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Ophorus Tours - Saint-Malo

Shore Excursions / Atlantic Coast

Saint-Malo

Discover the charming port town of Saint Malo with its old town, 12th century remparts, cobbled streets and granite buildings. The major attractions include Saint Malo Castle, the National Fort, as well as the Aquarium that houses more than 500 species.

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Learn more about Saint-Malo

Saint Malo Travel Guide (Brittany, France) Discover the charming port town of Saint Malo with its old town, 12th century remparts, cobbled streets and granite buildings. The major attractions include Saint Malo Castle, the National Fort, as well as the Aquarium that houses more than 500 species. Saint Malo is a port town located in Brittany, France, on the coast of the English Channel. The town curves out to sea on a natural harbour, on the Rance Estuary, and the Old Town is completely surrounded by massive remparts. The name of the town originates from the name of a Welsh monk Maclovius or Maclou in French.  The Golden Age of Saint Malo The most significant period of history for the town ...

Saint Malo Travel Guide (Brittany, France)

Discover the charming port town of Saint Malo with its old town, 12th century remparts, cobbled streets and granite buildings. The major attractions include Saint Malo Castle, the National Fort, as well as the Aquarium that houses more than 500 species.

Saint Malo is a port town located in Brittany, France, on the coast of the English Channel. The town curves out to sea on a natural harbour, on the Rance Estuary, and the Old Town is completely surrounded by massive remparts. The name of the town originates from the name of a Welsh monk Maclovius or Maclou in French. 

The Golden Age of Saint Malo

The most significant period of history for the town is the 16th & 17th centuries. Because of its strategic position as the last main Channel port for the merchant ships heading south, the port rapidly became home to Privateers (Corsaires or Pirates) that would pillage and plunder English and Dutch ships. This made the town quite rich and it allowed ship owners to build large mansions called malouinières that are part of the architectural highlights of the town.

One of the best known French Privateers was René Dugyay-Trouin born in Saint Malo in 1673. Captain at 18, he took command of a 40-gunner at the tender age of 21. He captured more than 300 merchant ships and 16 warships. Louis XV made him lieutenant-general of the naval armies.

The other most well known figure of Privateering is Robert Surcouf. waged war against English commerce. His most dastardly feat was the capture of the Kent, a powerful 1200 ton ship of the East India Company.

This act of piracy earned him the title of King of the Corsairs, making him one of the richest and most powerful men in Saint-Malo. Both men have their statues in Saint Malo.

Jacques Cartier, a famous explorer

Yet the most well known person born in Saint Malo is without a doubt Jacques Cartier. Born in Saint Malo in 1491 he was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Laurent River which he named the Country of Canadas, 1534. Cartier's professional abilities can be easily ascertained.

Considering that Cartier made three voyages of exploration in dangerous and hitherto unknown waters without losing a ship, and that he entered and departed some 50 undiscovered harbours without serious mishap, he may be considered one of the most conscientious explorers of the period.

Things to see & do in Saint Malo

Highlights of the small town of Saint Malo include a walk along the remparts of the town. Entering by Saint Vincent gate, follow the walls from Bastion to Bastion passing along the rich houses of Saint Malo shipowners. Take in the stunning views both over the town and over the sea. It is quite interesting to know that most of the buildings were completely rebuilt as Saint Malo suffered near complete destruction during WWII.

Historical city center

Once you have walked along the walled town, discover the intra muros area of St Malo. Within the city walls, the town is made up of cobbled streets lined with granite façade buildings all restored after the bombings that took place in 1944 during world war II. Here, take in the local atmosphere especially busy in the summer months as this is where most of the bars, restaurants and shops are located.

Saint Malo Aquarium

Another major attraction is the Grand Aquarium that is home to more than 500 species. One of the most popular visits within the Aquarium is the tactile pool where it is possible to touch fish found off the coast of Brittany. If you are traveling with your family, then the Brittany Coast makes for perfect days out.

