Top Historic Sights in Saint-Malo, France

Explore the historic highlights of Saint-Malo

Château de Saint-Malo

Château de Saint-Malo was built between 1424 and 1690, first by Jean V, the Duke of Brittany. The Duke Francois II built the first tower in 1475. In 1590 during the Wars of Religion the castle was occupied by local people, who wanted to prevent local governor to gave the city to Protestant king Henry IV. The château was modified in the 17th century according the design of famous fortress architect Sebastian V ...
Founded: 1424 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Saint-Malo Cathedral

Saint-Malo Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint-Malo) is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa. It was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Malo. The cathedral was built in 1146 when Jean de Châtillon, Bishop of Aleth, transferred his bishopric to the growing town of Saint-Malo on a more secure site across the river. The Benedictine monastery of Saint Malo ...
Founded: 1146 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Fort National

Fort National stands on l'Îlette rock. This was originally the site of a beacon that was lit at night to act as a lighthouse. Îlette was also a place of public executions for the seigniory of Saint Malo, which burnt criminals there. Latter a gallows occupied the site. A model in Saint-Malo's history museum suggests that a battery may have occupied the site before the subsequent erection of the Vauban fort. The engineer ...
Founded: 1689-1693 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Solidor Tower

Solidor Tower (tour Solidor) is a strengthened keep with three linked towers, located in the estuary of the river Rance. It was built between 1369 and 1382 by John V, Duke of Brittany (i.e. Jean IV in French) to control access to the Rance at a time when the city of Saint-Malo did not recognize his authority. Over the centuries the tower lost its military interest and became a jail. It is now a museum celebrating Breton s ...
Founded: 1369-1382 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Grand Bé

Grand Bé is a tidal island located few hundred metres from the walls of Saint-Malo. At low tide the island can be reached on foot from the nearby Bon-Secours beach. Around 1360, hermits built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Laurel, then to St Ouen. A redoubt was built in 1555, then replaced by other fortifications in 1652. François-René de Chateaubriand, a French writer native to Saint-Malo, is ...
Founded: 1652 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Petit Bé

Petit Bé is a tidal island near Saint-Malo, France, close to the larger island of Grand Bé. There is a fort built in the 17th century. It was part of the defense belt designed by Vauban to protect the city of Saint-Malo from British and Dutch fleets. This belt also included the walls of the Saint Malo, Fort National, Fort Harbour, Fort de la Conchée, and the forts of Cézembre and Pointe de la V ...
Founded: 1695 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Château de la Briantais

The first manor on the site was built in 1666 by the Pointel family. Today the ruins of this original manor are still visible. The current Château de la Briantais was built by Eugene Sully-Brunet between 1850-1864. Today it is owned by the city of Saint-Malo and used for concerts and other events. The 27-hectares park is worth of seeing, including a chapel from 1778.
Founded: 1850-1864 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Aleth Cathedral Ruins

Aleth was a Gallo-Roman settlement on a peninsula on one side of the Rance estuary. The bishopric was established in the 9th century. Aleth Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre d"Aleth) was destroyed by Norman invaders in the 10th century but later rebuilt. The site of Aleth however was not a secure one and the town of Saint-Malo had begun to grow up on a far more defensible site on a rocky islet in the estuary ...
Founded: 920 AD | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Fort de la Conchée

Fort de la Conchée is an island fortification constructed by Sebastien Vauban. In 1689 Vauban conducted an inspections of French coastal fortifications for King Louis XIV, who wished to strengthen and improve the country"s defences. In 1693 whilst the fort was being constructed the English raided the town. They landed on Conchée where they slighted the works and captured those working on the fort. Agai ...
Founded: 1689-1705 | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Jacques Cartier Manor House

The Jacques Cartier Manor House is the only existing property wich belonged to Cartier, the discoverer of Canada, in 1534. It’s a rare example of a great 16th century explorer’s home. Jacques Cartier opened up the North American continent to the French via the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The manor house has been restored and furnished to illustrate both the everyday life and the travels of its famous owner. From t ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Saint-Malo, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Luxembourg Palace

The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.

The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.

In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.

During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.

Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.

The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.

During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.