Explore the history and wonders of the French islet of St. Malo.

You can embrace the view of the Emerald Coast as you walk closer to the granite islet of St. Malo. Connected to the mainland by an ancient path, St. Malo extends out on the English Channel where it is the heart of connection among England, Ireland, and the Channel Islands.

A Parlay Amongst Corsairs

This port destination received its unique name after St. Maclou, a Welsh monk who immigrated to Brittany and became the first bishop of Aleth, now modern Saint-Servan. Located in northwestern France in the Brittany region, St. Malo became France’s leading port for both merchant ships and government-sanctioned privateers during the 17th and 18th centuries. Nonetheless, the city’s early prosperity came from the work of the swashbuckling corsairs – pirates who sailed the vast seas to their sanctuary, St. Malo.

Just northeast of the port city is the Rotheneuf District along the Emerald Coast. In the 19th century, local priest Abbe Foure spent 25 years carving and sculpting the rocks. Legend has it, the rocks represent a family of fishermen from the 16th and 17th centuries. This family adapted to pirate ways to establish their monopoly over the coast. Like any other pirate during that time, they were attracted to the treasures and fortunes that the port had to offer.

An Islet Revived

The skyline remained unscathed in style as the great heritage restoration project aimed to rebuild the city as close to the original as possible. You can notice the Gothic and Romanesque architecture throughout the streets of the Intra-Muros. A classic example of the combination of the Roman and Gothic style in St. Malo would have to be the Cathedral of St. Vincent. Its towers of weathered stone and illuminous glass stained windows overlook the town. As the waves crash against the surrounding walls of the islet, a significant part of Brittany’s history can be uncovered with a walk along the city’s beautiful ramparts.

Oui, St. Malo

Venturing off to the old walled town, the Intra-Muros, one can explore all the main highlights of St. Malo. The museum, la Maison du Quebec, invites visitors to learn the fascinating history of one of St. Malo’s most famous natives, Jacques Cartier. This French explorer is not a stranger to the island of St. Malo, and he is worldly-known for his unintentional discovery of Canada. Ordered from King Francis I, he was to search for a new route to Asia in 1534 and found more than what he originally planned during his exploration along his route on the St. Lawrence River. You may want to visit the Musée de Jacques Cartier, located near the Rotheneuf District, to learn more about the life of the French explorer and the history of French Canada.

Two kilometers south of St. Malo, the picturesque fishing port of St. Servan awaits with its Grand Aquarium – home to 600 species of fish around the globe and one of the largest aquariums in France. Here, the beaches beckon with the clearest waters you’ll ever see in the north of France, such as at its longest beach, the Grand Plage. Iconic monuments and attractions can be enjoyed with a walk along the ramparts or a journey to the Fort National during low tide.

You can admire the beauty of St. Malo and the Emerald Coast during your Impressions of the Seine and Paris river cruise and land journey!

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