La Tour Bidouane, with its imposing 23 meters height and 15 meters width, is one of the main bastions of the city´s defensive system. Built in the XV century and later reformed in the XVII, this spot offers the most amazing views over the corsair coast.
Unlike the freelance pirates, the corsairs were financed by the Crown. During the XVII and XVIII centuries, the city was a relevant corsair port. The best-known seaman among all of them was Robert Surcouff, (1776-1827). He was born in Saint-Malo and buried in the historic Rocabey cemetery, located outside the walls. He was a privateer at the service of Napoleon I. The capture of 47 British ships despite the failure of the French Navy against the English Navy, made him a national hero. He was nicknamed the King of Corsairs for his gallantry and gentlemanliness. His ancient home is today a museum in his honor, located at 2, Rue Saint-Philippe.
From the top of its imposing tower, we have the best views of the city and also of Grand Bé and Petit Bé islands. These historical islands offer very interesting spots. The tomb of Chateaubriand is situated in Grand Bé island. François René Chateaubriand was a French politician and writer considered the founder of French literary romanticism. In Petit Bé, there is a XVII century fort.
From the top of the Tower, you can also sight the Fort National. This fort, together with that of the island, was designed by the architect Vauban under Louis XIV´s reign. Both are part of the city´s protection belt built to protect from English and Dutch ships.
Passage de la Poudrière 35400 Saint-Malo
SOUPE DE POISON OR EAU DE POISSON!
In Saint-Malo, gastronomy is mainly based on fish and shellfish such as prawns, lobster, spider crab, crabs, prawns, and oysters. One of the main dishes, the cheapest and the tastiest is the fish soup. This soup was the usual poor man´s dish in which the fishermen added the rest of the fish that they could not sell. They garnished with bread and garlic.
In French this is called “Soupe de poisson", but please pay attention to the poisson pronunciation. The double "s" must be prolonged because if you make the "S" short with the “Z” sound, they will poison you. Poison, with a single "S" is poison! Also, when you enter a perfumery, do not ask for " Eau de Poisson " instead of " Eau de Poison ". Joke aside, let´s see what this delicacy is made of and how it is prepared so that you can cook it at home: Peel and cut an onion and sauté it in olive oil. Mix so that it does not stick. Add some leek, celery, garlic, and fennel, finally add some chopped fish and intermix properly all ingredients.
Then add some concentrated tomato sauce and season it with a bay leaf, parsley, and thyme, you can also add some of your favorite spices. Fill the pot with water, add some salt, pepper, and a red pepper. Cook uncovered from 1h30 to 2h.
After the soup cooking time, strain it through a sieve to obtain a clear broth. Add some fish chunks and Provençal sauce. Pass through the blender to get a fine soup and finally add some saffron. Next, cut a few bread slices, rub them with garlic and toast them in the oven. Serve very hot. We introduce the toasted bread in the soup and on top the cheese that will melt with the heat.
SALTED BUTTER CANDY!
For those with a sweet tooth, the salted butter sweet "caramel de beurre salé" is certainly the souvenir to buy in Saint-Malo. Tender, hard, soft, thick, to spread or as a sauce, it is a delicatessen in France and well known around the world.
What is the history of this famous Breton delicacy?
Salted butter is a Breton tradition that dates back many centuries when King Felipe VI imposed the salt tax in the XIV century. The salt, kept in granaries and overtaxed, was no longer profitable for the locals. But such a measure did not affect the Bretons, since Brittany, at that time, did not belong to the French Kingdom so the Bretons continued to use salt at a good price.
Salted butter candies are originally from Quiberon, in the south of Brittany. They have become a veritable appeal in the region. Their success is due to Henri Le Roux.
The chocolatier Mr. Henri Le Roux settled in Quiberon in 1977. Specialist in ice cream and chocolate, he decided to take an interest in the local specialty, the salted butter. For 3 months he worked hard to create a recipe based on sugar and semi-salted butter. This resulted in a delicious mixture to which he incorporates walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. His candies were immediately successful. In 1980, his genuine salted butter caramel was awarded the best French caramel prize at the International Confectionery Show.
