I once said I would never go on a boat again. Back in my early teens I went on a cruise that lost all power in the middle of the Bay of Biscay and nearly capsized, honestly, it was on the local news it was that bad. So you will probably be pretty surprised to hear that I have booked to go on a cruise next month with a friend and, not only that, I hopped down to Portsmouth last weekend and boarded a Brittany Ferry to St Malo. Here is the single girl’s guide to Brittany.
Where To Stay
We stayed on board the ferry for the first night as the crossing is around 9 hours to St Malo. Prices start from £76 per person for a 2 night break, 1 of those nights being on board. We stayed in a club cabin which comes with a television and sleeps up to 4 people. It was compact and the beds are pretty small yet I was surprised by how comfortable they were. Aside from a slightly rocky crossing in the early hours I slept really well. There are cinema screens, shops, bars, restaurants and the outside areas on deck to explore so even if travelling alone, there is plenty to keep you occupied.
Our second night was at the luxurious Hotel France et Chateaubriand. Nestled just behind the city walls this beautiful hotel has 80 bedrooms and 3 dining areas. 20 of the rooms have a sea view, ours included.
This is the stunning view from our room which complimented the modern bathroom and memory foam beds perfectly, a sound night’s sleep was had by all.
If you really want to push the boat out (I love a good pun) you could jump on a sea boat over the water to the picturesque village of Dinard where you will find the ultra plush Le Grand Hotel. You can look out to sea over to the walled city of St Malo from your room or relax in the beautifully manicured lawns. Prices start from 119 euros a night.
What To See
You can take in the sights of St Malo on your own of course but we took a tour with Corinne who has lived in the city for years but actually studied in Manchester so we had an instant connection. From the guard dogs that used to be let loose in the city come nightfall (the bell still sounds from the cathedral to warn locals of their release) to the tales of pirates, Corinne’s enthusiasm is intoxicating and the time flies by.
Corinne also runs foodie tours around the city taking in the best places for the delicacies of the city including gallettes, cheese and spices to name just a few.
We boarded the sea boat for a short cruise over to Dinard where we ambled around the coastal paths taking in the spectacular views over the sea and the majestic villas that are a must for anyone who loves architecture.
The art deco buildings really are something else and you may recognise the open air pool from the film One Day, if only it had been a warmer day I would have taken a dip.
Our tour was arranged by Dinard Tourism Board and was well worth it, especially the slight detour around the food market which was bustling!
What To Eat And Drink
Crepes. Sweet, savoury, it doesn’t matter as long as you try one. Not to be outdone I tried both at Le Corps De Garde with a ham, egg and cheese delight followed by a delicacy in the city, sea salted caramel. Thin crepes house the fillings with a slight tartness that just works. They were beautiful especially washed down with a cup of cider. Have I told you how much I love this city?
We also ate at Le 5 which is on the top floor of Hotel France et Chateaubriand. The food has a seafood theme perfect for the location and the fruits de mer coming out of the kitchen looked spectacular complete with sea snails. I chickened out and opted for the fois gras, which was exquisite, followed by pollack served with a surprisingly light savoury panna cotta and spring vegetables. The whole dish was fresh and light. The dessert was a selection of mini puddings including gateau buerre which is a cake topped with butter and sugar. I fell in love with these delights although I don’t think my waist line will thank me any time soon.
Food on board Brittany Ferries was surprisingly good, as good as any a la carte restaurant I have dined in. Starters and desserts are served buffet style with a great selection of meats, pastas, fish and canapes. Mains change depending on the day but we enjoyed salmon served with ricotta filled ravioli and deconstructed vegetable ravioli on our journey.
Both St Malo and Dinard are beautiful and a perfect short destination to explore for the solo traveller or friends. There’s heaps of history to explore not to mention some excellent little shops and boutiques to spend those extra euros in. I would visit this walled city again in a heartbeat.