Road Trip Postcard: French Brittany (Part 1) Saint-Malo and Beyond

in Pinmapple3 years ago (edited)

In the summer of 2010, @iamyohann and I borrowed the old family car to spend more than a week-long road trip. Just the two of us. No pre-booked accommodations and no fixed itinerary. We had no smartphones then. All we had was an old folding map. Our rough plan was to explore Northern France first towards Belgium, the farthest we could go, and then navigate our way back to France passing through the Loire Valley.

It was an escape from our busy corporate lives back then. The freedom of being in another country away from work emails was the respite we needed before diving back in to the real world.

French Bretagne is a region located on the north-west of France. It is famous for its gray weather, fresh seafood, rich history, distinct architecture, and an abundance of medieval forts.

To kick-start our adventure, Yohann drove 275 kilometers equivalent to 3 hours to reach our first destination- Saint-Malo.

The Walled City of Saint-Malo

Intra muros was the first thought that came to me when I saw it from a distance. Phlippines has its own versions of fortified cities built during the Spanish Colonization.

Saint-Malo however, is a historic French port with an inner city surrounded by tall granite walls. The city was built as a stronghold for pirates.

The Port of Saint Malo links France to the UK with ferries traveling to Portsmouth, Poole, Weymouth including the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

It started to drizzle. We briskly walked to find cover without missing to take a few snapshots around the wall. We walked on the cobblestone streets of the Old Town and along the 2 kilometer ramparts overlooking the English Channel.

Recommended Places to Visit: The Castle, Cathedral of Saint-Vincent, Maison du Quebec to learn of Saint-Malo's role in the discovery of Quebec and the founding of Canada, Boat trips to nearby islands and stroll around the historic center filled with shops and well-preserved architecture.


From Saint-Malo, we continued our journey to the edge of Brittany along the Bay of Mont St. Michel towards Cancale, a fishing village popularly known for oysters. We may not have sampled the delicious mollusks during our brief stop but we have relished the views from the observation deck of Pointe du Hock.

Recommended Things to Do: Enjoy the beach, stroll along the quay and eat the famous Cancale oysters.

Le Vivier Sur Mer

We continued our journey to find a cheap room for the night along the coast until we found a Bed and Breakfast (Chambre d'Hôtes) housed in an old manor outside of the town center not far from the sea.

Le Vivier Sur Mer is a small and quiet seaside town of 1000 inhabitants. On Rue du Bord de Mer or D155 road, we found shacks selling buckets of oysters and mussels for a cheap price.

Recommended Time to Visit: Feast of the Mussels in July where four tonnes of mussels are enjoyed in the midst of festive musical events.

Food & Drink

Cider is a clear or cloudy beverage made from fresh apples with fine foamy head in yellowish mahogany color. This is their very own special drink. Brittany also known as Bretagne is the second largest Cider producing region in France. Cider or Cidre is traditionally served in oddly shaped tea cups along with their famous Galette, unsweetened crepes made from buckwheat flour wrapped around ham, eggs and cheese.


Due to its close proximity to the sea, fresh seafood and fish are extremely popular. Most especially during the summer where one can enjoy fresh delectable oysters and overflowing bowls of mussels. The best farmed or wild oysters and mussels draw seafood lovers to this region.

Moules Frites.jpg

Enjoy Moules-frites a French and Belgian dish of mussels cooked in butter, garlic, shallots, parsley and dry white wine served with french fries. This and a glass of Chardonnay ? Ah super!

I could easily get carried away with food, so moving on to an unplanned stopover for dinner in Dol-de-Bretagne. Right next to the cathedral was this restaurant where we enjoyed the traditional Galette and Cider.


Mont Dol could be seen from a distance, an isolated granite rock resembling an island on the flat coastal plane. Celtic legends claimed that a religious battle between the devil and Archangel Michael to have taken a place there as seen on the marks on the mound.


The 13th-century old Gothic cathedral welcomed us when we entered the city. Tall trees shaded the town square while I admired the Medieval style and the distinct French Brittany architecture while wandering around town after dinner.

