Ferries and cruises to St Malo, France

The area of Brittany in the north west corner of France has been around for millennia – some of the ancient burial grounds that have been discovered in this part of the country are older than the Egyptian pyramids, and date back to a time when Brittany was known as the Armorican Peninsula.

Throughout that time, Brittany has been the home of invention, or change, and of growth, and today the area is a thriving community based on industry and tourism.

Brittany was once an independent state, and it was only in 1532 that it became united with the rest of France. This independence gave the area its own unique language, customs, and architecture, so it is the ideal place to visit to see something new and different when you are in France.

Getting to St Malo

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Plymouth St Malo 2 weekly 8¼ hours See prices °
Portsmouth St Malo 1 daily 8¾ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Sorry, no mini cruise routes can be found sailing to St Malo sailing on a cruise ship.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Cruise & Maritime Voyages 2 for 1 sale from £279
  2. 2 for 1 Guernsey mini cruise on Condor Ferries from £32
  3. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp

Sightseeing

There is a first time for everything, and your first time visiting Brittany needs to be memorable and exciting – that’s the point of finding and exploring new places. In order to make the most of your time in this beautiful area of France, there are some sights that simply can’t be missed…

Grand Site Naturel de Ploumanac'h

The Grand Site Naturel de Ploumanac'h is certainly something that will stick in the mind.

These striking, naturally pink boulders that rise up from the ground will surprise you and intrigue you in equal measures. And once the boulders have been examined, there are some gorgeous walks along the coastline, or along the beautiful beach (which, if you’re brave enough and the weather is fair, is perfectly find to swim in), to enjoy.

With traditional French cafés dotted along the way, and plenty to see as you go, this is a great way to spend a day enjoying the stunning scenery, taking in the culture, and getting some exercise too.

Les Remparts de Saint-Malo

Les Remparts de Saint-Malo is an old walled city, allowing for excellent circular walks around the medieval ramparts themselves. Take your time and enjoy the views – you can look out to see and spot the locals and visitors enjoying their time in the area too.

It may seem hard to believe now, but during World War II, this beautiful walled city was all but destroyed. The restoration work that went on here is remarkable, and many visit just to see how well it was done.

Pointe Saint Mathieu

A visit to Pointe Saint Mathieu should definitely be on your to do list when in Brittany. This is the most western part of France, and standing on the very edge of the land you have the rest of the country at your back; it’s an awesome feeling.

There is a modern lighthouse, and the ruins of an old abbey and monastery here to explore, and the juxtaposition of old and new is remarkable.

Manoir de l’Automobile

The Manoir de l’Automobile is jam packed full of motoring memorabilia. But this is more than ‘just’ a motoring museum; this is a place full of dreams and delights for anyone who has ever even had a passing interest in automobiles.

Learn about the history of transport from the humble horse and cart to the monster of machinery that can be found on the road (and more usually the race tracks) of today. See Formula 1 memorabilia, reconstructed workshops, and motorcycles too. There is even a racing circuit attached to this fantastic two storey museum.

Ile de Batz

Ile de Batz is the place to go when even the mostly peaceful surroundings of mainland Brittany get too much. A short ferry ride away, Ile de Batz is as tranquil as it gets, and is a wonderful way to really relax on a day out – this is literally getting away from it all.

Walk along the coastline, or hire bikes and ride around it, spot the lighthouse (and go inside), and enjoy a snack of crepes and cider at the little café nearby. If you are a photographer, artist, poet, or someone who simply loves nature and its amazing beauty, you are in for a treat on the Ile de Batz.

Chateau de Fougeres

The Chateau de Fougeres is a gorgeous, almost complete (yet one of the oldest in Europe), castle in the Brittany countryside. Pick up your free audio guide as you enter, and discover a world of history, adventure, and architectural genius.

There are also interactive exhibits and plenty of displays to keep you happily occupied for a number of hours. There are also many children’s activities here, so the entire family can enjoy the same castle in their own way.

Parc Animalier et Botanique de Branfere

Parc Animalier et Botanique de Branfere is a great day out for all the family. The animals are kept in the most natural environmental possible, so they are totally at ease, and a joy to behold. Not only can you wander the park and enjoy the animals and the beautiful gardens and greenhouse displays, there are bird of prey displays as well – these should certainly not be missed!