You must not forget that Saint Malo is a seaside resort of the Emerald Coast and as such is home to many sandy beaches such as Plage du Mole or de Bon Secours. On low tides reach the Grand Bé Island by foot or the Fort National built by Vauban in 1689.

Our Shore Excursions from Saint Malo

As a leading service provider we organize private shore excursions from Saint Malo. If your cuise ship is in Saint Malo Port of Call and you wish to experience a small group personalized tour then don't hesitate to contact us.

D-Day Normandy Beaches and Sites

Our private shore excursion from Saint Malo Cruise Port include a day trip to the Normandy D-Day landing beaches including Utah beach and the Airborne museum in Sainte Mère Eglise. On this private shore excursion it is also possible for us to include the visit of Omaha beach, Pointe du Hoc or the American Cemetery located in Colleville sur Mer. As this is a private tour, we can customize this tour completely so that you can visit the D-Day sights that are important to you.

Mont Saint Michel Shore Excursion from Saint Malo

Another popular shore excursion from Saint Malo is the day trip to the neighbouring Mont Saint Michel. With our expert English speaking local driver/guides, visit the Abbey and take some time in the medieval village of Mont St Michel. You will also have time for personal discovery.

Please note that this is a challenging climb as it is done on cobble street stones. If you do decide to visit the abbey, the history of its construction will be explained in detail and while you are there, make sure to snap some pictures of the amazing views on the surrounding bay!

Visit the Charming small town of Dinan

Finally, for those with a short time in St Malo you can opt for our half day private shore excursion to Dinan, a charming small town of Brittany and that you will discover with your guide. The discreet small town of Dinan is located on the sides of a plateau above the Rance river. From afar, its castle surrounded by remparts dominates and protects the old town where half timbered houses and mansions built of granit stand alongside to each other in a most harmonious way.

A visit to Dinan is a sure way to take a leap back in time. after some free time, it will be time to head towards the small village of Saint Suliac. Follow your guide for a short walk in the historical part of the town, then enjoy some free time for personal discovery.

Take part in a small group private Guided Walking tour of Saint Malo

We also offer a great small group private guided walking tour of Saint Malo for those who would like to know more about the History & Culture of this wonderful small town. The most emblematic ‘Privateer’ Town of France is ready for a visit. Surrounded by remparts made of granite, enter the walled city through the gate of Saint Vincent.

Pick up directly at your cruise ship. Built in the beginning of the 12th century, they remained intact during the bombings of the second world war. Then, from one neighborhood to another, admire the imposing houses of the rich shipowners of beyond.

As your tour continues, pass the medieval castle that today houses the History Museum of the town. Next to the castle, the Quic-en-Groigne tower was built under the reign of Anne de Bretagne. Other interesting sites include the old historic city center of St Malo as well as the national Fort that protected the town and was built under the orders of Military engineer Vauban in 1689.

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FAQ

  • What is Saint Malo famous for?

    Saint Malo is famous for being the home town of Jacques Cartier, an explorer, who discovered parts of Canada including what is today Quebec & Montreal. The town is also famous for having been one of the main ports for Privateers in the 16th & 17th century that pillaged English and Dutch merchant ships heading south.
  • Is Saint Malo Worth Visiting?

    Yes, absolutely. Saint Malo is one of those charming small towns of France. Even though it can be busy in the summer months of July and August, if you are able to travel there out of these dates then this seaside resort of France has many attractions to offer. The most interesting things to do & see in Saint Malo include a walk along the remparts, a visit of the intra muros old town, a visit of the Grand Aquarium, St Servan District and the many sandy beaches of the area.
  • Why was Saint Malo bombed?

    As Saint Malo was an essential location in the wall of the Atlantic defensive system put in place by the Germans, it suffered intense bombings by the allies during the months of August and September of 1944. The Germans finally surrendered on September 2, 1944 and it took 12 years to completely rebuild the town.
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