Semper fidelis

The Corsair City

The bastion of the Emerald Coast

Saint-Malo stretches from the mouth of the river Rance to Le Havre du Lupine. Since 1967, when Saint-Servan, Paramé and Saint-Malo merged to form the Greater Saint-Malo area, the city has grown and is today home to nearly 50,000 inhabitants.

A rock in the middle of the water

Very popular with visitors, the old town was home to only a simple hermit called Aaron, whose chapel can be seen at the highest point of the rock.

Mac Low

Mac Low was an evangelical Welsh monk, who brought Christianity to the Armorican coast in the sixth century, later being canonised as Saint-Malow. He landed at the rock of Alet, facing the rock of Aaron and defended it against invasions with the earliest fortifications of the town, which in time developed to become the city walls of today. This maritime city has always been fiercely independent, and its motto is Neither Breton nor French, Malouin I am! .

Developments of the City over time

Tired of having to rebuild his church, Jean de Chatillon transferred the episcopal seat of Alet to the rock of Aaron in August 1152. This became an island at high tide since after terrible, legendary, tidal flood of March 709.

The rock became an asylum for poor fishermen, then a favourite of wealthier families, bourgeois merchants and noblemen, becoming the bastion of the "gentlemen of Saint-Malo", so named because their fabulous wealth allowed them to lend money to the King of France. Their homes, many of which are classified as Historical Monuments, are still visible in the old town and in the surrounding countryside. These buildings are known as malouinières.

At the instigation of Blessed Jean de la Grille, the magnificent cathedral of Saint-Vincent was built, and the city became a hub of European maritime trade. It's power was such that the people of Saint-Malo proclaimed themselves Republic, the equal of Venice, and declared their independence from the French crown in 1590. Independence only lasted four years, but the period gave birth to the unofficial motto "neither French nor Breton, Malouin I am!"

Development - Sailing - Resort

The parish of Saint-Servan was home to many rope and sail factories alongside the burgeoning shipping trade. Neighbouring Paramé saw the building of country houses or for the rich merchants, and served as a resort and retreat.

In 1689, the King ordered Sebastien Vauban, the royal architect, to build new fortifications around the city. The forts of La Conchée, Petit Bé and Le National all contributed to making Saint-Malo impregnable to enemy ships.

In 1708, the old city began to suffocate behind its medieval walls and made the first of three major expansions it has known over time. One of the new districts bears the evocative name of "California". It houses some of the most beautiful mansions of the 18th century.



A city of illustrious men and women

Saint-Malo, city of Art and History, synonymous with dreams of adventure and travel, was home to many great French personalities in history. Chateaubriand the Romantic whose tomb faces the open sea and can be visited at low tide, the corsairs Robert Surcouf and René Duguay-Trouin, Jacques Cartier the Canadian adventurer are among them. Although the city suffered terribly during the allied liberation in August 1944, which destroyed 80% of the buildings, it was able to rise from the ashes and keep its authentic aspect under the guiding hand of architect Louis Arretche and the mayor Guy La Chambre, who insisted on an authentic historical reconstruction of the city, rather than the concrete and steel 'modernisation' that many other northern French towns suffered after the war.


Saint-Malo stands guard over the biggest tides in Europe, and all the major cultural and maritime events they carry in. the Tall Ships' Race, Etonnants Voyageurs, Route du Rhum, Quai des Bulles, Quebec - Saint-Malo transatlantic, Folklores of the World and the Rock Route. The arrival of the fast TGV train, putting the city just 2 hours and 17 minutes from the capital makes Saint-Malo a well-connected third millennium city.

3,658 hectares - 45,130 inhabitants - Locals known as Malouins & Malouines - Servannais & Servannaises - Parameans & Paraméennes