Saint-Malo offers not just a rich history, but also awe-inspiring scenery and charming neighborhoods coupled with exciting activities. It boasts charming harbor and beaches, a large variety of seafood restaurants, and quaint cafes. Although eighty percent of Saint-Malo was destroyed in the WWII, its old town has rebuilt its attractive architectural heritage from its prosperous history as a port. Take a look and you will discover why this ancient walled port is now one of the top travel destinations in France. Our suggested itinerary is designed to show you the best Saint-Malo has to offer and what are the things you can accomplish in 2 days.
Things to know before traveling to Saint-Malo, France:
Speak French first – People who start babbling in English without even attempting to speak French first are seen very rude in France. Learn to say some basic French greetings and ask politely whether the person speaks some English. Neglecting to greet a person in French, whether you are asking the cost of a particular stuff or just asking directions, will likely get an undesired response. When you enter or exit a store or restaurant, do not forget to say “Bonjour” and “Au revoir”. Remember these handy phrases:
Bonjour. S’il vous plaît… (Hello, please…)
Parlez-vous anglais ? (Do you speak English?)
Merci (Thank you)
Currency exchange – France uses the euro, the same currency now used by most Western European countries with the exception of the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway. Prior to traveling, you can buy some euros (enough for one day or whatever your preference) and then exchange your money in the banks to get the best rates. You can also use the ATMs at all main squares of every town, major airports and train stations.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for France. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Observe the same precautions with your personal safety and health as you would in any other country. For any type of emergencies, dial 112.
Etiquette – For first time visitors, it is important to remember some do’s and dont’s to enjoy a faux pas free journey in France. Always greet with titles unless you’re on familiar terms with them. In France men are addressed as Monsieur (Mister) and women as Madame (Mrs./Ms.) or Mademoiselle (Miss). The French eat slowly. When eating at restaurants, the French servers will never ask “are you finished with that?” because for them, eating is a pleasure, not a task.
Where to stay in Saint-Malo:
Day by day itinerary: Weekend adventure in Saint-Malo, France
Today starts your adventure in Saint-Malo, a fairy-tale like ancient port city in France. Check into your chosen accommodation where you will be staying overnight. Freshen up then set out this morning to see some of the most beautiful attractions in the city. There is no better way to get acquainted in the city than strolling through Saint-Malo La Citadelle (Saint-Malo’s walled city) one of the best old towns in France featuring medieval architecture. Although it was painstakingly rebuilt after its major destruction during World War II, a section of the walls from the 12th century still stands on the west side.
Your next stop is Cathedral St-Vincent, also known as Saint-Malo Cathedral, one of the most important churches in Saint-Malo. Located at Place Jean de Chatillon, its outstanding Gothic and Romanesque architecture makes it worthy of being one of the city’s top-rated attractions.
After your historic city tour, make your way to one of Saint-Malo’s vibrant food markets such as Place de la Poissonnerie (open every Tuesday and Friday), Place Georges Coudray (open every Wednesday), and Marché de Rocabey (open every Saturday). Aside from the markets vast array of fresh produce and mouth-watering food products, these markets have great atmosphere coupled with friendly local sellers. Some of the absolute must-try are Far Breton (flan-style eggs-and-milk custard), grilled oysters, clams, mussels, Andouille de Guémené (pork sausage), and of course, different variety of cheeses.
With time remaining, go for a stroll through Les Remparts de Saint-Malo, the best place to enjoy the magnificent views of the sea and La Citadelle. In the evening, do not miss to try one of the bars at the citadel, eat delicious seafood and drink Breton Beer. Visitors will surely appreciate Saint-Malo’s unpretentious bar scene and vibrant nightlife.
Start your day with breakfast at one of the Al Fresco restaurants or cafes in La Citadelle. After breakfast, delve deeper into the local culture by visiting the Grande Plage du Sillon, the long stretch of golden sand beach running from the eastern side of the citadel. This beach is the ideal place for a morning stroll. Children and adults alike will love taking a dip in the crystal-clear waters.
The second part of the day should be spent at the International House of Poets and Writers of Saint-Malo, a popular venue for literary exhibitions, workshops and conferences. After your museum tour, make your way to Marche aux Huitres located in Cancale, a small fishing village home to an amazing array of seafood restaurants. Here you can eat the freshest oysters and any other fresh seafood at a reasonable price.
Have you been to Saint-Malo or anywhere else in France? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Aerial view of the beautiful city of Privateers – Saint Malo in Brittany, France (Antoine2K / Shutterstock)