For the real daredevils amongst you, why not try the high rope obstacle course? Or perhaps the huge hanging trampolines? To calm things down, you can feed the farmyard animals and discover free roaming creatures on your way round.

Le Vallee des Saints

Le Vallee des Saints is an ongoing artistic project that incorporates the saints of Christianity into the more Pagan aspects of standing stones. The effect is astonishing, and since more and more saints are being added each year, every time you come back to visit, Le Vallee Des Saints will be different.

Each stone statue represents one saint, and each is three metres tall. Artists and sculptors are encouraged to submit their designs, and the plan is to eventually have 1,000 statues on the site.

Musee de la Compagnie des Indes

The Musee de la Compagnie des Indes has been open since 1984 and is the museum for everything to do with the world famous East India Company; it is the only one of its kind of Europe.

The East India Company has a fascinating and vibrant history, and is renowned for having brought spices and fragrances from Africa, Asia, the Orient, and America back to Europe.

Without the East India Company, the world would be a very different place, both gastronomically and financially. Here is a chance to see India fabrics, Chinese porcelain, the maps that the ships used to navigate, engravings, furniture, and much, much more.

Medievalys

Medievalys is a museum that is dedicated to the medieval period, and particularly to cathedral building.

This was an immense task, especially considering the tools and equipment that were available at the time, but still these magnificent buildings remain, as strong as they ever were – that’s something to celebrate. Within the museum it is possible to work with a stonemason and see just what skills are required to get the brickwork just right – you can even take your attempt home with you.

There are photographs, exhibits, models, and films to enjoy, as well as an excellent audio guide, and a well stocked gift shop.

And there's more....

Brittany deserves a return visit (numerous return visits, actually), as there is so much to do there, not to mention the fact that it is simply a stunning place to be. If you think you’ve done everything there is to do in this region of France, think again – there is always more.

  • Chocolatier Chatillon in Pleyben is a chocolate and biscuit making factory and shop that delights in presenting the most unique treats that owner and master chocolatier Michel Chatillon can think of. Not only can you purchase delicacies such as amandes au chocolat, granit Breton, and caramels au beurre, but you can also watch them being made, view a film about chocolate, and do some tasting while you wait for your order to be filled.
  • The Railway Museum is a must for any train enthusiasts. This small but densely packed museum is mostly about French trains and transport, although locomotives from other countries also appear there. There is even a purpose built cinema in which to watch old footage of these impressive trains.
  • The Village de l’An Mil is an exciting way to step back in time to the medieval age, and see what life was really like. Through a well thought out and interesting reconstruction of a medieval French village (complete with huts, animals, and an audio guide that explains what is happening around you), you get a true sense of the time. There are occasional workshops that run here too, so check to see what’s on before you go.
  • For pure enjoyment, the Musee des Poupees or ‘doll museum’ in the Chateau de Josselin is fabulous. The museum incorporates dolls from around the world, and from all ages. Started in the 19th century by Herminie de Rohan, and continued today by her great granddaughter-in-law, Antoinette de Rohan, you can find rag dolls and china dolls, doll accessories, and a lot of history too. There are almost 5000 items in the museum, and each year the theme is different, so it is worth returning to more than once.
  • Whilst visiting the doll museum, why not stay and look around the Chateau de Josselin. This beautifully impressive building – over 1,000 years old – is a perfect example of how the old can be enjoyed by the modern day. The guided tour starts in the castle’s courtyard and takes visitors around all the public parts of the Chateau de Josselin. With art, furniture, and beautiful architecture, this is a full day out.
  • For nature lovers, the Jardin aux Papillons is a must. This butterfly garden houses some of the most beautiful butterflies in the world, and you can learn everything about them. There is even the chance to watch a chrysalis being formed, and a butterfly being hatched – if you are lucky!
  • Time for something completely different? Frac Bretagne is a contemporary art museum filled with some stunning collections. The building itself has won awards for design and architecture, and the whole thing comes together perfectly to for a unique and exciting place to visit.

