Tuesday, 16th May and Wednesday 17th May
We arrived at Hotel Oceania soon after 21:30 after a Ferry ride from St. Helier. Bed was certainly a good place especially for those who had succumbed to the cold that was being passed around. The Hotel is just outside the wall of the old town. The mast-filled port town has a dramatically changing landscape with one of the world’s greatest tidal ranges. As the tide recedes broad beaches and land bridges to granite outcrop islands are exposed. Construction of the city’s fortifications began in the 12th century. The town became a key port during the 17th and 18th centuries as a base for both merchant ships and government-sanctioned privateers (pirates, basically) against the constant threat of the English.
We met after a most enjoyable breakfast and walked around the walls of the town. It was showery in part so umbrellas were a necessity. The busy Ferry Port, considered by many to be the most attractive channel port in France, gives an authentic glimpse into Brittany’s important seafaring past. As part of our Tour we travelled on the little tourist train around the streets on the hillside. This gave us more information and enabled us to better choose the area we would later return to explore on foot. Walking the cobbled streets of the old town feels like taking a step back in time.
In World War II, during the fighting in late August and early September 1944, the historic walled city was almost totally destroyed by American shelling and bombing as well as British naval gunfire. St. Malo was rebuilt over a 12-year period from 1948-1960.