Sep 12, 2017 - National Geographic Orion
The morning walking tour along the ramparts of the walled city of St Malo began at Porte Dinan, close to our berth. We then moved on the main gateway of the town where the town’s flag flies above the black and white striped Gwenn ar Du of Brittany, the familiar red, white and blue tricolour of France, and the gold stars on blue of the European Union. Such is the historic independence of St Malo that it obtained this unique privilege in bygone times, the only place in France where it is permitted to fly the town flag above the national tricolour.
The inhabitants of St Malo were a seafaring people with global reach, more Malouins than either Breton or French, their fisherman giving their name in French to the Falkland Islands where they established an early settlement, Les Malouines. This name crossed over into Spanish as Las Malvinas. At the other end of the Atlantic, it was a local boy, Jacques Cartier, who first sailed from St Malo to the mouth of the St Lawrence in Canada in the sixteenth century. Buried in the town’s cathedral, he is commemorated by a fine statue looking out to sea from the town’s ramparts which were lovingly restored following the destruction of the old city in the closing months of the Second World War, a symbolic act that typified the characteristic pride of the Malouins in their town. Our walking tour included a visit to the cathedral, lovingly reconstructed in the post-war years and, en route to the Jacques Cartier statue, a pause for refreshment at a splendid crêperie.
Another morning option was a coastal hike in the neighbouring resort of Dinard, with romantic coastal views and splendid fin-de-siècle villas. In the afternoon a visit to Cancale was offered, a village famous throughout France for its oyster production. The tidal range along this coast is second only to that of the Bay of Fundi and the harvest of local ‘fruits de mer’ employs specially designed vehicles. At evening Recap we all had a chance to sample oysters and local Muscadet.