Saint Malo - Day 2:
Main Attractions: Statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais, Bastion Saint Louis, Porte Saint Louis, la Grande Porte, Porte Saint Vincent, L'Etoile du Roy, Place Chateaubriand, Château de Saint-Malo, Cour la Houssaye, Saint-Malo Cathedral, Rue Porcon de la Barbinais, Grand Rue, Rue des Vieux Remparts, Porte de Dinan, Bastion Saint-Philippe, Creperie le Corps de Garde, Place Gasnier Duparc, Place de la Croix du Fief, Place de la Poissonnerie, Place du Pilori, Place aux Herbes, Passage Grande Hermine, La maison du Sarrasin.
Orientation: we dedicate the second day in Saint-Malo to a nice, picturesque and quaint day of strolls in old Saint-Mal, o INTO THE WALLS. Most of our itinerary, today, are the narrow roads of Saint-Malo intra-muros. We'll take a glimpse, here and there, of the ocean, as well...
Start & End: Statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais, Rond-Point de l'Île Maurice. Duration: 1 day. Distance: 11-12 km.
A short introduction: we found Saint -Malo to be one of the most picturesque and beautiful town in Europe. It retains its medieval character, it is quite quaint and pastoral. Even if flooded by herds of tourists - its vast area and variety of parts (inland, coastal or into the ocean), still, let it be explored leisurely, quietly, with no pressure of noise and dirt - and... almost free (with no admission fees or other "penalties"). Saint-Malo is NOT a tourist trap. It holds true - IF you have a sunny day in Saint-Malo. We think it is worthwhile to dedicate a second, ADDITIONAL, day to Saint-Malo under the condition that both your staying days - are SUNNY, not windy or rainy. Bonne Chance with your couple of days in Saint-Malo !
Our 2nd day Itinerary: We start at the most south-east corner of Saint Malo walls, at Rond-Point de l'Île Maurice - where stands the statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais. We, actually, start our daily route in the square where Espl. de la Bourse and Quai Saint-Louis intersect out of the walls (Rue de Chartres and Rue d'Orléans intersect into the town). We walk along Quai Saint-Louis from south to north along (out of) the walls on our left.
Beyond the walls you can see the bright roof of Bastion Saint Louis, 1 Rue d'Orléans (see our Tipter blog from 13 May 2017 - "Saint-Malo Day 1"). The bastion, named in honour of King Louis XIV began, was constructed in 1714, during the second expansion of the city and was completed in 1721 during the third increase of Saint-Malo. It defended the access to harbour. During the French Revolution, the ground floor housed the terrible guillotine. Bastion Saint-Louis occupies the south-east corner of the town wall and, along with Bastion Saint-Philippe to the south-west and the curtain walls that link it to the Porte de Dinan, forms the town’s second expansion (1714-1720). This whole neighbourhood was created by filling in the sea, based on plans drawn up by the engineer Siméon de Garengeau (Paris 1647 - Saint-Malo 1741):
130 m. further north from the statue - we see Porte Saint Louis on our left. This is one of the 8 gates to enter within the fortified walls. With their 1754 m, the city walls are a major attraction of the city. Some gates date back to the 15th century and are decorated by original sculptures:
210 m. further nort we arrive to la Grande Porte. This is the OLDEST gate of Saint-Malo walls. Built in the Middle Ages, during the 15th century, the Great Gate of the ramparts of Saint-Malo ensures the passage between the city and the Vauban basin. It was restored during the 16th century and during the following century, the belfry that surmounted it was destroyed. Every evening, a bell rang the closing of this entrance to the city. In the early nineteenth century, the gate's door was still the subject of development work. The Grande Porte or Grand'Porte is composed of two towers and an artillery platform, typical of the second half of the 15th century. There was a stone quay, which was located just outside this gate where goods from the South Seas, China and Arabia were off-loaded to be traded by the Saint-Malo ships' owners. The entrance takes you straight into the area where there are many restaurants:
We continue to walk additional 230 m. northward along Quai Saint-Vincent arriving to Porte Saint Vincent. The main and best way to walk into St Malo. This gate was built in 1708. The current gate is made of granite dates from 1733. Two Coats of Arms appear on the front gate: on the left (2nd photo below), the Coats of Arms of the City. On the right (3rd photo below), it symbolizes the Coat of Arms of the Duchy of Brittany:
Our next attraction is the... Tourist Information office and the adjacent L'Etoile du Roy or la frégate corsaire in Quai de Terre Neuve. It stands 250 m. east of the Saint-Vincent gate. You can't miss it with its blue-yellow colors. L'Etoile du Roy (the Royal Star) is a replica of a British corsair frigate ordered by Robert le Turc (long line of shipowners) and built in Saint-Malo in 1745 (the 18th century). Originally named Grand Turk , it was built in 1996 in Turkey (the British television series Hornblower) under the supervision of Michael Turk (heir to this long line of shipowners). This ship is 47 meters long, has 3 masts, 310 gross register tonnage, counted 240 sailors on board and was armed with 20 cannons. It is, actually, a floating museum. Open: everyday. Prices: adult - 6€, child - 3€, family - 15€.
