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24 things to do in St-Malo (and around)

24 things to do in St-Malo (and around)

Brittany City Guide Emerald Coast France Saint-Malo Saint-Malo activities

I am from Brittany, and more specifically from St-Malo. So I particularly like to talk about my home town and visit St-Malo, as often as I can.

The old town of Saint-Malo is known (and recognized) for its historic aspect. And even though I live in Montreal now, every time I say I’m from Brittany, the same question always comes up: what are the things to see in St-Malo?

So it was time for me to list the 24 things to do in St-Malo Intra-Muros.

town of st malo in france

What to do in St-Malo Intra-Muros?

  1. Walk around the ramparts
  2. Have a drink on the Place Chateaubriand
  3. Stroll along the port
  4. Visit the Saint-Vincent cathedral
  5. Walk on the beach
  6. Observe the Bés
  7. Shopping on Saint-Vincent street
  8. Take a gourmet break
  9. See the high tides
  10. Visit the National Fort
  11. Discover the Demeure du Corsaire
  12. Visit the Maison du Québec
  13. Visit the micro-zoo
  14. Admire the Môle des Noires lighthouse
  15. Discover the Etoile du Roy
  16. Watch a lock passage

What to do outside of Intra-Muros ?

  1. Stroll in the City of Alet
  2. Go to the Grand Aquarium
  3. Visit a malouinière
  4. Discover the sculpted rocks of Rothéneuf
  5. Walk along the dike to observe the villas
  6. Do the Aquatonic circuit of the Thermes Marins

Events not to be missed in St-Malo in 2023

  1. Étonnants Voyageurs
  2. Quai des Bulles

Visit St-Malo Intra-Muros: the must-sees

Saint-Malo is mostly known for its old town and it is indeed within the city that the main points of interest of the city are located. Here are some tips to enjoy the Corsair City and not miss anything of the city during your stay in St-Malo!

Walk around the ramparts

Symbol of the old town of St-Malo, you can’t visit Saint-Malo Intra-Muros without walking on the ramparts. 1.7 kilometers long, there are different accesses to climb the ramparts. The main one is near the Saint-Vincent gate. The view on the Emerald Coast is absolutely magical from there!

You will be able to see the city of Dinard and even the peak of Cap Fréhel. On the other side, the Sillon beach extends to Rochebonne. Continuing the walk, I’m sure you’ll love to see the port of St-Malo.

My advice? Take a picnic, or buy a small galette on the road and go eat it at the Bastion de la Hollande, above Bon Secours beach. You'll have a breathtaking view of the Grand Bé, Dinard and the Emerald Coast.

Have a drink on the Chateaubriand place

At the entrance of St-Malo, the Chateaubriand place gathers many cafés and restaurants. Some of them are really nice.

I think in particular of the Lion d’Or, if you want a brasserie type meal. On the other hand, the Café de Saint-Malo is the ideal place for seafood fans. But if you just want to have a drink, I can only recommend the bar of the Univers, an institution in Saint-Malo. There are as many locals as travelers!

It is also on the Chateaubriand place that you will have the most beautiful view on the Castle of St-Malo. This one used to host a museum that has just closed its doors. From now on, there is only the town hall of the city.

Strolling along the port

I love walking along the port of St-Malo. Sometimes, there are big boats that come to moor for a few days, it’s really nice!

port of st malo

The most interesting is when the lock is open and the boats enter or leave the harbor. When we are in car, we complain a little to be blocked. But it remains a rather surprising spectacle!

Every 4 years, the port is occupied by the boats of the Route du Rhum. The last edition just took place in November 2022 and it was absolutely crazy! Can’t wait for the next one, in 2026!

Have a look at the Saint-Vincent cathedral

Its full name is Saint-Vincent-De-Saragosse, but in St-Malo, it is mostly known as Saint-Vincent Cathedral.

st malo cathedral

The cathedral dominates the Corsair City since it is located in the heart of the Intra-Muros. Like most religious buildings this old (construction began in the 12th century), it has a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles which makes it a magnificent building. Personally, it is the stained glass rose window that amazes me. When you are inside and the sun shines on it, the colors are magical.