Twenty years later, Henri Le Roux created the world’s longest candy: 567.85 meters. The giant candy was cut into 24 000 pieces and sold in favor of social works.
The fame of this Breton chocolatier conquered all France and the whole world. Nowadays, La Maison Henri Le Roux in Quiberon produces 13 tons of candies. The different varieties, salted, tender, or hard, are present in Breton kitchens due to their different applications in numerous recipes. This is ideal as a complement to another local delicacy such as waffles and crepes.
It is possible to buy them in the many specialized stores in the center such as the "Biscuiterie" or "Patisserie" and even in the supermarkets. They could be presented in glass pots, beautiful metal boxes, or in wrapped-tied bags perfect for gifts.
A GREAT VIEW!
From the "Petit Bé" islet you feel overtaken by a sense of privilege and freedom. You will have a magnificent view of the city walls with the castle in the background and a gorgeous view of "du Sillon" beach, without doubt one of the most beautiful beaches in France.
Sillon was the name of the dune-line that linked Saint-Malo to the mainland during the corsairs’ times. At low tide, it was an isthmus and at high tide, it was an island. Along the Sillon beach, there were windmills. In 1509, a road was created and in 1853, the construction of a dike began to protect the sea-lands.
Today, it is a very colorful picture to contemplate with all those villas dating from the end of the XIX century, the time of its spas appearing.
The Parisian banker Édouard Hébert inherited some land by the sea as payment for a debt. In love with the place, he undertakes an urban operation to create a spa so "en vogue" at the time.
Paramé Casino and a luxury hotel created in 1900 stand out. Today, it is the five-star Grand Hotel des Thermes with a thalassotherapy center.
On Petit Bé islet stands out the "Fort National", a defensive bastion from the XVII century.
Before the construction of that fort, there was a lighthouse for guiding the ships at night through the rocky bay of the city. It was also the execution place: criminals were hanged over and witches and heretics burned.
To defend the city from the English attack, King Louis XIV commissioned a defensive system designed by the royal engineer and Marshal of France, Vauban. The construction of the Fort began in 1689 and finished in 1693 under the direction of Simeon Garangeau. During that year, the English army attacked Saint-Malo but the walls were effective. The Royal Fort became a Republican Fort after the French Revolution. In 1870, it was definitively known as the National Fort.
Legend tells that the famous corsair Piere Surcouf faced 12 adversaries in the court of the castle. He stroked down eleven of them and he cut one hand to the twelfth after he declared, “Sir, I forgive your life because I need a witness”.
CASTLE IN SIGHT!
The Castle of Saint-Malo is one of the 83 historical buildings in the city. Saint-Malo owns 15% of historical spots in the Department of Ile-et-Vilaine. Saint-Malo is ranked 31st on the list of French municipalities with the largest number of historical buildings.
The construction of the castle was started by the Dukes of Brittany in the XIV century to ensure their hold over the city. The castle has five towers built in different periods.
The Duke John V of Brittany begins the construction of the future castle by building the Grand Donjon tower on the isthmus, which at that time was the only crossing point between the walled city and the mainland. This building has the particularity of being detached from the ramparts. The Grand Donjon is a curious construction of a horseshoe-shaped plan with its large gable facing the city. At every end, there is a watchtower linking to the walk. Later, Duke Francisco II of Brittany built La General tower, lower in height than the Grand Donjon, but wider. His daughter Anne, future Queen of France, ordered, against the wish of the inhabitants, the construction of Quic-en-Groigne Tower, which in the Breton language means "so it will be, it is my pleasure".
Anne, the last Duchess of Brittany, got her third marriage with the King of France, Charles VII. Her first marriage was with the Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg, at the moment Juana la Loca´s father-in-law, and consequently grandfather of the future Emperor Carlos I of Spain. Her second marriage was to Charles VIII, King of France.
Two more towers, "Tour des Dames " (Tower of the Ladies) and "Tour des Moulins" (Mill Tower), were added in subsequent years.
