The walled city of Saint-Malo in the Brittany region of northwestern France is a popular holiday destination known for its thriving port, historic buildings, and sweeping beaches. Although the city walls, or ramparts, were originally built as a defence from the English, today Saint-Malo is a short ferry ride from the UK so many Brits flock to the city on holiday - only this time, they make it past the walls. It's not, however, only English tourists heading to the city; with visitors from all over the world, Saint-Malo is always full of life.
Another fun fact about Saint-Malo: it is said to experience some of the most changeable tides in Europe. This creates weather that provides a dramatic backdrop of clear blue skies one moment, and stormy dark clouds the next. But don't be disheartened by the thought of storms; trust us, the sight of the waves crashing spectacularly against the ramparts makes it all worth it.
What better way to see a walled city than to walk the walls themselves? In Saint-Malo, the ramparts were built at the end of the 17th century and measure 1.8 kilometres long, encircling most of the town. The walls are high enough to offer a bird's eye view of the city: the perfect way to get a feel for Saint-Malo's charm.
To learn a bit more about the city's past, head to the Château de Saint-Malo (Saint-Malo Castle), a striking castle which doubles up as a museum, where you can find out about the city's long maritime history. There are also great views from the Castle, but be warned, there are steps everywhere so give it a miss if this is a problem.
Another great draw of this city is that as the tide goes out, broad stretches of sandy beach appear, allowing a moment of calm with a break from the crashing waves. Low tide also enables you to cross the beach and walk out to Île du Grand Bé (Grand Bé Island), a tidal island which is home to the remains of an old fort. The island is also the location of the grave of 18th-century French writer François-René de Chateaubriand, who was born in Saint-Malo, so be sure to find this when you get there.
Note: If you do decide to walk to the island, be very careful of the tides. Once the tide comes back in, the island becomes isolated for around six hours, so make sure you check the tide times at the tourist information centre to avoid getting trapped!
Other notable sights include the Cathédrale St-Vincent (St-Vincent Cathedral), former prison Fort National, and Mémorial 39–45, a World War II memorial housed in an old German bunker.
Brittany Ferries cross from Portsmouth to Saint-Malo for most of the year; a great way to get from the UK to the city with minimal effort. There are also several airlines that connect the UK and Ireland to to Dinard, Brest, or Rennes which are all close by.
If you're visiting from further afield, flying to the international airports in Nantes or Paris is your best bet as both have trains that will get you to Saint-Malo in around three hours. Alternatively, hire a car to travel from the airport to the city and explore some of surrounding Brittany region during your trip.