Masses are held several times a week and of course, they are open to all. I invite you to consult the website of the cathedral to know all the schedules (their website is only in english).

Stroll on the beach

The old town is surrounded by beautiful beaches: Bon Secours, le Môle and l’Eventail. The Bon Secours and Môle beaches are more protected from the wind, but the Eventail beach, which becomes the Sillon beach, is much larger: it’s up to you to decide what you prefer. By the way, the Sillon beach has just been elected most beautiful beach in France and ranked in the top 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe.

st malo sillon beach

You can also choose to discover the 3 beaches of St-Malo Intra-Muros one after the other, you can only be amazed by their beauty!

Go on the Grand Bé (and observe the Petit Bé fort)

The Grand Bé is located on the beach of Bon Secours. At the top, you will find the tomb of Chateaubriand, who wished to be buried facing the sea. But you will also have a breathtaking view on Intra-Muros. The climb is not that easy, but it is really worth it.

However, be careful with the tides if you decide to go there. Regularly, some absent-minded peopleget trapped and are forced to get their feet wet (or even more!) to cross again.

grand be and petit be in st malo

Once you are up there, take the opportunity to look behind you. Indeed, behind the Grand Bé is the Fort du Petit Bé. This fortification was built to protect St-Malo in the 17th century. It is possible to go up on the island and visit the Fort at low tide.

Shopping in St-Vincent street(or in the small streets around)

The Corsair City is not only a historical city. There are also many shops open every day of the week (even on Sunday!). In addition to traditional souvenir stores or typical Breton clothing stores, such as Saint-James (pronounced as it is written and not “Saint Jaimes”, like in english), there are also national brands like Bessec or Promod.

You may not want to visit St-Malo to do some shopping, but you could find small artisans who make very nice products!

Take a gourmet break

Brittany is known for its gastronomy. You want to eat a good galette followed by a butter-sugar crepe? Go to Grain Noir, a small and friendly creperie located in the heart of the old town. For a good salad, a quiche or a good tea, Bergamote le salon de thé is made for you!

See the high tides

The bay of Saint-Malo is the scene of the highest tides in Europe. During the highest coefficients, the tidal range (the difference between low and high tide) can reach 13 meters! This spectacle, as rare as it is breathtaking, is not to be missed, believe me. And if the wind is blowing, you could be treated to a spectacular scenery.

high tides in st malo

The change of landscapes is really crazy, don’t you think? If someone asked me “What to do in Saint-Malo?” and I could only answer one thing, it is the spectacle of the high tides that I would recommend. It is really to be seen at least once, so impressive!

My advice? Go up to the ramparts to get the best view. Then, walk to have a look above the Éventail beach to have a clear view on the National Fort and the Sillon beach.

Visit the National Fort

On the Eventail beach, the National Fort dominates the Corsair City. It is a former Royal Fort built in 1689 according to plans drawn by Vauban on the orders of Louis XIV. It’ a real must-see of Saint-Malo. If you want, you can visit it, but be careful, the opening hours vary according to the tide!

national fort in st malo

If you are a fan of history, you should know that all the visits are narrated by a passionate guide. Each tour lasts 35 minutes and costs only 5 euros per person (3 euros for children under 16).

You can find all the information you need directly on the Fort National website!

Visit the Demeure du Corsaire

A little bit like the Malouinières (which I’ll talk about below), the Demeure du Corsaire is a real attraction in its own right. This building located in the heart of the old city, near the Saint-Louis gate, is entirely classified as a historical monument.

demeure du corsaire in st malo

It is a private mansion with a rather sober facade, but which has no less than 59 rooms! Under constant renovation, it is possible to visit the Demeure du Corsaire with a guide. Don’t hesitate to check the schedule of visits on the website of the Demeure du Corsaire.

