Upon our return from Guernsey we stayed on an extra few days in the St. Malo area. Our municipal campsite was the on the Alet peninsula to the south of the old town of St. Malo. With its sheltered marina on the northside and sandy beaches and the imposing Solidor Tower to the south, this now sleepy outcrop, has since Roman times been used for defence and played a significant and strategic role for the German’s in their control of the Channel Islands during WWII. Consequently it saw much fighting and the scars of war are evident around the area and within the fortress that sits atop the peninsula. This now still, tree covered headland with its views to St. Malo and out to sea is a popular spot from which to watch the sunset.
If La Cité d’Alet is a peaceful hamlet, by contrast St. Malo is its noisy neighbour. Once the bolthole of privateers, pirates and explorers, this seafaring town with its tall ramparts now attracts day-trippers and holidaymakers from all over the world. On a summer’s day the beaches are full and the narrow cobbled streets within the ramparts are crammed with tourists. At low tide a steady stream of people make their way across well worn paths to the tidal islands of Grand Bé, the nearby Petite Bé and further north Fort National. A trip to these off shore islands provides a panoramic view of the ramparts of St. Malo and on Grand Bé you can visit the final resting place of the fascinating poet and politician François-René de Chateaubriand who lead a life of travel and adventure in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and here I thought Chateaubriand was just a piece of meat! He asked to be buried where he could hear the wind and the sea and I think they nailed it with this spot.
In the quiet of an evening we walked along the ramparts and ate a supper of fries, from a food truck, sitting on the ground with our backs to the wall of the Château St. Malo, while watching children play at the waters edge and the golden sunset out to sea. We explored the tidal islands and enjoyed street performers as we walked the crowded main thoroughfares of the old city, but one or two streets over we had peace and calm as we explored the less trodden paths through the town. St. Malo is definitely worth a visit there is so much to see and explore and with a little effort you can experience it away from the crowds and madness.