SAINT MALO (Brittany)
Ship sails flutter in the breeze, at the natural port of Saint-Malo - a historic and resilient walled city, which watches out over golden sands and island fortresses. Strung tenuously to the mainland, Saint Malo was the historic home of a rowdy mix of skilled sailors and new world explorers - as well as the plunderers who earned the place its 'Pirate City' title. Some of history's great voyages have launched from here - including Jacques Cartier's, which led to the settlement of New France and modern-day Quebec.
Founded by a Welsh monk, who made his way here in the 6th century, Saint Malo's castle is forged from sheer granite, and its steep defensive ramparts arise defiantly. The atmospheric walled town turns its back to the mainland and gazes out longingly into the sea. Explore streets that breathe with maritime tales and medieval charm - restored from the intense damage sustained during the Second World War. Cathédrale de St Malo rises above the tight paths, offering views of the peppered islands and fortifications. Boatloads of fresh oysters and scallops are heaved ashore - savour them or grab savoury crepes galettes, stuffed with cheese and ham. Wash Saint Malo's foods down with a Brittany cider, which challenges wine as the indulgence of choice in these parts.
A highly tidal region, the pocket-sized islands of Petit Bé and Grand Bé join the mainland, and you can explore at leisure as the tide recedes. The incredible island of Mont Saint Michel also looms in the estuary of the Couesnon River nearby, hovering like a cinematic mirage above high tide’s waters. Elsewhere, Cap Fréhel's lush green peninsula juts out from the emerald coast towards Jersey, tempting with rich coastal hiking trails.