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Once a fortified island, the stunning granite-walled town of St Malo attracts visitors with its ancient atmosphere, superb scenery and beautiful beaches, making it Brittany’s most popular tourist destination.
Dominated by the old citadelle, the town once guarded not only the mouth of the Rance, but the coastal area beyond. Even today, the walls and towers intimidate visitors, creating an intriguing medieval atmosphere. The ancient fort of Alet existed well before the time of the Romans, and the town itself dates back to a 6th century monastery. Today the fort is equally imposing, awing tourists with its towering heights and spectacular views of the town and surrounding coastline.
Strolling around the walls and ramparts of the town is invigorating, with fresh sea breezes and ocean views. Within, explore the maze of old streets, lanes and alleys and discover the charming traditional buildings and squares. Indeed, the entire town is a museum in itself, with surprises waiting around every corner.
Seemingly at odds with the tranquil, sombre atmosphere created by the fortifications, the streets in the center of town come alive, especially at night. Excellent restaurants, quaint cafes and exciting bars all contribute to a lively nightlife. Families can enjoy the day at the nearby safe, quiet beaches and take part in swimming and a variety of marine sports.
The surrounding countryside offers attractive day trips. 20 km along the Rance River is the beautiful medieval town of Dinan, while along the spectacular coast to the west lie the famous island of Île de Bréhat and the colourful pink granite coastline of the Côte de Granit Rose.
Connections to St Malo can be made from Nantes International Airport or Charles de Gaulle International Airport, which serve flights from most world cities. Transportation options to the town are varied and regular.
Located in northwestern France, gazing out over the Channel Islands and the southern coast of England, St Malo is one of France’s most popular tourist towns and is thus very easy to get to, whether by car, bus, train or aeroplane.
St Malo's airport is located just 10 kms away at Dinard, and flights arrive here from many French towns. Alternatively, Paris’ Orly Airport is 16kms south of Paris. Terminal Sud is mainly for international flights and Terminal Ouest is for domestic flights, including those from Corsica. Additionally, Charles de Gaulle Airport is 27kms northeast of central Paris, about a 45-minute drive under normal traffic conditions.
If you're driving from Paris, take the A13 west to Caen, continuing southwest along the N175 to the town of Miniac Morvan. From here, travel north on the N137 directly to St Malo. Driving time from Paris is five to six hours.
There are also about nine regular high-speed TGV Atlantique trains leaving daily from Paris' Gare Montparnasse to Rennes, from where there are frequent connections to St Malo. Trip time is three hours, and the journey costs €50.60 one way from Paris.
If you are planning to visit St Malo from the UK, however, it is worthwhile taking a Brittany ferry from Portsmouth on the southern coast of England. There are daily crossings which take 8 hours, 45 minutes and also a night boat that arrives at 08:00 the next day. However, since tidal movements around St Malo are unpredictable, arrival and departure times may vary.