Saint-Malo, the jewel of the Emerald Coast in Brittany, is popular with our travelers for its beautiful beach, Grand Plage, its charming historical town, and its friendly locals.

Travelers Ann & Jim Hichak with the locals on the beach at Saint-Malo
Travelers Ann & Jim Hichak with the locals on the beach at Saint-Malo

Ann & Jim Hichak

You may also have heard of Saint-Malo if you have read the novel All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which has recently been adapted and released as a mini-series on Netflix. We enjoyed the series and recommend it, whether you’ve read the book or not. 

If you’re not familiar with the story, All the Light We Cannot See is set partly in Paris and mostly in Saint-Malo during World War II. Daniel LeBlanc, a locksmith for the Museum of Natural History, and his blind daughter Marie-Laure flee Paris for Saint-Malo following the German occupation in 1940. With them, they carry a valuable secret, which Daniel is determined should not fall into the hands of the Nazis.

The father-daughter relationship between Daniel (played by Mark Ruffalo in the series) and Marie (Aria Mia Loberti) is very moving. To help his daughter find her way around Paris and then Saint-Malo, he builds wooden models of the cities. Marie explores the model cities with her hands at home first, before venturing out into the streets with her father and exploring them in real life.

City wall and beach at Saint-Malo

Teddy Charti, Unsplash CC0

Another key character in the story is a young German man, Werner Pfennig (Louis Hofmann). He is taken from his orphanage and forcibly recruited into the German army when they discover his talent for building radios. Werner ends up being stationed in St-Malo as a soldier specializing in detecting and tracking radio frequencies. 

Marie and Werner’s fates become intertwined through their shared love of a particular radio program, on a particular frequency, with a particular radio presenter…

But the situation becomes increasingly dangerous for all the characters in Saint-Malo. Marie’s father and Uncle Etienne (Hugh Laurie) disappear, the Allied bombings on Saint-Malo intensify as the Germans prevent the residents from fleeing the town, and Werner’s military colleagues start to question his loyalties…

We’ll let you find out what happens by reading the book or watching the Netflix series!

Saint-Malo old town
Saint-Malo old town

Pline, CC-BY SA 3.0

For our travelers who are fans of the story, we have put together a self-guided walking tour of Saint-Malo, which takes you to many of the places that feature in the book and series. This includes:

  • The address where Marie-Laure lived with her great-uncle Etienne, Mme Manec and father in Saint-Malo
  • A hotel that Werner stayed at
  • Marie-Laure’s walking route from the house to the beach
  • The bakery where the family bought their bread
  • The Fort National, which was used as a prison under German occupation

You may also like to read our blog post on how to spend a day in Saint-Malo, Brittany.

The Fort National on the beach at Saint-Malo
The Fort National on the beach at Saint-Malo

Xavier Foucrier, Unsplash CC0

If you would like to see some nice views of Saint-Malo from a recent movie, you may enjoy The Three Musketeers: Milady (in French, Les Trois Mousquetaires: Milady). With the charming actor François Civil playing D’Artagnan, all the scenes that are supposedly set in La Rochelle in the movie were actually filmed in Saint-Malo.

If you’re interested in exploring Saint-Malo and visiting other parts of Brittany, we warmly invite you to browse our self-drive tours of Brittany. A visit to Saint-Malo may also be added on to our tours of Normandy.

France Just For You

Experts in self-drive tours in France

Travelers Reviews

If you want to experience France, but are hesitant because you don’t speak the language, this company is for you. Emilie will prepare an itinerary that is so detailed that even the most inexperienced, non-French speaking traveler will be able to navigate France. Her attention to detail is so incredible that almost everything sitiuation you …
I was amazed when I came across the website that ALL the reviews were excellent. From the moment I started dealing with Emilie I received amazing service in planning our wonderful trip to France. I will not repeat all the details that are in the previous posts but highlight some of the exceptional service that I received. The booking of the …
My husband and I just returned from two magnificent weeks in France that included four nights in Paris, four nights in the Loire Valley, two nights near Mont Saint Michel, three nights in Bayeux, near the WWII Landing Beaches and one night at a CDG airport hôtel. We stayed in charming B&Bs with equally charming hosts who recommended great places to …
Carol & Bruce from the US
A perfect 2 weeks in Provence in the spring! My husband and I were delighted with the itinerary ‘FJFY’ put together for our 2-week self-drive road trip in Provence. During the planning stages Emilie and Laura asked insightful questions about our lifestyle and desires relating to travel. Communications were outstanding throughout the planning stage …
Robert & Karen
Anyone planning a trip to France, whether for the first time or for the twelfth (like me), will benefit from the fabulous itinerary that Emilie can craft for you. My husband and I just returned from 2 1/2 weeks in the Medoc and the Loire Valley that Emilie planned for us: top-notch historic B&Bs with character, charming friendly hosts and sumptuous …
Emilie was a joy to work with - we were completely pleased with our experience! Do not hesitate to use her services - she will do everything to make your trip perfect. We don't care for group/bus "one-size-fits-all" type of tours - but I didn't feel confident enough with my grasp of French to go it alone. France Just For You is the perfect solution …

What are you looking for?