Hotels

After a brilliant day out exploring the Brittany region, you’ll want to come back to the comfort of the perfect hotel for you. Here are a few suggestions for when value is important.

Budget & Great Value Hotels in Brittany

Situated in an idyllic position right on the harbour front, the Hotel des Rochers has a friendly staff and unique, relaxing atmosphere that makes many guests return again and again. Despite its low price, there is a great restaurant on site, and it is close to many of Brittany’s main attractions. If you like celeb-spotting, you’ll love it here; the town of Perros-Guirec (and often the hotel itself) is a favourite with movie and TV show makers.

The unique Hotel Restaurant de la Porte Saint-Pierre, built right against the ancient city walls, is a wonderfully interesting place to stay, and to make it really fabulous, the service and rooms are great too. From here you can walk to many attractions, and explore the city of Saint-Malo itself by foot.

Family Friendly Hotels in Brittany

For a family, space can sometimes be at a premium when it comes to hotels. The following examples have plenty of it, and more besides.

Good sized, clean rooms that cater to families (and even pets, should you wish!) perfectly can be found at Hotel Les Ajoncs D’Or in Pont-Aven. There is on-site parking too, so why not hire a car whilst you are in Brittany (or bring your own) and have the chance to explore further afield? If you want even more space – and are happy to pay a little extra – the hotel even has two room suites.

A swimming pool is always an excellent way to keep everyone entertained when you are not our exploring the area, and the pool at the Grand Hotel Barriere in Dinard is a wonderful one. Rooms include robes and slippers to make you absolutely comfortable, and the staff never seem to tire of helping.

Luxurious Hotels in Brittany

You may wish to stay in a luxury hotel for any number of reasons, and no matter why (anniversary, fun treat, just because) there are plenty to choose from in Brittany.

Le Grand Hotel des Thermes Marins de St-Malo is described as having an ‘old fashioned luxury’ about it. This hotel is pure elegance and you will feel very special when staying here. Not only is the hotel stunning, but there is a spa and pool too, so you can treat yourself or a loved one to some soothing and relaxing treatments whilst away from home. Located just on the marina at Saint-Malo, the location is perfect too.

When guests simply don’t want to leave a hotel, you know it must be doing something right! The guests at the Balthazar Hotel & Spa in Rennes are treated like royalty, and come away feeling wonderful. As well as the great rooms and location, the spa treatments are a huge bonus (although they are so popular you must book in advance)!

Restaurants

Is it possible to spend a little but get a lot in terms in great tasting food? Not always. But in Brittany this is definitely the case!

The Oystercatcher is a bar in Saint-Marcan that specialises in home-made delicacies that range from classic American cheeseburgers to spicy Asian curry. It is simple comfort food that fills you up and satisfies any hunger pangs. It is also reasonably priced, and the owner is always on hand to make sure you are having a great time in his little restaurant. Superb food and an atmosphere to match.

Origano Restaurant is an Italian eatery located in the historic town of Saint-Malo. With pasta and pizza leading the way on the small but perfectly formed menu, Origano is a friendly and comfortable place to eat and not spend a fortune on the food.

If your experience of taking the whole family out to eat has been fraught with problems in the past, don’t worry. In Brittany there are plenty of family friendly restaurants to try.

Not only does Le Cantorbery in Dinan offer a great kids’ menu in addition to the general one, but for true culinary entertainment – and something the children will remember for some time to come – many of the dishes are prepared in the main dining room, on a medieval open fire.

Aux Sabots Rouges in Guémené-sur-Scorff is not just a restaurant (although as restaurants go, it’s a good one offering traditional fish and chips and steak and mushrooms for example, as well as a tempting children’s menu); this establishment doubles as an art gallery and live music venue as well, so you can enjoy your food and be entertained at the same time – definitely value for money!

Want to treat yourself? Brittany is renowned for excellent food and fine dining. Here are just a few examples to whet your appetite:

Restaurant le Coquillage in Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes is what fine dining dreams are made of. Attentive service and food that the patrons cannot praise enough make for a dining experience that will never be forgotten.

