Port of Saint-Malo
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Known as the City of Corsairs, Saint-Malo made its fortune on the high seas through trade, exploration and, in some cases, privateering -- piracy that was sanctioned by the crown during times of war. These 17th- and 18th-century pirates, called corsairs, could capture enemy ships and keep both the vessel and anything on it for themselves, as long as they contributed a portion of the bounty to the king. Modern-day visitors can learn more about the dangerous but lucrative life of an 18th-century corsair at the Demeure de Corsaire, or Privateer's House.
Saint-Malo has long since outgrown the bounds of the original medieval city, and today, only about 1,000 people live permanently within the walls. The area is particularly popular with wealthy Brits and Parisians who keep summer residences there and with visitors who appreciate the convivial sidewalk cafes, historic plazas and bracing salt air.
Many cruisers skip Saint-Malo altogether in favor of a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel, the famous medieval abbey and village that loom over the surrounding tidal flats in many a French postcard. Saint-Malo is also a good jumping-off point for other explorations in the Brittany region; appealing stops include the oyster farms of Cancale, the pretty riverfront village of Dinan and the 19th-century beach resort of Dinard.
Where You're Docked
Smaller ships dock along the Quai Saint-Louis, just a few steps from one of the entrances into the old city. Larger vessels must moor farther out and tender passengers to Cale de la Bourse, which is also within walking distance of the city walls.
Good to Know
At low tide, visitors can walk to the fort on the island of Petit Be, but stay too long and you could be stranded on the island when the water rushes back in. Ask about the tide schedules at the tourist office before setting out.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The currency in France is the euro. You can check the latest exchange rates at www.xe.com or www.oanda.com. There's an ATM in the old city at the Banque Populaire de L'ouest (3 Rue Porcon de la Barbinais).
French is the official language. Many locals speak at least a little English, especially within the city walls, where tourists are common.
Save space in your suitcase for locally crafted lace or pottery, or perhaps a Breton shirt with the horizontal stripes that fashion icons such as Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel made famous. If you're looking for edible souvenirs, salted butter caramel candies make for a sweet and easily transportable indulgence.
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