History of Saint-Malo

The city of Saint-Malo in Ille-et-Vilaine (Brittany) has a unique history. It has been through the ages by constantly renewing itself.

The name “Saint-Malo” is explained by a Welsh monk named Maclow who first called the town Maclou; then transformed into Malo, then Saint-Malo. This historic city is also called “The corsair city”, due to its many corsairs that were fighting the enemy ships of the King. At that time, these corsairs, unlike pirates, were servants of the King to attack foreign fleets.

At the end of World War II, the city of Saint-Malo was set on fire and 80% destroyed. Inside the ramparts, more than 680 buildings were destroyed, the Saint-Vincent cathedral was in ruins and had countless damage … The reconstruction of the Intra Muros began on January 26, 1947. It was at the beginning of the 1970s that Saint-Vincent Cathedral was completely rebuilt after 21 years of work.

The great men of Saint-Malo

At the time, Saint-Malo was an island, but also a dynamic privateer port which was also the site of masterful maritime stories.

Indeed, Saint-Malo has known many sailors and explorers. Some went on an adventure in search of unknown continents, such as Jacques Cartier who discovered Canada, when others left at the request of the king to plunder enemy ships, such as Duguay-Trouin, admiral of the royal navy and Robert Surcouf, the king of the corsairs.

Saint-Malo increased its fortune and developed thanks to the discovery of the Americas, but also thanks to trade with the East Indies. While some pride themselves on their exploits at sea, others distinguish themselves in various fields. Notably in Science, like Moreau de Maupertuis or in literature and politics like François-René de Chateaubriand.

The evolution of Saint-Malo

Saint-Malo has gradually become a very popular city for its geographical location by the sea, the charm of the privateer city and it’s unique architecture. It is recognized for it’s major tides, the highest in Europe, waves that can reach 13 meters!

The city has taken advantage of its qualities and characteristics to become an emblematic city of Brittany. Very close to Mont Saint-Michel, Chausey and Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, it is the port of arrival for exploring Ille-et-Vilaine and the Brittany region. Saint-Malo lives a lot from its port with its ferry lines serving England.

The corsair city, renowned as a pleasant and welcoming seaside resort, thrives on passing tourists throughout the year. To increase its attractiveness and accommodate more people, a new TGV (high speed train) station was built. The latter offers many connections, including a train route 2 hours from Paris. Saint-Malo is the second French city equipped with a thalassotherapy center, called Les Thermes Marins.

Saint-Malo today

If we observe it’s evolution over the centuries, the city has changed a lot. It continues to evolve over the years, in order to attract tourists from all over the world who come to discover the emblematic places of the corsair city.

Today Saint-Malo has more than 47,670 inhabitants (INSEE 2017 figure). This figure continues to increase, in view of many real estate projects. The city is growing and businesses are developing thanks to the economic fabric of its agglomeration (18 municipalities) which is becoming substantial. Dominant sectors being tourism of course, but also well-being, health, marine resources, digital technology, plastics, the primary sector (agriculture and fishing), water sports and the food industry.