Head west on Quai de Terre Neuve toward Espl. Saint-Vincent, 40 m. Turn right onto Espl. Saint-Vincent, 30 m. At the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Chaussée du Sillon, 60 m. and turn left, walking 80 to arrive to the beach - Plage de l'Éventail. This the idyllic, picturesque strip of beach opposite Fort National in the Petit Bé (small island), behind the entrance to the old town. During the low tide hours, it is also the point of entry to get to the island of Fort Vauban. Some snacks along the promenade and ramparts with a terrace of a refreshment bar. Access to this beach is via Chaussée du Sillon. No smoking is allowed on this beach. The sights of the fortifications on the Petit Bé - are wonderful. Nonetheless, the wooden pillars on the sea shore:
This is the best spot in Saint-Malo to see, so close, the Petit Bé island and its Vauban fort:
From the beach we renter the town and walk westward into the walls. From Plage de l'Éventail we, first, head east toward Chaussée du Sillon, 80 m. We turn right, 35 m. still along Chaussée du Sillon. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit, 130 m. Turn right onto Avenue Louis Martin, 40 m. Turn right onto Porte Saint-Thomas, 5 m. We turn left toward Place Chateaubriand for 25 m., turn further right toward Place Chateaubriand for 35 m. Now, we turn right, again, onto Place Chateaubriand, 50 m. and turn left to stay on Place Chateaubriand, 20 m. You can't miss the elegant building of Hotel Chateaubriand Saint-Malo. Built in the traditional neo-classical style of 19th-century French seaside resorts - but, inside, far beyond its past glory.
François-René Chateaubriand (4 September 1768 – 4 July 1848), was a French writer, politician, diplomat and historian. He was born in Saint-Malo in the house #3 rue Chateaubriand. Around the square are many hotels and restaurants including the famous Hotel White at # 2, where Chateaubriand lived from 3 to 8 years. The writer and his family were dislodged by a fire in 1776 and then returned to settle in the birthplace of François-René, the hotel de la Gicquelais located at number 3 rue Chateaubriand. Historical Monuments have since rebuilt identically the facade of the hotel White dating from the eighteenth century. On this square, Place Chateaubriand, are also the Château de Saint-Malo , Quic-en-Groigne Tower and the Museum of History of the city. The Château de Saint-Malo dates back to the 15th and 18th centuries. The construction of the castle was done in several stages. The construction of the great dungeon was ordered in 1424 by Duke Jean V of Brittany son-in-law of King Charles VI of France . In 1475 the General Tower which was built under the orders of Duke Francis II. From 1498 to 1501 the daughter of Duke Francis II, Anne of Brittany ordered to build the tower Quic-en-Groigne (in the north-west). Four other towers were raised a few years later, these are the Ladies' Tower (in the north-east), the Tour des Moulins (in the southeast), the Square Tower and the Petit Donjon. If you look closely at the shape of the castle, you will not fail to notice that it looks like a carriage, such was the wish of the Duchess. The History Museum of Saint-Malo has been located since 1927 in the Grand Donjon. The General Tower houses the Ethnography Museum. The Castle also hosts, nowadays, the Hôtel-de-Ville of Saint-Malo. The Museum of History of Saint-Malo traces the past of the corsair city through some famous people in Saint-Malo, like Jacques Cartier, Duguay-Trouin and François-René Chateaubriand. If you climb to the turrets of the Grand Donjon - you'll have a nice view of the northern Saint-Malo bay. Opening hours: APR-SEP: everyday 10.00 -12.30, 14.00 - 18.00; OCT-MAR: everyday except Mon 10.00 - 12.00, 14.00 - 18.00. Closed: 1 Jan, 1 May, 1 and 11 Nov, 25 Dec. Prices: adult - 6 € (child -8 years old 3 €), family - 15 €. Most of the explanations are in French.
