Saint-Malo: Strategically important city on the English Channel

  • There are many cozy oases outside the city walls as well.
    There are many cozy oases outside the city walls as well.
  • Camping de la Cité d'Alet is closest to the city, has a nice view, but little shade.
    Camping de la Cité d'Alet is closest to the city, has a nice view, but little shade.
  • In the fortress complex Cité d'Alet you will find several traces of battles
    In the fortress complex Cité d'Alet you will find several traces of battles
  • The main gate into the "city within the walls".
    The main gate into the "city within the walls".
  • The city wall is solid. Inside, the city pulsates.
    The city wall is solid. Inside, the city pulsates.
  • Within the walls, the streets are narrower and here you will find all kinds of shops and restaurants.
    Within the walls, the streets are narrower and here you will find all kinds of shops and restaurants.
  • There are several lines in the defense against the sea
    There are several lines in the defense against the sea
  • This small fort has guarded the entrance
    This small fort has guarded the entrance
  • There are good opportunities for refreshments or meals.
    There are good opportunities for refreshments or meals.
  • The city wall also opens towards the newer harbor on the outside.
    The city wall also opens towards the newer harbor on the outside.
  • Camping La Ville Huchet offers pools, playgrounds and eateries for young and old.
    Camping La Ville Huchet offers pools, playgrounds and eateries for young and old.
  • The small "castle" sets the mood at Camping La Ville Huchet.
    The small "castle" sets the mood at Camping La Ville Huchet.
  • The memorial hall in the fortress Cité d'Alet.
    The memorial hall in the fortress Cité d'Alet.
  • From the city walls it is steep down to the beaches. Francois René Chataubriand is buried on the island in the middle of the picture. You can walk dry-shod over at low tide.
    From the city walls it is steep down to the beaches. Francois René Chataubriand is buried on the island in the middle of the picture. You can walk dry-shod over at low tide.
  • A museum about the sailors who rounded Cape Horn and a great vantage point over the bay.
    A museum about the sailors who rounded Cape Horn and a great vantage point over the bay.
Share this page:
There are many cozy oases outside the city walls as well.
Camping de la Cité d'Alet is closest to the city, has a nice view, but little shade.
In the fortress complex Cité d'Alet you will find several traces of battles
The main gate into the "city within the walls".
The city wall is solid. Inside, the city pulsates.
Within the walls, the streets are narrower and here you will find all kinds of shops and restaurants.
There are several lines in the defense against the sea
This small fort has guarded the entrance
There are good opportunities for refreshments or meals.
The city wall also opens towards the newer harbor on the outside.
Camping La Ville Huchet offers pools, playgrounds and eateries for young and old.
The small "castle" sets the mood at Camping La Ville Huchet.
The memorial hall in the fortress Cité d'Alet.
From the city walls it is steep down to the beaches. Francois René Chataubriand is buried on the island in the middle of the picture. You can walk dry-shod over at low tide.
A museum about the sailors who rounded Cape Horn and a great vantage point over the bay.
Text and photo: Knut Randem
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 2 March 2020

Saint-Malo: Strategically important city on the English Channel

The desire for independence has always been great in Saint-Malo, and the people there have a reputation for being unruly for over 1000 years. In the 1500th century, even the city declared itself a republic. Today, the "city within the walls" is a magnet.

It started with a monastery on an island around the year 1000. The town was later named after a monk, who became the saint, St. Malo. The city has always been of strategic importance and solid fortress walls were built around it early on. Throughout history, there has often been conflict between England and France. At that time, the inhabitants benefited greatly from seizing passing ships. They did so with the king's blessing. At the same time, they have been unruly and in the 1500th century, the city declared itself a republic.

From island to headland

Throughout history, the island has become landlocked. First with a road on a landfill. Later with filling of the area towards land. Today, Saint-Malo is located at the far end of a headland.

The city has est out and grown with several suburbs, but it is the city within the walls tourists come to see. Almost 50 people live there. In the summer, this number quadruples. During World War II, the city was subjected to massive bombing. Today, the large granite buildings have been restored and only a few buildings occasionally need to be rebuilt. Feel free to spend a day inside the walls. Eat at small nice restaurants, walk on the walls and scout for ships, shop in small shops, stop by a gallery, grab a crepe (thin pancake) or just soak up the atmosphere. Saint-Vincent Cathedral in the city center is a national monument. Despite major destruction during the bombing in 000, it today appears authentic in a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic building style.

Large tide differences

The area around Saint-Malo is located on sand and mud banks. Around the old town and further east there are long and wide sandy beaches. When you stand on the city walls, you can look down on the city beaches that are just below the walls. Here you can also see several islands where it is possible to walk dry-shod at low tide. Just remember to react when the high tide signal goes. If you do not get in then, you have to wait until the next low tide to get back to land. On one of these islands you will find the burial ground of the author and politician Francois René Chataubriand (1768-1848), who was from Saint-Malo. In many places you can walk several kilometers at low tide. Then you can pick oysters if it should tempt. But do not challenge fate. The tidal currents here can be almost as strong as in Saltstraumen in Nordland.

Near town camping

Camping de la Cité d'Alet is located under the fortress of the same name about two kilometers outside the old town and the city walls. This is a municipal summer campsite. It is open from 1 July to the end of September and on certain special occasions otherwise. The standard is decent and you have a shower, toilet and electricity available. However, you will find very little shade in this space. This is the closest you get to the old town and you can easily walk into the "city within the walls", as it is called locally. This campsite is located on a peninsula below the fort of the same name and you thus live on historical grounds. The fort has a history that stretches from Roman times to World War II. Here are clear traces of combat actions. A memorial to the victims of World War II is integrated into the fortifications.

Family-friendly "castle camping"

If you are staying at Camping de la Cité d'Alet, the shortest way to walk to the old town is through this fortress and over the beautiful beach below. There are fine sandy beaches on both sides of this peninsula. In this area there is also a port for ferries to Plymouth and Portsmouth should you be tempted to take a trip across the canal. We chose to stay at Camping La Ville Huchet, a four star campsite about 6,5 kilometers from the old town. You can cycle or walk to the city on relatively safe roads in fairly flat terrain. If you take the detour through the fort Cité d'Alet, the trip will be around 8 kilometers, but well worth the small detour.

child-Friendly

La Ville Huchet is very child friendly with pools and slides as the main attraction. For the adults there is also a covered pool to retreat to. A small "castle" is located in the middle of the campsite and gives a little French atmosphere. The pitches for caravans, tents and motorhomes are located along small roads around this. The campsite also has mobile houses for rent. La Ville Huchet also offers sports facilities, shops and restaurants. This is also a summer campsite, but it opens on April 1 and closes at the end of September.

The road to and from

Just an hour's drive east of Saint-Malo is the abbey island of Mount-Saint-Michel. If you are going to Saint-Malo, a trip to this attraction is recommended, which could have been worth a separate article. Here there are large parking spaces - also one you can spend the night on - and you are driven by bus over a pier to the "monastery town" which clings to a small mountain. Saint-Malo is also a good starting point for a trip further south to Nantes and along the Atlantic coast. Maybe to La Rochelle or all the way down to Bordeaux? Saint-Malo is a four-hour drive west of Paris.

Get news straight to your home

The articles from NBCC will only be available digitally for a while after the member magazine is distributed. The membership magazine and a number of other benefits can easily be secured by joining Norway's largest and oldest interest organization for you by caravan or caravan.
Join the Norwegian Motorhome and Caravan Club too!

  • Add your holiday to Norway!
    The campsites can be found here:
  • Add your holiday to Norway!
    The campsites can be found here: