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St Malo Cruises

Situated at the mouth of the Rance River, Saint Malo is one of the prime tourist destinations in Brittany. In the 17th and 18th centuries this Channel port was already of great importance for merchant ships and government-sanctioned pirates, more politely known as privateers.

Saint Malo was the home of the famous explorer Jacques Cartier who sailed from here to explore and colonize Canada. Today visitors flock to Saint Malo to experience the unique "intra-muros" (meaning within the walls) streets of the old citadel. Much of the old town's appearance is due to faithful reconstruction, necessary after heavy bombings that almost totally destroyed Saint Malo in 1944. Only the ramparts withstood the ravages of war and are original for the most part.

Exploration of the old town should include the Saint Vincent Cathedral, noted for its medieval and modern stained glass windows. Another highlight is the museum in the ChÐ ²teau de Saint Malo. Exhibits illustrate the city's most prosperous time during its heydays of piracy, colonialism and slave trading. Various staircases allow access to the ramparts, affording great views over the roof tops and the harbor. Photos mounted along the walls give an idea what the city looked like after the fighting in 1944.

Saint Malo also serves as a gateway for excursions to the legendary Mont Saint Michel, about an hour's drive away. Crowning the mount's summit is the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel with its ensemble of buildings soaring high above the sea. This is one of the country's most spectacular monuments. As amazing as the abbey itself are the extraordinary tide variations that leave the mount to look out on stretches of bare sand at low tide, while the same expanse of land is totally submerged during high tide.

About 25 miles south of Saint Malo is the medieval town of Dinan. Once totally surrounded by ramparts, 14 towers and a good part of the walls are still standing, encircling beautiful 15th-century timbered houses.