All the light we can't seeIn the footsteps of Marie-Laure ...
Vue Sur Saint Malo Intra Muros Depuis Le Mole Des Noires Saint Malo Loic Lagarde 663 1200pxVue Sur Saint Malo Intra Muros Depuis Le Mole Des Noires Saint Malo Loic Lagarde 663 1200px
©Vue Sur Saint Malo Intra Muros Depuis Le Mole Des Noires Saint Malo Loic Lagarde 663 1200px|©Loïc Lagarde

In the footsteps of Marie-Laure…

Let’s follow in the footsteps of heroine Marie-Laure in the novel “All the Light We Cannot See” written by American Anthony Doerr. A true publishing phenomenon in the United States (Pulitzer Prize 2015), hailed by the press as the best novel of the year!

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August 1944: Saint Malo at the time of the Second World War, the last German stronghold on the Breton coast before the arrival of the Allies. In the corsair town, we meet Marie-Laure, who left Paris during the exodus to take refuge with her great-uncle, and Werner, a member of the Wehrmacht, an orphan and a genius in electromagnetic transmissions, the only survivor of his regiment. Two destinies, two different lives, yet they are about to meet.

Good to know!

In the footsteps of Marie-Laure, a tour adapted from Anthony Doerr’s novel “All the Light We Cannot See”, published in 2014. In November 2023, the series adaptation will be released on Netflix.


At her great-uncle’s, 4 rue Vauborel

4 rue Vauborel (page 23): “Le 4: her great-uncle Etienne’s dilapidated dovecote. Where she has lived for four years. Where she finds herself kneeling on the fifth floor, alone, while a squadron of American bombers hurtles in her direction.”
Les Boches (page 177): “[…] The first floor is Madame Manec’s domain: clean, navigable, always teeming with visitors who come to gossip in the kitchen […] Eleven spiral steps lead up to the second floor, which evokes past grandeur […] On the second floor, even more clutter: cardboard boxes full of jars, metal discs, rusty saws; […] On the third, there are piles everywhere, in rooms, corridors and on the staircase […] Etienne’s huge office colonizes the entire fourth floor, alternately profoundly quiet or full of voices, music, crackling.”


Plage du Môle

Marie-Laure’s first outing since arriving in Intra-Muros.
Marie-Laure sets off with Mme Manec to discover Plage du Môle.
Tours (page 285): “22 steps to the intersection with Rue d’Estrées. Another 40 to the wicket gate. 9 steps down and she’s on the sand, and the 20,000 sounds of the ocean engulf her.”


Path to the bakery – rue Robert Surcouf

The wardrobe (page 377): “22 steps down rue Vauborel to rue d’Estrées. Then right, and I count 16 manholes. Left into rue Robert-Surcouf. Another 9 manholes to the boulangerie.”


Path to the cave – kennel for the Watch dogs

May (page 467): “At the junction with rue d’Estrées, she turns not left, towards the house, but right. 50 meters to the ramparts, another hundred along the walls.”


La Grotte

Grotte (page 309): “He takes them down what appears to be the rue du Boyer, but could be the rue Vincent-de-Gournay or the rue des Hautes Salles. They arrive at the foot of the ramparts and turn right, following a path Marie-Laure had never taken before. They went down two steps, passing under a curtain of ivy […] The alley became narrower and narrower, to the point where they had to walk in single file between the narrow walls. […] As far as she knows, it’s a low-ceilinged cave, about four meters long and two wide, shaped like a loaf of bread. […]”


Bastion de la Hollande

The girl (page 15): “[…] Here’s the esplanade at the top of the walls where four couleuvrines are pointed skyward. “Bastion de la Hollande,” she murmurs and her fingers descend a few steps. “Rue des Cordiers. Rue Jacques-Cartier.” […] Her fingers return to the cathedral spire. Towards the Porte de Dinan.”

Visitor (page 518): “[…] Where are you going Corporal? To the fort of the Cité d’Alet. We’re evacuating. We’re still holding the château and the Bastion de la Hollande, but as for the rest, everyone must withdraw.”


îlot du Grand Bé

The tours (page 285): “[…] His greatest pleasure is to walk to the end of the beach at low tide, squat at the foot of an islet called the Grand Bé, and let his fingers lapping in the pools.”


Hôtel des Abeilles, rue de la Crosse

Werner, later arriving in Intra-Muros and staying at the Hôtel des Abeilles (a hotel invented by the author).
The boy (page 17): “Not so long ago, the Hôtel des Abeilles was a dapper establishment with bright blue shutters, and a brasserie section where you could enjoy oysters served on crushed ice. [… ] There were 21 rooms, with sea views, and in the lounge a gigantic fireplace.”


Saint-Vincent Cathedral

Attic (page 436): “During the four years Marie-Laure spent in Saint-Malo, the bells of Saint-Vincent Cathedral marked the hours. Now they no longer ring.”


place Chateaubriand

Saint-Malo (page 585): “[…] The next morning, they sit at place Chateaubriand, where sturdy benches face flowerbeds.”


Fort National

Place of imprisonment for Resistance fighters.
Figures (page 497): “[…]Everyone’s papers will be checked and any man of fighting age who might take part in the Resistance will be interned at Fort National.”



27 rue de Chartres

Required drop-off (page 206): “Residents must drop off all wireless receivers in their possession. The sets must be delivered to 27 rue de Chartres by noon tomorrow. Anyone failing to comply with this order will be arrested as a saboteur.”


La Cité d’Alet

Saint-Malo (page 20): “[…] But not here. Not this last citadel at the end of the continent, this ultimate German “strong point” on the Breton coast. […] Beneath the Cité d’Alet fort that rises on its rocky point, higher up on the Rance, facing the old city, there’s a dressing room, ammunition bunkers, and even a hospital, or so they say.”

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