In the XVIII century, the “Galére" bastion, shaped like a ship´s prow, completed the defenses. Adaptions for artillery pieces were incorporated into the towers from 1690 onwards. From the XIX century, the castle became a barrack until its acquisition by the municipality. Six years later, it was transformed into a museum.
The damages provoked during the Second World War was restored in August 1944. Today, it is the seat of the local government ("Hotel de Ville"). The Towers of the Ladies and the Homage house the Museum of History.
9, Place Chateaubriand 35400 Saint-Malo
BEWARE OF TIDES!
In front of the intramural "plage du Bonsecours" beach, there is a rocky islet known as the "Gran Bé" which is accessed through an easy-access, 500-meter cemented walkway.
From its position, it offers a panoramic view of the walled city with the prominent cathedral tower.
And now comes the adventure, the challenge ... When the tide rises, the islet is surrounded by the sea and becomes an island. To return, either, you wait 6 hours for the low tide or you return with the water reaching up to your shoulders. But do not worry, since 2011, there is a person in charge of warning when the tide is about to rise. He uses a horn and is known as the "bell" of Bé.
The islet is mainly known because it hosts the tomb of François-René Chateaubriand, a famous writer born in Saint-Malo in 1768. Although he died in Paris, before his death, he had expressed his desire to be buried on this piece of land to continue "his conversation with the sea."
His grave, sober, without any name as was his wish "neither inscription, nor name, nor date, the cross will say that the man who rests under it was a Christian, that will suffice in my memory", is topped by a large pink granite cross. However, the Municipality, to honor his memory has dedicated him a plaque where we can read: “A great French writer wanted to rest here to hear nothing but the wind and the sea. Passerby, respect his last wish! "
During the Second World War, the German army turned the islet into one of the bastions of the "Saint-Malo fortress" by installing an anti-air battery.
During the summer of 1944, the Allied forces reconquered Saint-Malo city. The Grand Bé was one of the three fortresses that remained under Germans hands. A smoke grenades incursion by the United States Marines took the islet. A week later, the second German stronghold fell after intense bombardment by North American aviation. The third and last German stronghold, deadly from its position off the coast, surrendered a month later.
The bishopric of Saint-Malo arose in the XII century. Aleth Bishopric (located on the other side of the passenger port) decided to move, after papal authorization, to Saint-Malo, a city that was constantly growing and especially offered a safer emplacement. Its small Romanesque church became the new Saint-Vincent Cathedral.
In the central nave of the Cathedral, there is a plaque that marks the place where Jacques Cartier knelt before setting out on his overseas expedition. This sealer was the first of French nationality to explore the northern regions of the American continent. It was the time of the great navigations, of the discoverers. Whereas Portugal dominated the routes to the Indies bordering Africa, Spain decided to cross the Atlantic Ocean. After the discovery of America by the Spanish, many countries took the impulse of this finding, so France undertook its expedition… in this case to the north.
Jacques Cartier, born in Saint-Malo, left on April 24th, 1534, with two ships and 61 men. Nearly three months later, he reached the coast. He remained there for ten days, enough time to establish links with the Iroquois Indians with whom he fraternizes. Exactly three months later, Jacques Cartier erected a 10 meters high cross to mark the possession of those lands by the Crown of France. He named it Canada, which in the Iroquois language means hut or settlement. This is how France discovered these new lands avoiding the Portuguese and Spanish routes.
On his second trip to Canada, while hibernating near the future Quebec City, his men contracted a deadly epidemic. 25 of the 110 men who made up the expedition lost their lives. Jacques Cartier invokes the Sailors Saint Patron and prays for help. The saint´s answer is materialized by meeting an indigenous tribe that suffered the same disease and who had a remedy based on white cedar extracts. By this mean, they ended the epidemic.
Back in France, the explorer, together with their men, made a pilgrimage of nearly 600 km. for thanksgiving to the virgin.
On the northern side of the cathedral, we can visit his tomb.
Place Jean de Châtillon 35400 Saint-Malo
WALKING THE WALLS!
