Saturday, 15 November 2014

Back to Brittany...Saint-Malo

Our second coastal visit while up in Brittany recently was to the fortified port of Saint-Malo. Which has expanded well out of the original citadel  to become a modern town. They offer a free and very efficient 'park and ride' system which takes you down to the actual port where the ship above greets you to confirm your nautical location. 

You enter the town via the the 'Grand Porte',the oldest (15th century) of the citadel, which is made up of two impressive towers and an artillery platform. It is quite a formidable sight and one that  would have greeted the Saint Malo ship owners returning from from trading trips to the South Seas,  Arabia and China as this is where the original quay was located.

The citadel was originally built on a rocky island at the mouth of the Rance estuary. This strategic position allowed control of the sea and the access further into the interior of Brittany. Today it is considered by many to be one the most attractive channel ports in France. 

Once you get behind the ramparts there is somewhat of a surprise as the buildings start to reach upwards using there footprint to the maximum.

Tall granite mansion blocks line the characterful cobbled streets and squares within the surrounding ramparts. Here you will find a plethora of restaurants bars and shops. As we walked around there was a somewhat familiarity to the place - at times we felt as if we could have been back in Edinburgh.

Surprisingly, although the buildings give the impression of being from a different era they are almost all the result of a staggering reconstruction project after the effects of WWII. Taking many years, the project was only officially completed in the early 1970's returning the town to its former glory.

It is possible to walk almost the complete circuit of the walls which can be accessed via gates at various locations around the ramparts.

The views can be quite stunning.  

Looking back on our way out via the modern harbour that links the citadel to the mainland we got the feeling that we would be back one day.

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