from the Middle Ages, are the oldest witnesses to the birth of the fortress. The Great Keep, for its part, precedes the bastioned fortification built by Vauban in the 17th century. On the bay side, you can see Dinard, the islets fortified by Garangeau to make the entrances to the port, Cape Fréhel impregnable. On the port side, the view is magnificent on the incessant ballet of merchant ships and ferries leaving for England, the Channel Islands or Ireland.

On leaving the National Fort, the height of the tree trunks, which are pitted vertically along the Sillon beach, is impressive. Replaced every 50 years, they serve as breakwaters to prevent the sea from damaging the dike. A picnic on the beach will be an opportunity to admire the invigorating spectacle of the ebb tide. The tides in the Bay of Saint-Malo are among the highest in the world at monde ! Along the Sillon, there is no shortage of middle-class villas, an ideal pretext for a digestive stroll. Further on are the Thermes Marins. Opened in 1839, this establishment offers a multitude of formulas between thalassotherapy and body care

A story that is omnipresent

Facing the citadel, the National Fort was built by Vauban and Garangeau in 1689 with granite from the island of Chausey (like the ramparts of Saint-Malo). All around, one can see the islets sheltering, for some, other forts. And the venerable tomb of Chateaubriand

Another witness of a bygone era is the Saint-Malo History Museum, installed in the castle's large keep, which will inevitably (re)captivate visitors very soon. For it is above all a unique opportunity to admire the sea and the pools from the top of the keep and the watchtowers. Fans of war epics will also visit the Maison de Corsaire, a large building dating from the 18th century and listed as a historical monument.

Sculpted rocks, Pointe du Grouin and Cancale

Then we reach the oyster port of Cancale. On the road, the beaches of Le Verger and La Guimorais are ideal for walking and fishing. Further on, the Pointe du Grouin, which juts out into the sea, is a magnificent sight early in the morning or in the evening, when the luminosity drops and the public is less numerous. One can stay for hours contemplating the sea and the bird reserve on the adjacent rocky island

In Cancale, "remarkable site of taste", the visit begins with the port of La Houle to buy oysters. A good number of bars and restaurants offer formulas, to take away of course. This is the time to taste the pied-de-cheval, a very large oyster, a speciality of Cancale. To be seen on quai : the big bell that was used to warn sailors of an accident at sea.

After the port of La Houle, the marine farm is set up in the middle of several oyster farms. It offers to learn more about oyster farming. Depending on the weather, as you get closer to the shore, you can see the almost unreal silhouette of Mont-Saint-Michel ...

Belle Epoque atmosphere in Dinard and medieval atmosphere in Dinan

From Saint-Malo, you can reach Dinard via the Rance dam or by "sea bus" (10 min). Dinard, the distinguished one, was the first seaside resort in France. The Hôtel de Dinard (today Grand Hôtel) dates back to 1859. The same year opened the sea bathing establishment, followed by a casino. British families, peacefully returned this time, created the first clubs (tennis, golf...). Magnificent buildings were erected on the points of the Falklands and Le Moulinet. From the end of the 19th century to the inter-war period, Dinard experienced a very fashionable period, the " Belle Epoque ", which saw the appearance of majestic residences along the coast.

Finally, it would be regrettable to miss Dinan. This stage of art and history alone deserves the detour. Located at 20 minutes from Saint-Malo, it is quite simply one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Brittany. Surrounded by ramparts overlooking the Rance at 75 mètres high, this former city of the Dukes is home to many half-timbered houses. In addition to the museums, it is above all the old town that you have to walk around a little at random. Extend your stay by taking the megalithic route to discover the Dinan country from a new angle.

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When did this happen? A long weekend or a short week as soon as the sunny days arrived

Go there. By train, by plane (via Rennes airport) or by car (via the A11 and the RN 137 from Paris).

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