A tour of the ramparts is the most essential walk you'll make in Saint-Malo! With magnificent views of the sea and the city just below, you should count a good hour to make the complete tour.
The high wall that surrounds the city of Saint-Malo forms a complete loop two kilometres long. It is possible to leave and rejoin the loop at several different places, with staircases at each door.
Local people like to begin the walk at the Porte Saint-Vincent, near the marina. Passing under this door, you'll find a staircase on the right, which takes you to the top of the ramparts. Here you'll enjoy the most breathtaking view of the port of Saint-Malo.
The first part of the walkway leads to the bastion of Saint-Louis, from where you'll join the south curtain wall. From here, you can admire the homes of wealthy shipowners and houses that once belonged to the corsairs, recognisable by their high granite facades. On the way, pass by the house of Robert Surcouf, nicknamed the King of Corsairs.
Fort National, Grand Bé and Petit Bé
From the St. Philip Bastion, you'll begin to see the sea and feel the wind lift your hair! You'll be captivated by the beauty of the Emerald Coast and the view over the bay of Saint-Malo.
The ramparts overhang the beach of the Plage du Môle here, as well as the Bon Secours beach. The children of the Corsair City often come to play here just after school. Next on the route is the Bidouane tower. Twenty three metres high, it overlooks the whole city of Saint-Malo.
This is undoubtedly the best view of the islands of Grand Bé and Petit Bé. The Grand Bé houses the tomb of Châteaubriand, and the Petit Bé is distinguished by its 17th century fort. From the north curtain wall, you can't miss the Fort National, accessible, like the neighbouring islands, only at low tide.
The Fort du Petit Bé and the former Fort Royal (Fort National) are part of a defensive belt designed by the royal architect Sebastien Vauban under the reign of Louis XIV, to protect Saint-Malo from English and Dutch ships.
Once upon a time, a Corsair City...
The ramparts of Saint-Malo were born as early as the 12th century, well before the golden age of the King's corsairs. After the great fire of 1661, the granite wall was completely rebuilt. It was enlarged in the 18th century by Garangeau, the engineer-architect and disciple of Sebastien Vauban, Louix XIV's royal architect.
The fortifications of Saint-Malo today include eight gates, three posterns and three bastions. The ramparts, lined with crenellations and flanked by several towers, are classified historical monuments.
The Chateau de Saint-Malo, although it has a medieval look, was built between the 15th and 18th centuries. Why not finish the circuit of the ramparts by visiting the building? It houses the Town Hall and the Museum of History of Saint-Malo in the Grand Tower, and the Museum of Ethnography Saint-Malo country in the General Tower. Or maybe you'd rather climb down and have a hearty Breton crêpe in the city — tempted?!