Take a tour of the Maison du Québec

Did you know that Saint-Malo is twinned with Gaspé, a city in Quebec?

Since 1984, Saint-Malo has made available to Quebec a small stone house in the heart of the city, as a sign of friendship between the 2 countries. The objective? To remind that Jacques Cartier, born in Saint-Malo, discovered Canada after leaving Saint-Malo.

maison du quebec in st malo france

Even if I suppose you plan to visit Saint-Malo to discover Brittany, you will surely be charmed to discover Canadian landscapes, and more particularly pictures of Quebec.

Sometimes, events are organized, such as concerts or conferences. For more information, I invite you to visit their website.

Visit the micro-zoo

Opened in June 2020, the micro-zoo is an activity in Saint-Malo that is worth a visit. First, because the setting is quite original. The micro-zoo occupies the old aquarium of Saint-Malo, which is located in the ramparts, near the Porte Saint-Thomas (at the entrance of the city).

At the micro-zoo, you will only see tiny animals! You will have the opportunity to discover a rather original fauna. The mini crocodiles will certainly make you fall in love with them, but personally, I enjoyed watching the habitat of the leafcutter ants the most! Plan to spend 45 minutes to 1 hour if you want to enjoy the visit

microzoo in st malo

The micro-zoo was founded by enthusiasts who wanted to show animals that we don’t necessarily have the chance to know. It’s an ideal walk on rainy days (very rare in Saint-Malo, don’t worry), but also to discover a different aspect of the Corsair City. The entrance ticket costs 9,50€ for adults and it is open from 10am to 8pm in high season.

Admire the Môle des Noires lighthouse

If you go around the ramparts of Saint-Malo, you will certainly notice the Môle des Noires. This dike was built to protect the outer harbor and break the waves. We realize its effectiveness when there is a storm. On one side, the sea is very agitated, on the other, it is very calm!

The Môle des Noires was built more than 180 years ago. It is named after the rocks on which it was built. As you can see, these rocks are completely black!

It is possible to walk to the end of this dike and get as close as possible to the lighthouse. It’s not the biggest, nor the most impressive lighthouse, but it’s still a nice place to take nice pictures. The view on Saint-Malo is different at the end of the dike.

Discover the Etoile du Roy

We know that Saint-Malo is lucky to have a very beautiful port. But did you know that you can also see old sailing ships?

The Etoile du Roy is probably the most mythical boat of Saint-Malo. This 3-masted ship is a replica of an 18th century frigate! It weighed more than 310 tons for 47 meters long. While the original version could accommodate 235 sailors, its replica allows up to 120 people to sail.

etoile du roy in st malo france
Source : AdobeStock

It is very often moored in front of the Saint-Vincent Gate of the old city and it is possible to visit it from July to September.

Watching the passage of a lock

There are 2 locks in St-Malo. It’s very convenient to let the boats out and in the harbor. On the other hand, when you are a pedestrian or in a car, it can be annoying to stay blocked! And yes, when the lock is open, the road is closed!

But to see the boats passing in this thin corridor of water is also quite impressive. So enjoy the show! There are several passages per day, don’t hesitate to ask the port of Saint-Malo if you are interested.

My advice? If you really like to see the passage of a lock, I recommend you to come to the Route du Rhum. There are bleachers and you can see all the participants of the race entering or leaving the harbor for the big start!

What to do in St-Malo outside of Intra-Muros?

If you have some time and the possibility to leave the old town, there are many other interesting things to do in Saint-Malo.

Stroll in the Cité d’Alet

The Cité d’Alet is not really located in St-Malo Intra-Muros, but it can be reached on foot in only 15 minutes.

cite d'alet in st malo france

It is a real little heaven, you can walk by the Emerald Coast. From the Cité d’Alet, there is a superb view on Intra-Muros, the Port des Bas Sablons but also on Dinard. I love going there to recharge my batteries!

Discover the Solidor Tower

Close to the City of Alet, the Solidor Tower rises and dominates the district of Saint-Servan. This old medieval keep has for a long time housed a museum. Unfortunately, it has recently closed.

