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Chasing the Light in Saint-Malo: A Journey Inspired by 'All the Light We Cannot See’

Travel to Saint-Malo France for an epic experience of history and romance

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Written by Anne Travous

Welcome to a journey through the cobbled streets and ancient ramparts of Saint-Malo, a city that has not only witnessed centuries of maritime history but also served as the enchanting backdrop for Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, 'All the Light We Cannot See (now a Netflix adaptation limited series direct by Shawn Levy and developed by Steven Knight, starring Aria Mia Loberti, Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie).' As we explore this picturesque coastal gem, we also weave in the magic of both novel and TV adaptation, allowing the threads of fiction and reality to intertwine like the salty breezes that sweep across the ramparts.

The Walled City

Step into the pages of Doerr's novel as you wander through the formidable walls of Saint-Malo. These ramparts, which once protected the city from invasions, now offer panoramic views of the sparkling sea and the charming town within. Picture young Marie-Laure (a blind French girl) and Werner (a German boy forced to join and fight for the Nazi regime) navigating these very walls, their lives intertwined in a tale of war, resilience, and the enduring power of human connection.

The Sea of Stories

Saint-Malo's maritime heritage is as vast and captivating as the boundless ocean itself. Explore the Maritime Museum to delve into the city's seafaring past, mirroring the experiences of Doerr's characters who found solace and purpose in the embrace of the sea. From ship models to navigational instruments, the museum breathes life into the maritime backdrop of 'All the Light We Cannot See.'

Credit: ToTravelIsBrilliant via TripAdvisor

The Island of Grand Bé

For a moment of solitude and reflection, embark on a boat trip to the nearby island of Grand Bé. Anthony Doerr's lyrical prose comes alive as you traverse the sands that Marie-Laure once explored with her great-uncle. The island, a sanctuary for seabirds, echoes the novel's themes of isolation, survival, and the beauty hidden in the simple rhythms of nature.

Saint-Malo's Labyrinths

Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets of Saint-Malo's old town, much like the characters in 'All the Light We Cannot See' who navigate the complexities of a world at war. Each narrow alleyway and hidden courtyard conceals tales of resilience and the endurance of the human spirit. As you explore, imagine Marie-Laure's world of darkness and light, and Werner's struggle to find his own moral compass amidst the chaos.

Culinary Escapades

Indulge in the local flavors of Saint-Malo, savoring the seafood delights that mirror the novel's coastal setting. Enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the charming bistros, letting the tastes and aromas transport you to the culinary experiences described in 'All the Light We Cannot See.' Perhaps, like the characters, you'll find that even in the simplest of meals, there lies a profound connection to the essence of life.

As you bid adieu to Saint-Malo (much as the main characters eventually say farewell to the Sea of Flames), you carry with you not only the memories of its storied streets and salty air but also the echoes of 'All the Light We Cannot See.' The city and the story intertwine, creating a tapestry of experiences that resonate with the universal themes of love, loss, and the indomitable human spirit. May your own journey be filled with the light that transcends both fiction and reality.

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Where to Stay in Saint-Malo, France

If you find yourself yearning for a tranquil escape, where cobbled streets echo with the melodies of the sea, we've curated a list of enchanting vacation rentals that promise an authentic Saint-Malo experience. Join us as we explore these hidden gems, each offering a gateway to the rich history, culture, and natural beauty that define this captivating coastal haven.

1 BD | 1 BA | Sleeps 2

From $113/nt

Emanating quintessential coastal charm, this delightful holiday apartment in the storybook town of Saint-Malo combines elements of rustic-chic – courtesy of the exposed stone detailing – with thoroughly modern influences.

2 BD | 2 BA | Sleeps 4

From $119/nt

If you’re seeking a coastal gem minutes from the sands of Saint-Malo, this contemporary dwelling has it all. Just a short walk from Rochebonne Beach, and with a nautical style, modern amenities and light-filled interior – this boho gem is perfect to stretch out and relax in after long days of swimming and sun-soaking.

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2 BD | 1 BA | Sleeps 5

From $134/nt

Located in Saint-Malo, the age and history of this beautiful home become apparent as soon as you start to climb the narrow, steep period staircase up to the third floor. Open the door to your home-away-from-home, and you’re met with charm and character in abundance. This is a retreat for those who enjoy life's older, finer things.

2 BD | 1 BA | Sleeps 4

From $144/nt

In the heart of the walled city of Saint-Malo, this charming apartment combines mid-century chic with contemporary comfort. And not only is it a lovely place to stay, but it's also in a prime location for exploring this coastal city, less than a kilometre from the beach.



Getting to St. Malo, France

Getting to Saint-Malo can be an adventure in itself, given its coastal location in Brittany, France. Here are some recommendations for reaching Saint-Malo, whether you're arriving by plane, train, or car:

By Plane:

Rennes Airport (RNS)

The nearest major airport to Saint-Malo is Rennes Airport. From Rennes, you can take a train or bus to Saint-Malo. The journey takes approximately one hour.

Dinard-Pleurtuit-Saint-Malo Airport (DNR)

While smaller, Dinard Airport is closer to Saint-Malo. It offers seasonal flights from certain destinations. From the airport, you can reach Saint-Malo by taxi or public transportation.

Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE)

Nantes Airport is another option, offering a wider range of international flights. From Nantes, you can take a train to Saint-Malo, and the journey takes around two hours.

By Train:

High-Speed Train (TGV)

Saint-Malo is well-connected by train, and the TGV offers high-speed rail services. The TGV station is located near the walled city. Direct trains from Paris (Montparnasse station) to Saint-Malo take around two and a half hours.

Regional Trains

If you're traveling from nearby cities in Brittany or other regions, regional train services are available. Check the schedules and routes to plan your journey accordingly.

By Car:

From Paris

If you prefer the flexibility of driving, you can rent a car and take the A11 and A81 highways from Paris to Saint-Malo. The journey typically takes around four hours, depending on traffic.

From Rennes

Saint-Malo is about an hour's drive from Rennes. Take the N137 highway to reach Saint-Malo by car.

By Bus:

FlixBus offers long-distance bus services to various European cities, including Saint-Malo. Check their schedules and routes for an affordable and comfortable bus journey.


- It's advisable to check the latest travel restrictions, visa requirements, and COVID-19 protocols before planning your trip.

- Book your transportation tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

- Consider purchasing a rail pass if you plan to explore other cities in France by train.

- Saint-Malo is a walkable city, so once you arrive, you can explore most attractions on foot.

Whether you choose to fly, take the train, or drive, the journey to Saint-Malo sets the stage for a memorable adventure in this historic and picturesque coastal city.


About the Writer

Meet Anne - An adventure-obsessed destination daydreamer, experience curator, food & wine epicure and self-proclaimed jetsetting junkie. Boasting a diverse background in business, art, architecture and museum curatorship, Anne spends her days forging national and international brand partnerships to support large-scale charitable causes. By night, Anne has turned her passion for globetrotting into a thriving travel planning, blogging and content creation business. Through her work, Anne keeps a keen pulse on all things wanderlust, igniting the travel dreams of adventurers far and wide, and helping to make her clients' bucket list adventures a reality. When she's not traveling, you can find Anne in her hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she lives with her bloodhound dog, Murphy. Join her on her journeys and discover the world through her unique lens, where culture meets creativity, and wanderlust becomes a way of life. IG: @jetsetandnoregrets

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, markets are subject to change, and property prices may vary. Before making any decisions, it is essential to conduct thorough research.


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