Saint-Malo was founded in the 1st century BC a short distance away from where it stands today. The Romans later fortified the city. A monastery was established in the 6th century by Irish monks. Around that time the rocky island in the north was named after the celtic bishop Maclou.
The rock known as Saint-Malo was connected to the mainland by a mere causeway of sand. This was its natural defence during the raids conducted by the Vikings. What remains of the ancient ramparts were added in the 12th century by Bishop Jean de Chatillon.
Saint-Malo’s citizens traditionally exhibited a fiercely independent spirit. This strength of character and determination kept them in frequent conflict with the rulers of France, Brittany and England. This spirit was epitomized by the city’s sailor merchants. They gained their riches from pillaging foreign ships out of The English Channel. Granted license by the King of France, they were free to go “coursing” after enemy vessels from which they retained a percentage of the profit of all captured ships and were known as corsairs. Squint your eyes on the shore as the sun is setting and it doesn’t take much imagination to visualise corsairs on the horizon.
While Saint-Malo sustained heavy damage during WWII, much has been done to restore it to its former glory. Today it is one of the most popular places to visit in Brittany.
Regardless of the time of day, the beach of Saint Malo can take your breath away.
Yet, the beaches are stunning and deserve a post of their own. Perhaps they can entice you to visit this charming city? Dig your feet into the sands and gaze out to where pirates once ruled the waves.