Last Updated on 28th December 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
If there’s one city which you should make sure to visit in Brittany, known as Bretagne in French, then you should make it Saint-Malo. Straight out of a storybook, the walled town is surrounded by the sea on three sides and is home to oodles of fantastic foodie experiences. The Brittany town also happens to be one of the best places to stay for exploring the local area. Here’s your guide to the best day trips from Saint-Malo!
The walled city of Dinan is often said to be one of the most beautiful towns in France, and once there, it’s not hard to see why. Home to a historic harbour, cobbled streets, and plenty of bars and eateries serving traditional Breton fare, there’s a lot to love when it comes to this beautiful little town.
As well as meandering among the many timber-framed buildings which are so synonymous with this part of France, some of the best things to do in Dinan include strolling along the well-preserved ramparts, eating freshly caught seafood (or a roasted camembert) along the harbour, and shopping for local souvenirs in the many independent boutiques dotted across town.
If you don’t have your own car, then it’s easy enough to get from Saint-Malo to Dinan. You simply need to hop on the no. 70 bus, which takes you from town to town. The fare is €2 each way and the ride takes approximately half an hour each way. Once in Dinan, I highly recommend heading to the tourist office, where you can pick up a self-guided plan of the medieval walled city.
Charming and picturesque, Cancale is a little off the beaten track, but is well worth visiting nonetheless. Home to around five thousand residents, who are known locally as ‘Cancalais,’ the town is best-known for its local market (which is sprawling and takes place on a weekly place every Sunday) and many seafood restaurants.
If you make it your mission to eat out just once while in Brittany, make it during your visit to Cancale. Other highlights of the town include the many nearby coastal walks, the picturesque harbour, and the Pointe du Grouin (the most Westerly point on the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel).
Much like going to Dinan from Saint-Malo without a car, the easiest way to reach Cancale is via bus. The bus to Cancale departs from the Saint-Malo train station (which is around a twenty minute from the walled city section of the town) and the journey each way takes around half an hour.
Gothic and imposing, one of the must-see destinations on every traveller to France’s bucket list is that of Mont Saint-Michel, an abbey which has stood for centuries atop of a tidal island. Located in Normandy, the abbey and its surrounding village are best-seen when the tide is high and the skies are clear, leading to the buildings cutting a striking scene on the Normandy landscape.
While on the island, there are plenty of things to do. As well as visiting the abbey (which is free for EU citizens and residents under the age of 26), there are a number of hidden gems, and little lanes to snap photos of.
What’s more is that it couldn’t be easier to go from Saint-Malo to Mont Saint-Michel. There is a daily bus which goes to Mont Saint-Michel in the morning and returns in the mid-afternoon (I personally think that 6-7 hours to enjoy the tidal island is more than sufficient). Prices are a fixed €25 (find more details here). When visiting Mont St Michel, my top tip would be to bring your own lunch with you- pretty much all of the eateries on the island are over-priced and are somewhat of a tourist trap.
Located just across the water from Saint-Malo, one of the easiest day trips from Saint-Malo is that of Dinard. A quintessentially Breton town boasting the likes of chic hotels and casinos, the town has long drawn numerous famous visitors.
In order to reach Dinard from Saint-Malo, you need only hop on a ferry, which takes ten minutes and runs regularly throughout the day. Once in Dinard, some of the best things to do include visiting the various beaches the town has to offer and eating local cuisine. Find more details about the ferry between the two towns here.
Yet another easy day trip you can take from Saint-Malo is to the nearby town of Saint-Servan. So close is this Brittany town that you can simply walk from the walled town to the nearby French settlement within a matter of around half an hour.
Though much less touristic and popular than its famous neighbour, Saint-Servan nonetheless offers up several points of interest which are sure to entice even the most discerning of visitors. What’s more is that the town has few tourists compared to nearby popular attractions and so you’ll likely have much of the place to yourself during your visit.
As well as boasting some pretty beautiful views onto La Manche (the English Channel) and of Saint-Malo, some of the best things to do in Saint-Servan include admiring the historic Tower of Solidor and shopping in one of the independent stores in town.