Menu highlights include sea snails, marinated bass, an incredible and utterly fresh john dory, and desserts that stem from a decadent chocolate and salted caramel tart to a cheese board that is matched to everything you’ve just ordered. Superb.

There are two Michelin stars to chef Olivier Bellin’s name, and the food at L’Auberge des Glaziks in Plomodiern proves why he has earned them. Each dish – such as goats cheese ravioli, lobster with apple and grapefruit jus, and basil and chocolate foam with banana and lime sorbet – is imaginative and delicious, and ideal for a special occasion.

Family travel

Thanks to its many beaches and attractions, masses of space for camping, and safe roads for cycling, Brittany is ideal for families to explore and enjoy together. Whether you go in the height of the tourist season in the summer when the weather is pleasant and the seas are perfect for paddling in, or you choose to go when the area is less crowded and the weather is much cooler, there are things to do both inside and out, and the choice is entirely yours.

When to Visit Brittany

Visiting this fantastically beautiful and endlessly fascinating part of France any time between March and October is ideal; the beaches are great, the attractions are almost universally guaranteed to be open, and the entire area is buzzing with excitement and people. Outside of these times and you may find that some of the attractions are closed for the winter (Brittany is an area that works in tune to the tourist season in the summer months) , so check before visiting any of them to avoid disappointment.

For those who want to swim in the sea itself, late July to early September tend to be the warmest months, and you should have no trouble having a refreshing dip.

August sees the Festival Interceltique de Lorient. Going since 1971, this is a time to celebrate everything Celtic! Around 700,000 people descend on the fairly small town of Lorient, and displays of Celtic dance, music, and sporting prowess are shown around the streets. With over 200 events and 5,000 performers, this is something not to be missed!

If festivals are your thing, then you’ll find two in Rennes, one in July and another in December.

La Tombees de la Nuit (Nightfall Festival) in July sees street performers surprising visitors and locals alike with impromptu performances anywhere and everywhere after dark.

Be prepared to be prevailed upon to watch sketches, mimes, and comedians ply their trades in the streets of Rennes! And the Recontres Trans Musicales every December is a huge music festival that is well known for finding ‘the next big thing’ in French and European music. Almost 70,000 people attend this festival each year, and the number of performers grows annually.

Handy information

Where you will dock

The thriving ferry port at St Malo is located a short distance from gorgeous sandy beaches. It is located on the western side of the town.

If you are taking your car, caravan or camper van to France on the ferry then you'll be pleased to hear the port is very close to the D126. This heads south and then westwards until the border between Ille-Et-Vilaine and Cotes D'Armor where it becomes the D768.

The D137 branches off the D126 south of St Malo and heads down to meet the French motorway network with routes west, east and south.

Nearest airport

The nearest airport is Aéroport Dinard Bretagne, a small regional airport with routes to East Midlands airport, London Stansted airport, and Guernsey airport. It is about 8 miles (about 13 kilometres) from the port.

Nearest railway stations

St Malo railway station can be found in the heart of the town, and is around 1.5 miles (about 2 kilometres) from the ferry terminal.

Currency

The currency used in Brittany is the Euro (€). 100 cents make up 1 Euro. Euro coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents coins. Euro bank notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 values.

The exchange rate is currently around £1 equals €0.00. The rate you get when exchanging currency online or on the high street may differ to this rate as this figure comes courtesy of the European Central Bank. The foreign exchange rate may differ from this so it pays to shop around to get the most currency for your money

Ferry Routes

Operator Route Services Travel Time Price
Plymouth St Malo 2 weekly 8¼ hours See prices °
Portsmouth St Malo 1 daily 8¾ hours See prices °

This information is for reference purposes only. Journey times are approximate. Frequency is based on typical schedules. Schedules are subject to availability and weather conditions. Information correct at the time of writing.

Taster Cruise Ship Itineraries

Sorry, no mini cruise routes can be found sailing to St Malo sailing on a cruise ship.

Top 3 Cruise & Ferry Deals

  1. Cruise & Maritime Voyages 2 for 1 sale from £279
  2. 2 for 1 Guernsey mini cruise on Condor Ferries from £32
  3. Day trip to Rosslare with Stena Line from £5.50pp

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