St Malo- A Sensible Life

Written by on 22nd July 2015 in Blog with 0 Comments

N coast beach

The beach – St Malo

Whilst on holiday last week I picked up a novel at the property called A sensible Life by Mary Wesley. Its always interesting to read a book you would not normally come across, by an author not on your usual list. With great surprise I found that the early part was set in St Malo in 1926. This is the opening of chapter two.

‘ In the spring of 1926 middle -class English families too their young to Brittany for the Easter holidays. It as thought good for them to catch a glimpse of foreign soil, see some sights, learn a few words of French. It was easy to get to St Malo by steamer from Southampton, as cheap or cheaper that travel by rail to Cornwall, a similar country, in many ways equally foreign. Dinard, across the river Rance from St Malo, had a beach, casino, a tennis club and many excellent hotels. By early April the dining rooms of the hotels Angleterre, Britannique, Bristol and Marjolaine rang to the sound of British vowels discussing the weather (so similar to that of South West England), the delights of shopping at the favourable exchange rate (a really splendid number of francs to the pound) and a nice rest for mothers of families from a servant problem grown acute since the war.’

Well, nothing much seems to have changed except the problem with the servants!

Later on the talk is of taking the foot ferry across the river Rance from St Malo to Dinard. This reminded me of my own trip on this ferry when on the first part of my around Brittany walk.

Dinard ferry

I was really surprised that Brittany was so popular even not long after the First World War and that the description was so similar to today. St Malo remains a popular arrival port for Brittany holidays with the Brittany Ferries boat from Portsmouth making daily overnight crossing so beloved of aficionados of Brittany. Not least for the excellent restaurant, which serves a superb three course meal for around £30. I have been using this crossing for over 30 years and its an excellent way to arrive relaxed at 8 o’ clock in the morning ready for an easy run to a wide variety of lovely seaside resorts.

St Malo is worth a weekend trip with the old walled town a great place to stroll around. The foot ferry across to Dinard is still operating and Dinard retains all the charm that the English found in the 1920’s with the casino, elegant hotels, restaurants and sophisticated shopping still in evidence.

Even if you are arriving at the port early in the morning and are keen to press on to your destination, it worth a short stop in the old town, just a few hundred yards from the ferry terminal. My suggestion is to skip breakfast on the boat and stop at one of the many restaurants for a traditional French breakfast for a really authentic start to your holiday.

Breakfast St Malo

My favourite breakfast bar.

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