It is therefore no longer possible to visit the interior, but the exterior architecture is worth a look! You will be able to see the cross that was built in honor of Jacques Cartier. And yes, it is from the Solidor Tower that Jacques Cartier set out for the Americas when he discovered Canada.

Go to the Grand Aquarium

As we know, the weather is not always perfect in Brittany and that’s why many people look for indoor activities in case of rain. Not only is the Grand Aquarium in St-Malo the ideal activity, but it’s also something not to be missed, even when the weather is nice!

This aquarium has made a name for itself in the region over the years by regularly adding activities. In addition to observing the marine flora and fauna, you can also take a ride on the submarine, the Nautibus, or dive into the abyss with their latest addition.

Since April 2023, it is also possible to observe an underground cave in 360°! For the moment, we can see a turtle or rays. Eventually, more than 20 different species will populate the basin.

If they are not too shy, the rays can be stroked in the outdoor pool. But don’t worry, there are also other pools inside, where the fish are more colorful than the others.

Visit a malouinière

We often recognize a region by its architecture. In Brittany, it is often the old grey stones that stand out. In Saint-Malo, in particular, the Malouinières seduce.

malouiniere de la chipaudiere in st malo france
Source : Depositphotos – Malouinière de la Chipaudière

These large houses that are often found in the countryside were mostly built in the late eighteenth century. The inhabitants of St-Malo at the time were a little cramped within the walls of the old town and wanted more space.

Many of these Malouinières have disappeared, others are still inhabited now, but some are open to the public and can be visited.

If you are interested in discovering a typical dwelling of Saint-Malo, you can visit the Malouinière de la Ville Bague or the one of La Chipaudière.

Discover the Sculptured Rocks of Rothéneuf

If there is an unusual activity to do in Saint-Malo, it is the discovery of the Sculpted Rocks of Rothéneuf. This district of St-Malo, now apart from the city, is home to an amazing sight.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Abbot Fouré carved figures directly into the granite or wood on the coastline. For dozens of meters, figures rise up and overhang the coast.

Accompanied by a guide and during 2 hours, you can discover this more than original environment.

Walk along the seawall to observe the villas

All along the beach of the Sillon, a dike is accessible by pedestrians. If you like to observe the sea, it is the ideal place for a stroll.

walk on the sillon in st malo

But the dike is also lined with magnificent villas from the late 19th century. Do not miss the Duguay-Trouin villa and its rounded facade or the Castel Marie villa and its turret. You will also see buildings with atypical colors or covered with mosaics!

Take the Aquatonic circuit of the Thermes Marins

You want to be pampered a little? Why not take a break at the Thermes De Saint-Malo? The establishment is recognized throughout the region and it is not mandatory to stay at the hotel to enjoy the services.

Of course, you have the traditional massages and treatments of all kinds, but there is also the Aquatonic circuit. For 40€ per person, you can enjoy a course that covers 200m2. There are nearly 200 jets of varying intensity, but also different stations.

For example, there is a counter-current walking corridor and waterfalls. The seawater comes directly from the English Channel and is heated from 30 to 34°C. There is also a large sauna, hammam and an ice fountain.

Ideal for a real moment of relaxation! All practical information on their website.

What to do in Saint-Malo in 2023?

Several important events will take place in Saint-Malo in 2023, here is a little recap to not miss anything!

Going to the Festival Étonnants Voyageurs

As every year, the famous literature festival Étonnants Voyageurs will take place in Saint-Malo the last weekend of May, from May 27 to 29, 2023.

During 3 days, various events are organized throughout the city: meetings with writers, exhibitions, literary awards and a large book fair will be on the program.

If you are a lover of literature, this is THE event of the year not to be missed!

Visit Quai des Bulles

Another literary festival but focused on comics, Quai des Bulles will bring together from 27 to 29 October 2023 the best authors and cartoonists.