From the Musée d'histoire de la ville in Place Chateaubriand you walk north on Place Chateaubriand, 20 m. Turn left to stay on Place Chateaubriand, 20 m. Place Chateaubriand turns slightly left and becomes Rue Chateaubriand, 90 m. Turn right onto Cour la Houssaye or Rue de la Corne de Cerf, 20 m. to see the pretty Cour la Houssaye (Courtyard La Houssaye). The house and garden of "La Houxaie" or Houssaye are mentioned in the oldest accounts of the city since the end of the 15th century. The architectural details of the turret house located at Rue de la Corne de Cerf No. 2 date back to this time and can be considered as the oldest house in the city. Tradition says that Anne de Bretagne would have stayed there when she came to inspect the work of the castle.
Rue de la Corne de Cerf meets Rue de Pelicot in its west end. In their intersection - you can see these interesting panel with carved medallions representing the profiles of Jacques Cartier (Saint-Malo, 1491 - Saint-Malo, 1557) and his wife, Catherine Granges, who lived on rue de Buhen (now rue Chateaubriand):
From Cour la Houssaye head southwest on Rue de la Corne de Cerf toward Rue du Pelicot. Continue to follow Rue de la Corne de Cerf, 15 m. Continue onto Escalier de la Grille, 20 m.
Turn left onto Rue Mahé de la Bourdonnais, 5 m. Continue onto Rue du Gras Mollet, 60 m. Continue onto Rue du Collège:
Head south on Rue du Collège toward Rue de la Blatrerie, 40 m. Slight right onto Rue de la Blatrerie, 40 m. Turn left onto Place Jean de Châtillon, 15 m.
Saint-Malo Cathedral from Place Jean de Châtillon. Dedicated to St. Vincent, martyr of the 4th century of Zaragoza (Spain), the Cathedral of St. Malo was enlarged from the 13th to the 18th century and surmounted by a high neo-Gothic spire which was destroyed on August 6, 1944 at the beginning of the fighting for the liberation of the city, in the WW2, in August 1944 (see below). The church is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, and constitutes a national monument of France. It was built in a mix of Roman and Gothic styles during the episcopacy of Jean de Châtillon (1146-1163) on the site of an ancient church founded in the 7th-century. The cathedral suffered damage during WW2 when several bombs fell onto the Sacred Heart Chapel. An organ which had been built in 1893 by Louis Debierre was destroyed. On 21 May 1972, after twenty-eight years of work, a ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of the restoration:
From Place Jean de Châtillon - head south toward Rue Guillaume le Gouverneur, 40 m. Turn left onto Rue Guillaume le Gouverneur, 85 m. Turn right onto Rue Porcon de la Barbinais. The story of Pierre Porcon from La Barbinais - is half-myth/legend, half-reality: In 1665, the Saint-Malo shipowners entrusted the command of a 36-gun frigate to Pierre Porcon de La Barbinais to protect their ships that were sailing in the Mediterranean against attacks by the Algerians. Pierre Porcon was at first happy in the execution of his expeditions. In October 1680, Barbary corsairs seized several French ships without declaration of war. On 18 October 1681, ruler of Algiers Baba Hassan officially declared war on France. The Algerians having assembled a large fleet against Pierre Porcon, and he became the prisoner of the Algierians. At the time of the preparation of an expedition of a squadron of the French monarch Louis XIV against the Algierians to put an end to their acts of piracy, the Algierians charged him to bring to Louis XIV proposals of peace, on the condition that he would come back and take his shoes if the negotiation failed. The life of 600 French prisoners, in the hands of the Algierians, depended on the respect of this last condition. The peace proposals of the Algierians having been judged unacceptable. Pierre Porcon returned to Algiers after going to Saint-Malo to put his affairs in order. The Algierians, unhappy with this refusal of the king cut off his head in 1681. Similarly named roads are in Rennes and Dinan. The Rue Porcon de la Barbinais is the most CULINARY road in Saint-Malo. The most delicious, smelling, colorful and appetizing road in Saint-Malo.
