Coastal Walk & Saint Malo

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
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137
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Trip End Aug 02, 2013


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Flag of France  , Brittany,
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Our campsite backed on to the GR34, a 2000 km walking trail that went all along the coast of Brittany. Today, we were only planning on tackling what we could in about an hour and a half so that we could get back to camp, shower, and then head out to St Malo. We set out from camp and started walking along the trail towards Cancale. It was a fairly narrow trail that hugged the coast the whole way along, offering lovely views. It was cloudy and cool out, true to Brittany weather, but at least it wasn't raining. Along the way, we passed by two WWII bunkers that once would have formed part of the Atlantic wall and one of them had a surprisingly intact gun mounted in it. When we got just past the bay of Port-Mer, we decided to turn around and head back to camp. After showers and packing up our van, we drove out to St-Malo. We had been anticipating our visit to St-Malo for quite a few days now because we were looking forward to some delicious (and generous helpings of) gelato at Sanchez, a local establishment. We had indulged in two scoops of ice cream back in 2008 (which were really four scoops) and had said that if we were back in St-Malo, we’d be sure to visit again.

We parked a little ways outside the old town ramparts and walked in along the waterfront boulevard. The beach area closest to the boulevard is lined with tree trunks driven into the sand. These form part of St-Malo’s breakwater against winter storms. We were still waiting for the sun to come out but it hadn’t made an appearance yet. We walked into town on the hunt for a lunch menu but it turned out that most of the recommended restaurants were closed for a post-Easter holiday (which we were later to learn was Ascension). There were a couple menus that looked "ok" (yes, we’ve become quite picky when it comes to finding a restaurant we want to dine at), but we decided not to go since we didn’t want to eat out when we weren’t actually excited about the menu. We wandered through the old streets of St-Malo a bit longer and when we saw that our gelato place was closed for the day, we were very disappointed. The only consolation was that the temperature didn’t call for a gelato. The streets of St-Malo are fairly narrow with tall buildings lining both sides. The buildings tend to look old but are mostly post 1945 since 80% of the town was levelled during WWII.

Disheartened by our lack of gelato and/or lunch menu, we grabbed a bench at the base of the ramparts and settled for some baguette and boursin instead. We then walked back towards the main church, stopping along the way for take-out crêpes topped with caramel beurre salée (a caramel sauce made with salted butter). The salted caramel topping must be a regional specialty because you can find it everywhere you go in Brittany and in many forms – on pastries, crêpes, candies and even as an ice cream flavour. If you want to get a similar taste of it back in Canada, get the salted caramel chocolates from Purdy’s. The crêpes were made to order and were so delicious that they only lasted a few minutes. We then poked our heads into the church which we weren’t expecting too much from but it actually had some amazing stained glass windows. The ramparts were our next stop and as we climbed up, we felt the full force of the wind. We walked counter-clockwise around the ramparts, stopping to read a couple of the info panels and take photos of the bay and its island fort. St-Malo is a cute town in a picturesque setting and you can understand why they would get over 12,000 tourists a day in the summer months! We walked about halfway around the ramparts, at which point we decided that we needed a hot cup of tea and so we headed back to the van and drove on to our campsite in nearby Matignon.
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