My Takeaway

Aside from food, accommodation and fuel, the sites we have visited were free. We avoided toll fees as much as possible by using smaller roads that passed through small villages which made our travel longer. The car was an old Volkswagen Golf model with limited speed, thus our journey on the road was on a constant slow cruise. These allowed us to visually digest the sights calmly.

Dol de Bretagne.jpg

To escape family drama that awaited me in my home country, France has always been my refuge, my happy place. Every region is unique, reminiscent in its architecture, cuisine, regional dialects, and the number of bisous (kisses) during greetings.

This road trip further solidified a resolve to visit France and explore each region whenever I had vacation leaves to spare and spend time with my new family who had adopted me as their own.

Thank you for reading. Road Trip Postcard is a nostalgic series of old road trips where I reminisce and highlight what was special about them. For the Part 2, we continued the journey to Mont St. Michel. To be continued..

If you enjoyed this post, this previous road trip postcard may be of interest to you:
France's Green Venice: Marais-Poitevin


St. Malo is a great city. Its an old city but the granite wall feels almost modern. Its very unique in that regard. Our trip to Brittney was very similar. We did Mont St. Michel, St. Malo, Dinan and Dole de Bretagne.
While you were in Bretagne did you happen to try the desert pastry kouign amann? It was delicious but I honestly felt like I was going to have a heart attack from all the butter. I guess thats why its called Europe's fattiest desert though lol.

I'm excited to read your Mont St. Michel post. It will be neat reading about it from another persons perspective.

Great post!

Guess what, I missed trying the Kouign-amann. If this is the fattiest pastry, I can't imagine how much butter is in there. I was already shocked when I saw the huge slab of butter used in making croissants and pains au chocolat alone so having a butter pastry with even more butter..oh boy. but I'm glad to hear it's delicious, worth the heart attack risk then 😁

I just quickly glanced on your feed and I saw you've previously written about French Brittany, I will just grab a cup of coffee and read your post about your experience there. Thanks for reading, I am always happy to receive comments.

Nice photos! Destinations look great. Love the sail boats!

UK is just one small ferry ride away from here and I have never been 😁

So, you have somewhere to look forward to then 😉

Yes definitely 😊

Beautiful! I once went to St Malo for a day trip. We were in Jersey (back when I lived in London) for a long weekend and caught the ferry across for a bit of a look.

Hello @mrhill were you able to enjoy it on a better weather than we did?

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Europe and most especially France is a culturally-rich destination worth the travel. Its countrysides and suburbs are the ideal spots to immerse with nature, mingle with the locals, and be away from the busy city life. Exploring these beautiful places by car I believe is the best way to take it slow and enjoy the experiences. Thank you Arni for the enriching story!

Its like re-visiting History of Architecture classes but even more fun because we get to see the structures for real. Indeed, driving in a car at one's own pace, taking in the sights, meeting people while having freedom to stop at any place anytime is a great way to recharge one's batteries.

So near yet so far away from UK. In fact, the town does look a tad like some of the UK ones, and cider is very famous in my neck of the woods here. I just checked the ferries from UK, takes around 5 hours, something to think about .....

@tipu curate

You're right, so near yet so far away. it's not a small ferry trip as I thought since it takes 5 hours. How interesting it is to know the similarities between the towns in UK and this region. I just checked Le Havre as well, it also takes even longer to get to Portsmouth by ferry. Thank you so much

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It's hard to imagine traveling now without Google Maps, you guys must have a really good sense of direction to be able to navigate yourselves correctly in France. I would probably be lost or asking locals more often. I think France has always had an impact in the Philippines. I read an article once that Filipinos whom we consider as heroes today owe their sense of nationalism to France after the French revolution. That's really to know. Anyways, great photos despite being years old.

There were times we ended up in someone's farm 😂. Getting lost and arguing when missing a turn were part of the journey.
You gave me an idea to try it again one day.

Interesting article on the french revolution influence. I saw a documentary by Howie Severino featuring our national artist's life abroad and he talked about how our heroes regularly spent their leisure time in Paris to visit Juan Luna. I an not sure if there was a connection.

Thanks Aaron for reading and for your comment, I highly appreciate it.

Lindas fotos, y lindo lugar. La comida tambien se ve deliciosa, espero ir algún día alli. Gracias por compartir!

Hello @evelynchacin, thank you for your lovely comment. 🙂