In December, I visited Saint-Malo with my aunt and uncle. This sea-side fortress (the city is quite literally built inside a fortress) is a quiet reprieve from France’s busier cities. Saint-Malo is a small city with beautiful architecture that has been rebuilt again and again throughout its history. Within driving distance from world treasure, Mont-Saint Michel and oyster-lovers’ paradise, Cancale, Saint-Malo is the perfect location for a stay in France.
Ramparts of Saint-Malo
Saint-Malo is a city built within a fortress. Climb the walls and walk the ramparts at day or night to see beautiful views of the ocean or the night-time sky.
Place du Pilori (Pillory Square)
Check out the heart of town. As with many other European cities, Saint-Malo has a sordid history of public humiliation and execution. The Place du Pilori which was rebuilt after World War II, was also known as “Place du Martroy” a play on words on the Latin “martyretum,” which means a place where punishments took place. On the other hand, this part of town was also called the “faire le pilo”, which was a rendezvous point where one was meant to find a soul-mate. Public humiliation, love and serendipity… Saint-Malo has it all.
Place de la Poissonnerie (Poissonnerie Square)
See more of the history of the town by visiting Fishmarket Square. An old covered fish-market in the center of the square was designed by architect Henry Auffret and sculptor Francis Pellerin, who was coincidentally the Grand Prix champion of Rome. (Talk about an overachiever). The fish market entrance is made to look like a spiny dogfish and was restored in 2006. Like the Place du Pilori, the Place de la Poissonnerie had to be rebuilt after World War II.
Where to Eat
Breizh Cafe is a popular restaurant in France that specializes in galettes. Galettes are basically savory crepes made out of buckwheat, and they are DELICIOUS. Of course, you can also indulge in a sweet crepe for dessert. From the bar, you can see right into kitchen, and watch the chefs hard at work making these beautiful creations. Breizh Cafe has many restaurants in France and even one location in Japan! Our server told us to be on the look out for a Breizh Cafe opening in New York City within the next couple of years. I ordered the andouille sausage galette which is filled with cheese, caramelized onions, and a sunny-side up egg.
Ostaleri is another fantastic dinner option with the friendliest owners. We shared some octopus and tarte de tartin (French apple pie).
Cavoua Coffee Spot
We went to breakfast at Cavoua twice during our stay in San Malo. This cafe has the cutest vibes, the freshest juice, rich Ethiopian coffee, and yummy breakfast options. The staff members are so kind, especially Oreo, the French bulldog.
La Maison Du Beurre
My Aunt Heather was especially excited to visit the shop of the “Butter Man” of Saint Malo. Stop in to get some butter for your baguette or the best caramels you’ve ever tasted.
Kouign Saint Malo
In the mood for some more sweet buttery goodness? Try Kouign! This buttery cake can be bought at Kouign Amann de Saint-Malo. We got ours to-go, so we could eat it with tea at home. The worker suggested we heat it up for a bit, as the kougin is best served hot.
St. James Place
Embrace your inner frenchie and get your striped sailor shirt here!
Marches de Saint Malo- Market
I can never resist a market. We stumbled upon this indoor market-place by accident and just had to go inside. The Marches de Saint Malo- Market has produce, butter, flowers, and friendly vendors. Practice ordering in French with them!
Cave De L’abbaye Saint-Jean
This cozy Christmasy wine and spirts store has a wide variety of French products and friendly staff with suggestions.
Maybe my favorite part of this trip was our visit to Cancale. About a thirty minute drive from Saint-Malo, Cancale, is the cutest little fishing town. I was blown away by their variety of oysters for such low prices. You can try oysters from multiple vendors and discard your oyster shells right on the beach! One platter of a dozen oysters cost us 6 euros!! The more expensive, Cancale-native, Belon oysters only cost 12 euros for a dozen.
Mont Saint-Michel is truly one of the most breath-taking places I have ever visited. This cathedral on the water is only accessible during low-tide. Mont Saint-Michel is about 50 minutes away from Saint-Malo by car. The impressive site was built in the 8th century after St. Aubert (then bishop of Avranches) had a vision of the Archangel St. Michael. On-site is an abbey, still inhabited by nuns today. Mont Saint-Michel has a been a pilgrimage site since its creation and continues to attract visitors from all over the world. You can either park in the parking-lot and take a trolley to the entrance or walk the long road up to the gates. Be careful! The sandy beaches of Mont Saint-Michel can be enticing, but take a misstep, and you’ll be swallowed up by quicksand!
Hopefully, I have convinced you to visit Saint-Malo. It is definitely worth the trip! I am very grateful to my Aunt Heather and Uncle Chris for taking me with them.
Un abrazo fuerte,