Trips from St Malo
If reading of the delights of St Malo has whetted your appetite for more of what the region has to offer, here are my suggestions for places to visit. On the assumption that you will be spending a lot of time in the car getting to your rental property, none of these involve driving more than twenty miles or so.
A trip to nearby Dinan (35 km from St Malo) is like a step back in time. The ramparts, higgledy-piggledy half-timbered houses and crooked, cobbled streets seem to be straight out of the Middle Ages. Sadly the number of tourists brings you back to the 21st century with a bump! The Rue du Jerzual and the Rue du Petit Fort are excellent for art galleries and antique shops but (and I speak from experience) beware of the steep slope especially when it is wet.
Apart from just wandering around the town, window shopping, soaking up the atmosphere and listening to the chimes of the 15th century clock at the Tour de l'Horloge, a look inside the Church of St Sauveur with its Gothic chancel is well worth it. The museum housed in the ruins of the 14th century château contains an impressive display of traditional Breton head dresses, which in some communities are worn to this day.
From St Malo the seaside town of Dinard is just a short ferry ride away. It has an old-fashioned atmosphere and the grand Edwardian houses could be straight out of a Picasso - indeed he created several paintings of the resort. It is a good place for messing around on the beach, taking a boat trip down the Rance estuary or walking along the coastal path. Guided walks of the town in English as well as French run five times a week and cover the town's history, art and architecture.
For the budding engineer a trip to the Espace Découverte is a fascinating experience. This will tell you all you ever wanted to know about the Marémotrice de la Rance, the hydroelectric power station, which exploits the enormous tidal range to generate electricity.
There's no better place for oysters than Cancale, less than ten miles from St Malo. Here the oyster beds yield 4000 tonnes of oysters a year and it is fascinating to watch the catch being unloaded at the port. The town itself has dozens of seafood restaurants, where in addition to the local oysters, other delicious dishes such as mussels, lobsters and langoustines are served. If you need to work off your meal, the 7km walk from Cancale to Pointe du Grouin is most enjoyable, and on a clear day you may be able to see Mont St Michel.