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06 November 2015 @ 08:48 pm
The castle and forts of Saint-Malo  
Imagine a walled city surrounded by the sea. At low tide, beaches and rocks at the feet of the ramparts. At high tide, islands and waves, sometimes spectacular.
A medieval castle between the harbour, the main beach and the town, and two 17th century forts built by Vauban to improve the defence of the city.
The place was home of many navigators (Jacques Cartier), privateers (René Duguay-Trouin, Robert Surcouf...) and shipowners, but also of François René de Chateaubriand, whose native house was set on the rampart.

In 1693, before the forts were erected and while France was at war with England, English army organized a raid against Saint-Malo and tried to destroy it with an "Infernal Machine", a boat ful of bombs, gunpowder, pitch and grapeshots, that was supposed to explode under the walls during the night. But the boat ran aground on a rock, and exploded too far from the town. On french side, only windows and a house were blown away, and a single victim was made. A cat.

In 1944, Saint-Malo was not so lucky, and 80% destroyed by american fire bombs. A few buildings and the church were rebuilt as they were before, and an "ancient-like" style was used for the rest, but most of the wonderful wood and stone old houses are gone forever. Anyway, it's still a lovely place, one of my favourites on Earth. And you're not watching this post for the houses, but for the castle and forts ;-)

The castle

The ramparts

The National Fort (which you already saw on the first picture, from the keep of the castle)

The fort of the Petit Bé, behind the island of the Grand Bé

On the background, the fort of Harbour Island

♠ ♠ ♠
opaljadeopaljade on November 6th, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC)
Impressive! So glad you posted these photos.

Merci beaucoup! :D
ys_melmothys_melmoth on November 7th, 2015 08:44 pm (UTC)
De rien :-) I'm glad you like it.
lookelookes on November 6th, 2015 11:28 pm (UTC)
Cool! I really want to go. I live in Plymouth, UK and just seen I can get a ferry there for £30-35 each way so it's easily doable.
ys_melmothys_melmoth on November 7th, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC)
Yep. It's not very far, and there are quite many things to do if you can stay a few days. The history museum in the castle is interesting, but you can also visit the hotel Magon - a beautiful privateer town house - and the Etoile du Roy, if you're interested in boats. The National fort is opened to visitors from april to september, and not far from here is also the Solidor Tower, in which you'll find an extension of the castle's museum. Don't forget to eat a few crepes on the rampart at the "Corps de Garde", and have a drink in this awesome place :-)

(No, I assure you, I'm not paid by Saint-Malo's tourist office ^^)

thoughtsbykatthoughtsbykat on November 7th, 2015 12:27 am (UTC)
Wow, that's huge. Thanks for sharing.
ys_melmothys_melmoth on November 7th, 2015 08:45 pm (UTC)
You're welcome :)
Gilda Elise: Misc-Castle in the Cloudsgilda_elise on November 7th, 2015 12:15 pm (UTC)
What a lovely place! Even old ships in the harbor. But what are the sticks in the sand for?
kizzikatkizzikat on November 7th, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
Posts like that in the sand are often to break the force of the waves against a vulnerable piece of coast. Lines of them out into the water (often with planks between them) are to stop the beach getting washed away.

The lines of posts under the walls are to stop ships mooring against the walls.

Edited at 2015-11-07 06:29 pm (UTC)
ys_melmothys_melmoth on November 7th, 2015 09:08 pm (UTC)
Yep. Here, it's especially to protect the causeway from the waves during spring tides, when the sea can be quite... intrusive.
kizzikatkizzikat on November 7th, 2015 09:13 pm (UTC)
It's that pesky Atlantic Ocean - a bit fearsome!
kizzikatkizzikat on November 7th, 2015 06:23 pm (UTC)
Excellent photos, thanks! Love the one with the ship's masts.
Ms. Antimacassar: Emma - Umbrellamsantimacassar on November 17th, 2015 03:03 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you for sharing these stunning photos! I recently read and loved All the Light We Cannot See which is partially set in Saint-Malo (it also contains a depiction of the bombing during World War II) and it is so lovely to be able to picture the setting through your pictures! It is such a fascinating place!
ys_melmothys_melmoth on November 25th, 2015 08:08 pm (UTC)
I hadn't heard about this book before, but it seems very interesting. I add it on my must-read lists :-)

You can also find pictures of Saint-Malo in 1944 here : part one and part 2.
Ms. Antimacassar: Persuasion - Cravat Closeupmsantimacassar on November 27th, 2015 07:05 am (UTC)
It is a really good, yet very bittersweet book! I hope you enjoy it! :)

Oh, wow! I am so amazed they managed to rebuild after so much destruction! Thanks for those photos as well!
kittenkilldare on January 1st, 2016 11:53 am (UTC)
Beautiful! And so sad to hear the town was destroyed :(