The objective of this festival is to promote and highlight the work of comic book authors. For that, different exhibitions are organized during the 3 days of the event, in addition to different contests.

I loved going there a few years ago and discovering less known artists. A good time that I strongly recommend!

My Malouine’s advice to visit Saint-Malo

Now that you know all the activities to do to discover Saint-Malo, it’s time to think about the practical side: where to sleep, what to eat and most of all, how to get there?

Where to sleep in Saint-Malo Intra-Muros?

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m not a big fan of AirBnB. I sometimes book them when I have no other choice. But whenever possible, I prefer to book a hotel. I like this comfort and I like to arrive saying to myself that I have nothing to do but enjoy!

And I am the daughter of hoteliers, so it is a way for me to support the profession which has suffered a lot lately. And precisely…

The Hotel des Abers

I recommend a charming family establishment located in the heart of the old town, the Hôtel des Abers. This hotel is managed by my parents, so I know it particularly well!

Their 3 star establishment has been completely renovated in the last few years. I myself helped in the choice of the decoration with my parents. And for the anecdote, I lived in one of the rooms for a while before moving to Montreal: so it’s tested and approved!

Breakfast is clearly their strong point: you will find many local specialties, but also home-made products. Would you like to have a hot crepe with your orange juice? Exactly what you need to start the day before discovering Saint-Malo!

hotel des abers is st malo
room in the hotel des abers

La Maison des Armateurs

If your weekend in Saint-Malo is an opportunity to treat yourself a little, you can opt for a 4-star hotel. La Maison des Armateurs is a charming hotel located in the heart of the old town. Their rooms are spacious and very well appointed.

4 stars means higher rates, but you could make good deals by booking in advance on their website!

Where to eat in Saint-Malo?

There is no lack of restaurants in Saint-Malo. We can even say that there is something for everyone!

In a blink of an eye, here is my preference if you want…

Where to have a drink ?

To enjoy a good moment with your friends and family, here is my selection of the most trendy places in Saint-Malo.

How to get to Saint-Malo?

It is very easy to get to Saint-Malo, no matter where you come from!

By train

I’ll start with the train, because it’s clearly the most efficient way of transportation! A TGV station is located at 2 km from the old town. So you can easily reach Intra-Muros, on foot, by cab or by bus, once you arrive in Saint-Malo.

If you come from Paris, you should know that a high speed train (LGV) connects the capital to Rennes. The journey takes 1h30. Then, either you change for a TER in Rennes, or you continue by TGV if you have a direct line. 50 minutes later, you are in Saint-Malo!

st malo france

By car

Saint-Malo is very easily accessible by car. On the other hand, it is more complicated to park, especially during the summer and during the big weekends. Hotels in the old town rarely offer parking.

Around the city walls, however, you will find outdoor parking and a large underground parking lot. Whenever possible, use the outdoor parking lots, which are three times cheaper (a few euros per day compared to 33 euros per 24 hours in high season)! But they are often overcrowded in high season.

Otherwise, you have the option of parking Paul Féval. This parking lot is further away from the Intra-Muros city, but it is also much cheaper (3,30€ for 24h). With your ticket, you can take a shuttle bus that will leave you at the entrance of the old town in only a few minutes.

By plane

The airport of Rennes is located at 1 hour from Saint-Malo. It serves the main cities of France and Europe. Buses allow you to reach either the Rennes train station or Saint-Malo directly.

I hope my tips for visiting Saint-Malo will help you plan your stay there. Don’t hesitate to follow me on social networks, especially on Instagram, where I talk a lot about Saint-Malo and share tips and tricks to make the most of the Corsair City.

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Sarah - Carnets Vanille

Hello! I’m Sarah, a Malouin at heart, living in Montreal for a few years. Carnets Vanille is an opportunity for me to combine my two passions, writing and travel, by sharing with you about the two corners of the world that excite me, Quebec and Brittany. I share my discoveries, provide tips to help you plan your visits, and also offer recommendations on the best restaurants and accommodations.

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Buy for 9,90€