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Brittany's St. Malo: Rebuilt = Underwhelming?

From what we've seen in pictures, St. Malo looks amazing, but after learning more about it's WWII history, am not as excited to experience it in person. Anyone else feel this way?

Posted by
10115 posts

Amy: Can you share some of what you've learned about the extent of WW2 damage and reconstruction at St. Malo?Pending your reply with that, a question that occurs to me is:Is there a reason why the extent of reconstruction at St. Malo makes it different from the many, many other European cities that were heavily damaged during WW2 and have been rebuilt since 1945?Examples of the other cities devastated during the war are obviously too numerous to list, just a few examples are:The East End of LondonLarge portions of many German cities, just 3 obvious examples being Munich, Berlin and Dresden. Significant portions of ViennaCaen and some other Normandy towns & villagesAnd so on.These cities and many others have been largely rebuilt since the war, and nevertheless continue to attract many travelers. Is there a reason why the situation at St. Malo is materially different from these?

Posted by
1579 posts

Last summer, we decided to stay in Dinan rather than St. Malo, based on guidebook info and comments on this site. Dinan was very interesting, but after visiting St. Malo as part of a day trip, we wished we had stayed there instead and made Dinan the day trip. St. Malo offered more to do, better shopping, and was on the bay.

Posted by
11289 posts

Amy, I was in ST Malo a long, long, time ago,, decades,, maybe three decades,, LOL, a long time ago anyways. I liked it, I didn't have any preconcieved ideas though as I was very young and just thought it was a cool city on the water, loved the old walls and ramparts, and had my first mussels there.
It is hard when we build up a place in our heads, our expectations etc.

I suggest you go and see it anyways, at the least its worth a day right?

Posted by
150 posts

I have been and I liked it. The defensive walls are still the original ones (shows how sturdily they were built if even 20th century carpet bombing couldn't destroy them!), and the city was largely rebuilt with the same materials.

You have to bear in mind that Europe over the centuries has seen more than just WWII, so in fact a lot of stuff has been razed to the ground, rebuilt, destroyed, rebuilt, vandalized and then fixed over the centuries. St Malo is the same thing, that's the way it is and always has been (although thankfully not so much since 1945).

Interestingly enough it was people from St Malo who played an important part in the exploration and foundation of Canada, it was Canadian bombers that destroyed it, and it was Canadians that participated in its reconstruction. The town is very proud of its links with Canada.

It's also a sobering reflection on modern warfare as the museum shows before/after photographs of the bombing.

It doesn't look "fake" if that's what you're wondering, at least I didn't think so.

Posted by
264 posts

No, I don't feel this way. I was just in St. Malo last June and had a most amazing time! The only prior knowledge that I had was about it's 2,000 years of pirate history. If you can believe it, I had absolutely no idea that it was connected with WWII in any way. If you do decide to go be sure to have lunch at Le Lion D'or! This alone will make the trip worthwhile! Bon Voyage!

Posted by
2297 posts

I've been to St Malo many times and love it. Any concern I'd ever have in recommending a trip to it would be more because of its very touristy parts. In high season it can be very very busy and I don't like venturing inside Intramuros and just stay on the ramparts or get down to the beach, to the little islands or take a boat to enjoy this amazing place.

The former destructions aren't really a concern for me. As many have mentioned already, this is just part and parcel of travelling through Europe - or living there. There is very little that has never been touched by some kind of extreme destruction due to war(s).

Posted by
2800 posts

While we're mentioning rebuilt tourist venues, how about Carcasonne and Monserrat? Both were redone in the 19th century. BTW, we visited St. Malo for a day and found it to be quite attractive. In fact, we preferred it to either Carcasonne or Monserrat.

Posted by
19 posts

Well i suppose if the WAlls are still the same :) I'd love to love it and think we'll still give it a shot - worth a stop-by for sure. Thanks!

Posted by
875 posts

We were in St. Malo last May and really enjoyed it. We stayed in the old walled city which was very interesting and nice. That section certainly doesn't look as if it were bombed and rebuilt, so you don't get that impression.

Posted by
2297 posts

A city that is not mentioned in RS guide books but probably one of my favourite places to live and visit in Germany is Muenster and is one of the many many examples in Germany that the equation "Rebuilt = Underwhelming" just doesn't work out. Muenster looked like this in April 1945:

And by 2004 it even received the Livcom Award for the most livable city in the world and looks like this:

Fotos: Presseamt Muenster