The main attraction of the city is to walk the defensive area of Saint-Malo, an exciting and historical 1,754-meter promenade. It takes about 45 minutes, where we can closely appreciate the different towers and bastions that shape its defensive system. The views inside and outside the walls are remarkable.
Feel free to walk up and down along all the stairs at the gates of the wall.
This walled enclosure was built in three major phases:
The construction of the wall began in 1144 and covers a 16 hectares area. The granite wall extended down to the rocky beach until the attachment of the piers in 1582.
The first expansion took place at the end of the XVII century under the instructions of the great military engineer Vauban. In 1709, Saint-Vincent Gate was opened to gain land over the sea. A new neighborhood with a bomb-proof vaulted roof was built. Many of these mansions were owned by merchants enriched with the gold that came from Peru. Europamundo encourages you to start your walk through this door. From this part of the wall, we can see the marina and a replica of the corsair ship "L ´Étoile du Roy", “the Star of the King”, the second-largest frigate of its time (46 meters length, 3 masts, and 20 canyons).
The third phase goes from 1709 to 1742. It was devised by the Parisian engineer Siméon de Guaranguea, undertaking the expansion in the southeast area until reaching the actual 24 hectares.
During the Second World War, in August 1944, the German troops took refuge inside the walls. The North American aviation constant bombardments destroyed the entire city. Luckily or by a miracle, the walls were the only buildings saved from destruction.
After starting the walk through the San Vicent Gate, we propose you continue towards Saint Louis Gate, which opened in 1824.
Outside the wall, we can see the commercial port divided into four basins. From this port, agricultural products and wood are exported and granite is imported. This is the second commercial port in Brittany. The passenger port covers lines to the British Isles accounting for one million passengers per year. Inside the walls is the banks street, where passengers from the British Isles exchange their pounds into euros.
The next gate is the Dinan Gate, opened in the XVII century, also known as the Bishop´s Gate because it was through which bishops entered the city. There is a plaque in Latin on which you can read "the bishop, Lord of the Villa, gave the land for its expansion."
It was also known as the Marina Gate as Marina offices are established on one side of the entrance, on 1 Rue Saint-Philippe. The famous corsair Surcouf lived in number 2 after his marriage in 1801.
The following gates give access to the beaches. From this side of the wall, we have excellent views over the Emerald Coast and the Grand Bé and Petit Bé and the nearest islands.
Finally, we recommend walking down to the Castle where we will find the restaurants and shopping streets.
Contemplating the sea is one of the most relaxing activities we can do. To sit for some minutes on the sand of the beach or on the boardwalk, to contemplate the sea... will evade, relax and energize us. In Saint-Malo, there are kilometers of beach to enjoy the ocean´s wildness. Saint-Malo has three beaches bordering its wall: Sillon beach, Hoguette beach, and Rochebonne beach. The best known and the most beautiful is undoubtedly the "du Sillon" beach that stretches for three kilometers.
It is the beach that usually appears in the postcards invaded by immense waves and a stormy sea. Please pay attention to all those oak wood stakes arranged along its promenade retaining wall. The stakes are buried the same meters deep as we see them on the outside. Its function is to protect the retaining wall of the promenade from the fierceness of the storms during the high tides.
In this part of France, the tides are immense, they are twice as normal. Low tide leaves a width of area that far exceeds 100 meters. The variation between high and low tide is 14 meters. This phenomenon is known as “le marnage”, a greatness and beautiful spectacle.
The amplitude of the tide serves to produce energy. The tidal energy is produced by taking advantage of the tides; by the other side, the ocean wave energy uses the sea waves. They are sustainable and renewable, that is, their use is inexhaustible and not a polluting source.
Just 10 km away is the "La Rance" tidal-wave energy center, a hydroelectric power station built in the Rance River estuary. Constructed between 1963 and 1966, its 24 turbines produce 500 GWh, the amount of energy needed to supply a city of 225,000 inhabitants for one year.
Wellcome to Europamundo Vacations, your in the international site of:
Bienvenido a Europamundo Vacaciones, está usted en el sitio internacional de: