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- 21 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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Clutching tenuously to the edge of northern France by man-made causeways, Saint Malo is a striking sight. Waves lash at its Medieval walls before the tide recedes to reveal golden-sand beaches with pathways leading to the town’s dramatic outcrop islands. Once home to pirates, its walled old town contains centuries of history, as well as some of Brittany's best crêpes (according to the locals!).
Stay in a Saint Malo hostel based on the edge of the town, within walking distance of the beach. Or choose a historic seafront building with views out to the ocean or in a hostel just 2km from the town centre. Some come with bike rental and free Wi-Fi, while others have extras such as a fitness centre, sauna and tennis courts. If you're budgeting, check out Saint Malo hostels with a free breakfast and a shared kitchen.
Intra Muros, literally meaning "inside the walls", is Saint Malo’s historic old town. Head down some of the back alleys to discover small squares and gardens. Below the city walls, you’ll find a strip of sand which extends all the way to the neighbouring town of Paramé. Add a visit to Dinard to your itinerary; it's northern France’s answer to the French Riviera. A favourite of celebrities and royalty in the 19th century, this upscale seaside town has a Mediterranean-style waterside and more than 400 listed buildings.
At low tide, walk across the sands to visit tidal island Grand Bé. As well as having remains of an ancient fort, it offers views back towards the old town. There’s also Fort National, another of the town’s tidal islands. Back in town, you can climb the stairs to the town’s ramparts and walk its length (about 2km). For the best foodie experiences, head to the indoor market at Halle au Blé, try local cheeses in a bistro or seek out a café for the region's delicacies like galette (buckwheat pancakes).
Dinard-Pleurtuit-St-Malo Airport is the nearest airport and has flights from the UK. The taxi ride to the town centre will take about 20 minutes. If you’re visiting from England's coast, head to Portsmouth and take the ferry over the channel. From Paris, the train ride is 3 hours and takes you to Saint Malo’s train station, which is a 20-minute walk from the town centre. Once in town, you can get around by bus.