Kouign Amann, 6 rue Porcon de la Barbinais, a takeaway bakery stand which offers a range of savoury and sweet pastries along with fresh bread. Try the Far Breton which is a pastry case filled with a set slightly sour custard filling, sometimes with fruits inside. This bakery stall also offers the other local favourite – apple tarts which are well worth trying:
Head south on Rue Porcon de la Barbinais toward Grand Rue, 10 m. Turn left onto Grand Rue, 50 m. Be sure to take in the view down the Grand Rue towards the Cathedral St Vincent:
Sample Creperie des Lutins at 7 Grand Rue. A small creperie with gallettes, soups, ciders, mussels and other Bretagne takeaway portions:
Head WEST on Grand Rue toward Rue des Marins, 10 m. Turn LEFT (south) onto Rue des Marins, 45 m. Continue onto Rue Boursaint, 25 m. Continue onto Rue de la Herse, 110 m. Turn right onto Rue des Forgeurs, 60 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Fossé, 10 m. Note the house in #4 in Rue de la Fossé (from 1620). Head south on Rue de la Fossé toward Passage du Cap-Horn, 10 m. Turn right onto Rue des Vieux Remparts, 20 m. The houses, along this road, from years 1708-1744:
Slight left to stay on Rue des Vieux Remparts, 35 m. Head west on Rue des Vieux Remparts toward Rue Robert Surcouf, 45 m. Turn LEFT (south) onto Rue de Dinan, 80 m. Continue onto Porte de Dinan and get out, 40 m. from the walled town, out of the walls to the promenade opposite Porte de Dinan. This gate was built in 1714 as part of the second expansion of Saint-Malo. It replaced an old gate called the Poterne de Brevet, which was once the southern entrance/exit from the town.
It was also called the Porte de la Marine (Navy Gate) because the French Navy had its offices on the ground floor of the building to the south of the gate (1 Rue Saint-Philippe). The famous corsair Robert Surcouf (Saint-Malo 1773 - 1827) lived there following his marriage in 1801. The Porte de Dinan leads to the wharf of the same name. It was called this because boats very frequently used to sail down the Rance River from Dinan in order to supply Saint-Malo with fresh provisions. In 1838, it was extended as far as the Saint-Louis and Saint-Philippe bastions. As we said in the "Saint-Malo Day 1" blog - the Saint-Philippe bastion is connected to the Môle des Noires strip of beach. This breakwater is named after the rocks called the Roches Noires which it was built on. Construction of this mole began in 1837, it was extended to a length of 520 metres in 1933, and it was rebuilt after 1944. There are FREE toilets nearby:
We retrace our steps and change our direction (for a few minutes only), heading north. From Porte de Dinan head west on Porte de Dinan toward Rue Saint-Philippe, 40 m. Continue NORTHWARD onto Rue de Dinan. Note the figures hung upstairs on the houses' walls:
After sampling Rue de Dinan - we walk back heading southalong rue de Dinan, toward Rue des Vieux Remparts, 85 m. Climb right onto Rue Saint-Philippe, 130 m. Rue Saint-Philippe turns right and becomes Rue Guy Louvel and Bastion Saint-Philip is on the left. Bastion Saint-Philippe occupies the south-west corner of the town wall and was constructed during the second expansion (1714-1720). Saint-Malo’s ship owners, who made their fortunes from captured ships, seafaring along the Pacific coast of Latin America, and the Saint-Malo East Indies Company, formed a company with 24 shareholders in order to constitute the new fortifactions.
