It was about 3 hours from Nantes to St. Malo on the rail. Since we had flown from Nice to Nantes one day prior, we had missed out on the views from the train moving from the south of France up to the northwest. This three hour train ride passed through agricultural lands, fields, and some forests.
The TGV dead ends in St. Malo. When we arrived, we took a taxi from the train station to the Intra Muros – the old city center, within the ramparts. We easily found our lodging along rue Saint Vincent, at Hotel Cartier. Shaun was attending a conference for work in St. Malo so most of this part of the trip could be expensed. We checked in and found our room to be quite spacious, with a double bed as well as an extra twin.
St. Malo, along English Channel on the Brittany Coast, is a small walled city with a strong focus on fishing and farming. The history dates back 1500 years, but actually, nearly all of St. Malo was destroyed during WWII. The city has been rebuilt since then, and has become a popular vacation destination for people from England. There are also several other island forts surrounding the area, which can be seen at the several look out points around the ramparts.
After we checked into our hotel, we headed to the beach on the north side of the city to take some pictures. It happened to be low tide, so we were able to walk across the dunes to take a closer look at Fort National.
From Fort National, we were able to get some really great views of St. Malo and it’s walls. The overcast skies, windy weather, and scattered showers were definitely reminiscent of Pacific Northwest beach weather.
We followed up with some tasty oysters and some crisp white wine at La Licorne (the unicorn), on Place Chateaubriand right inside the ramparts. Perfection.
We met up with one of our coworkers and walked around the city a little more. We finished up the Monday night with dinner and dessert at a restaurant on rue Jacques Cartier.
The next day, Shaun started his conference. I spent my day shopping at several of the local shoppes: PimKie, Promod, and Cache Cache. This was perfect timing, since I didn’t have to drag Shaun along with me, and I had all the time in the world to browse the stores. One interesting thing about shopping in France is that the service is much more formal. A few key phrases we picked up were to always say “Bonjour!” when entering a store, “Au Revoir” when exiting, and “je ne parle pas bien francais” to say “I don’t speak French very well”. Also, say “je peux?” for “can I?” before picking up anything, and “je regarde, merci” means “window shopping”.
I ate lunch at a creperie called “Le Corps de Garde”, which is the only restaurant in St. Malo with a view of the ocean. Perched next to the ramparts, I enjoyed a Duchesse Anne biere and had a very tasty lunch. But this place will always remind me of my clumsiness – I dropped my bag and found out later that day that I had shattered a filter on the lens of Shaun’s film camera. :( At least it wasn’t the lens!!
I finished up the afternoon with a Breton pastry, kouign amann, topped with nutella. So rich… definitely needed a glass of milk to go with that.
After Shaun’s conference was over for the day, they hosted a cocktail hour. I joined him and his coworkers for the networking and social hour. Afterwards, we ate a huge dinner with some of Shaun’s coworkers and colleagues at Café de Louest. I tried my first taste of sweetbread – google it if you don’t know what it is…
The next day, Wednesday (Day 2 of Shaun’s conference), I took a day trip to visit Mont St. Michel (check out that post here).
When I returned back to St. Malo, I freshened up and headed out with Shaun and his coworkers to the Gala Dinner, hosted by the conference. The night was long, from 6pm to 11pm, and filled with music, performances, and of course, wine and various courses of food.
The next day was the last day of the conference. I shopped around town some more, walked the ramparts, and took some more pictures. This day was much more dreary, with showers throughout the day.
I waited around the rest of the day until Shaun and his 2 coworkers were done with the conference. We headed to the train station, where we headed back to Paris for the last 2 nights of our trip.
Check out our 3 Weeks in France page for a full summary of our trip!