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Saint Malo

Posted on July 29, 2014 by Susie Hollands

Text: Susie Hollands
Images: Cristian Bortes

Swashbuckling Saint Malo is a cute place to go for a quick seaside break!

Inside the walled medieval citadel (intra muros) is the place to stay for maximum pirate ambience (Corsaire is the city’s name in French as it was once the seat of wayfaring vagabonds). The winding lanes and alleys recall the days when a curfew still protected the town – the only beasts to roam were the Chiens du Guet who patrolled the inner part of the city, protecting it from looters. Our Hotel Les Chiens du Guet 4, Place du Guet was slightly eccentric and not entirely clean but it must be the most perfectly situated in the town. Two steps away is their simple but decent restaurant (try the bourride – a fish soup and local speciality – a bit like a southern Bouillabaisse but heartier).

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If you fancy getting wet, or at least seeing the water, the Porte St Pierre, is a fantastic and (before July and August at least) very relaxed beach.  When the tide is out you can use the impressive swimming pool or walk across the way to the Tomb of Chateaubriand, located on a little island.

We found the people in St Malo to be quirky but fun loving, life on the coast had toughened them up and they do not suffer fools gladly.  The reception in La Java, the town’s oldest (c.1820) and most original café near Porte St Vincent was pretty frosty but we enjoyed ourselves on the actual swings, which doubled as bar stools, and poked around the space packed with ancient marionettes, dolls from all over the world and Guignols (French Punch and Judy-esque character).  Probably a nightmare to dust and it didn’t look like anyone had tried for a few years.

Pick up local specialties such as artisanal cider (steer clear of industrial brands such as Val de Rance), cider bouches (little ceramic cups), Calvados (the famous apple based cognac), and salted caramel at boutique La Cale Aux Trésors.

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For gourmands looking to spoil themselves, you will want to check out Olivier Roellinger’s Michelin starred restaurant Le Coquillage in nearby Cancale (you’ll need to drive or take a taxi as it’s outside of the main town – try Taxi Corsaire +33 6 37 37 06 13). You can even buy his favourite spices from his epicerie in Saint Malo and recreate the dishes at home!

TO EAT/DRINK

Brasserie Les Chiens de Guet
4 Place de Guet
Ph. 02 99 40 87 29

La Java
3 rue Saint-Barbe
Ph. 02 99 56 41 90

Le Coquillage
Le Buot, Saint Méloir des Ondes
Ph. 02 99 89 64 76

TO BUY

La Cale aux Trésors
2 Passage de la Grand Hermine
Ph. 02 99 40 89 78

Épices Roellinger
12 rue Saint Vincent
Ph. 06 18 80 44 10

TO DO

Tomb of Chateaubriand
Île du Grand Bé

The resting place of famous French author Chateaubriand – you can walk to the little island when the tide is out.

TO STAY

Hotel Les Chiens de Guet
4 Place de Guet
Ph. 02 99 40 87 29