However, the houses’ construction proceeded quite slowly: only 13 houses were built in 1725, along with 15 other houses up until 1770. This neighbourhood was called “La Californie” because it was inhabited by rich, wealthy people such as gold diggers. In 1944 (WW2), most of the fine houses in this neighbourhood caught fire, but the famous row of façades termed “Corsaires” along the ramparts was rebuilt exactly the way it had been before. The building to the WEST of the entrance to the Rue de Dinan, which has a chimney stack decorated with a sundial (1 Rue Saint-Philippe), was the home of the famous Robert Surcouf, the French corsair, from his marriage in 1801 until his death in 1826. The building was also used for administrative offices by the French Navy. You can wonderful views of the western and southern shores of Saint-Malo - through holes in the western walls of the city. One of them is the light-house in the end of Phare Môle des Noires:
Continuing NORTH along the walls of Saint-Malo we arrive to the Statue de Jacques Cartier:
View southward from the western walls - near the Statue de Jacques Cartier:
View northward from the western walls near the Statue de Jacques Cartier. The road downstairs - Rampe des Moulins Colin:
View westward, to the Petit Bé, from the western walls near the Statue de Jacques Cartier:
We can continue walking northward along the walls for 230 m. or we can descend to the town roads (Rue de la Crosse) (via Porte Saint Pierre) - and we arrive to the famous (and permanently crowded) restaurant Creperie le Corps de Garde. This world reputed "dining institute" has several dining areas, some in the old, stone-fenced house, and some on a covered terrace overlooking the bay. The latter is probably for the tourists wanting the overview of the bay while dining, and indeed, the view is magnificent. The interior in this restaurant is not so interesting though, wooden benches and stone slab tables, surely good for wild touristic groups. It is a VERY popular and bustling place - even, in rainy days. If you can select, more precisely, your sitting time here - probably target the Creperie for the sunset hour with clear skies. BUT, make sure to order a table well in advance. Expect a lot of: people, sugar, cream, sauce and creams....:
The restaurant supplies straw hats for the diners sitting under the sun:
This is the famous terrace - where the whole fuss is about:
In case we are, still, on the walls - we descend down and continue walking, into the town, northward, along Rue Sainte-Anne. On our LEFT (north-west) and our right (east) is Rue de la Cloche. Turn RIGHT (east) to Rue de la Cloche and walk eastward (RIGHT) to Place Gasnier Duparc with its unique collection of sculptures. The square is named after Alphonse Henri Gasnier-Duparc, born on June 21 , 1879 and died in Saint-Malo on October 10 , 1945 and was a French politician, Mayor of Saint-Malo and Minister of the Navy:
Head east on Place Gasnier Duparc toward Place Jean de Châtillon, 25 m and turn left onto Place Jean de Châtillon, 30 m. to arrive to Place Jean Moulin and to see, again, Saint-Malo Cathedral. Head south on Place Jean Moulin toward Rue de la Blatrerie, 15 m. Turn left onto Rue de la Blatrerie, 30 m. Turn left onto Place Saint-Aaron, 55 m. On our left - Palais de Justice and on our right - Chapelle Saint-Aaron. Nothing special. We continue north along rue Maclaw. Turn RIGHT (east) to rue de la Victoire. We descend the stairs in Escaier de la Grille. We return to Cour la Houssaye. We continue descending down along the narrow Rue de la Corne de Cerf. At number 2 on rue de la Corne de Cerf, before 1944, a curious wooden house with 16th century painted carvings and stained glass windows was erected, in which the famous pirate Rene Duguay-Trouin was born (Saint-Malo , 1673 - Paris, 1736). His conquest/capture of Rio de Janeiro in Brasil, in 1711, and his memories made him famous. His remains were brought back from