The new marina in Bassin Vaubin is right next to the main gate to the old city
This north Brittany port is one of the most spectacular in northern Europe. As well as the rock-studded scenery it offers a rich maritime history, a fabulous walled old city surrounded by water on three sides, and facilities that can cater for the largest of yachts.
The medieval city centre was comprehensively destroyed by Allied bombing in the Second World War, but has been rebuilt in the original style. The result is stunning, a traffic free maze of enchanting side streets and open plazas that are perfect for al fresco dining.
A view of the sea through the old walls – there are first class sandy beaches immediately to the north of the city
There are two main options for berthing. The main marina is Les Bas Sablons, which has 1,200 berths and a boat yard equipped with a 20 tonne hoist. An illuminated sign at the entrance indicates the depth of water over the sill. From here the old city centre is a one mile walk. However, it’s only a few hundred metres to the beach front of the estuary at San Servan, where there’s a further choice of great bars, cafes and restaurants. It’s an ideal spot from which to watch the sunset with a bowl of moules frites.
The old city offers a unique and vibrant traffic free environment.
A more picturesque option for berthing is to lock into the Bassin Vauban right next to the old city walls. Here you can moor in either the new 200-berth marina at the northeast extremity of the dock, or directly against the northern wall, where yachts of up to 160m length, 25m beam and 7m draught can be accommodated.
The approach to St Malo may look foreboding on the chart, but given the big tides here – tidal heights can reach 12.5 metres – a first visit can be timed near to high tide when many of the dangers are a long way below the surface. It’s possible to continue further up the River Rance, locking into freshwater above the hydroelectric dam. Yachts with draught up to 1.6m and air draught of less than 19 metres can reach the town of Dinan, 12 miles up river, without lowering masts. Vessels with a draught of under 1.2m can continue right through the canal system to the South Brittany coast.