Paris to Saint-Malo in 1973 and deposited at the cathedral. On the 5th intersection of Rue de la Corne de Cerf to the left (east) - turn onto Place de la Croix du Fief. The Cross of the Fief once marked one of the limits of the "fief", that is to say the domain under the common seigniory of the bishop and the canons of the chapter of the cathedral. This square is adjacent to the Place de la Poissonnerie. The fish market was designed by the architect Henry Auffret (1954) and the sculptor François Pellerin (Cancale, 1915 - Rennes, 1998). The market hall is adorned at the entrance with a sculpture called L'Orbiche and represents a dogfish, shaped like a small shark. It was restored in 2006. The interior frame, evoking that of a Breton chapel, is also carved in the shape of a fish highlighted by black. Very typical Bretagne sight. We take the most southern end of Place de la Poissonnerie and continue SOUTH along the narrow (and a bit dark) Rue des Merciers. Continue south along rue des Marins. Turn RIGHT (west) to Rue du Puits aux Braies and we ascend to Place du Pilori. The Pilori Square recalls the place where the condemned people were exhibited publicly before being executed. It was also called Place du Martroy by deformation of the Latin name martyretum, meaning torture. The "pillory" consisted of a movable pillar furnished with metal shackles in which the arms and feet of the culprit were engaged, bound by chains. The neck was enclosed with a collar. The guilty man was turned around this pillar to make it visible to all, to allow him to be recognized and to raise complaints or vocal protests against him or her. In Saint-Malo, "to do the pilo" was the expression used to make an appointment to find the soul mate, in this central part of the Saint-Malo town.
Head west on Place du Pilori toward Rue Broussais, 20 m. Continue onto Rue Gouin de Beauchesne, 45 m. The name of the road refers to the Captain from Saint-Malo who rounded Cape Horn in 1700 after an exploratory voyage along the coasts of Chile and Peru. Turn left onto Place aux Herbes, 15 m. Place aux Herbes is a square that was laid out during the reconstruction of the historic town, which began in 1946 after WW2. Its name comes from the old Rue des Herbes. The east side of the square is flanked by an ensemble that was rebuilt according to drawings drafted by Louis Arretche, the architect who headed the reconstruction of Saint-Malo from 1947 onwards. The square’s west side is opened up by another passageway under a building; Rue Vincent de Gournay, where the Auberge de la Malice (Malice Inn) was once located, and featuring buildings at numbers 9, 11 and 13 which were rebuilt after the Anglo-Dutch bombardment in 1695. Head south on Place aux Herbes toward Rue Vincent de Gournay, 30 m. We walk through the small passage (see above) and turn left onto Rue de la Harpe, 35 m. Continue onto Passage Grande Hermine, 25 m. Turn right to stay on Passage Grande Hermine, 20 m. :
Note houses #3 and #5 in Passage Grande Hermine:
Here, we make a short detour to a special shop. Head east on Passage Grande Hermine toward Place du Marché aux Légumes, 15 m. Continue onto Rue de l'Orme, 30 m. to land upon "La maison du Sarrasin", 10 Rue de l'Orme. The whole shop is dedicated to buckwheat. A "temple" for people who are sensitive to Gluten.
We continue walking along (again, narrow and a bit dark) Rue de l'Orme from west until its east end. Turn RIGHT (south) to Rue de la Herse. Turn LEFT (east) to Rue de la Halle aux Blés. Turn RIGHT (south) to Rue des Cordiers. Head south on Rue des Cordiers toward Rue de l'Abbaye Saint-Jean, 10 m. Turn left onto Rue de l'Abbaye Saint-Jean, 30 m. Turn right onto Rue de Chartres, 110 m and turn left onto Porte Saint-Louis, 15 m.: At the moments we had arrived to Porte Saint Louis - Emmanuel Macron had been sworn as the president of France:
130 m. further south and we arrive to the statue of Bertrand-François Mahé de la Bourdonnais.