evening in saint-malo.

June 27, 2016


On the evening that we arrived in Saint-Malo, the light made the city glow like a colorized old-timey postcard. You know the ones? Everything cast in a pale yellow or green-blue or washed-out gray. Instead of parasols and bustles the beach goers wore hoodies and skinny jeans, but the sea air filling their lungs no doubt felt nearly the same as it would have a hundred years ago.

The early evening sunlight filtered through thick clouds that would open over the course of the next day and render photographs from the second half of our trip—an adventure up through Northern Brittany and Normandy—close to impossible. Not to worry: We won’t soon forget sloshing up the steps to the top of Mont Saint-Michel or scampering along slick cobblestones in Honfleur. I, for one, am grateful that a lack of photographs means that our drowned-rat dishevelment will be left out of the historical record. As I’ve said before: mine is an incomplete travelogue. Too busy checking out, to always check-in, as it were.

We stayed in Saint-Malo for only one night, but it jogged memories of visiting as a teenager and satisfied my reader’s itch to walk the same streets as Marie-Laure.

The historical walled city, known as intra-muros, was all but destroyed in August of 1944 when Americans bombed the town in an effort to wrest it from Nazi control. The city was rebuilt over the course of 16 years and it’s a sobering and fascinating experience to walk through the streets and notice new stones mashed up against the old ones. 

Here, a few shots of our visit and a few small details from our visit in case anyone’s planning a wander there themselves.st_malo_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1372st_malo_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1376 st_malo_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1388 st_malo_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1395 st_malo_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1401 st_malo_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1406 st_malo_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1410

For the curious:

Where We Stayed: The very lovely bed-and-breakfast, La Villa de Saint-Raphael is just a ten-minute drive from the walled city. The room where we slept was lovely and the hosts generous and kind.  (True story: I found the place by googling “simple, pretty bed-and-breakfast Saint-Malo.” Ask and ye shall receive.) The entire place is a gem, entirely restored just four years ago. (If you go, ask to see the photo album of the process!) (No pictures, alas: but in Honfleur in Normandy we stayed two nights at the very lovely at La Chaumière. Highly, highly recommended.)

Where We Ate: Breizh Café was recommended to us in Paris, but the Saint-Malo location was a true delight with nary a waiting list to contend with! We had an extremely delicious meal served by a warm and friendly staff (plus crayons!) (In Honfleur, a dinner at La Chaumière does not disappoint.) 


On me: My trusty Hackwith Design House overalls (limited edition – out of stock!); an Everlane heavy-weight tee; summer salt waters

On Faye: A genius little Mabo linen dress from last summer that’s serving as a tunic this summer (like this one); equally long-lasting little pants from Red Creek Handmade (like these ones); summer salt waters

On James: A sweatshirt from Marine Layer from half a decade ago (like this one); linen shorts from Bridge & Burn (same style, different color).

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  • Reply Sara June 27, 2016 at 7:23 am

    These photos are lovely. I’ve had my eye on that Everlane striped T. Would you share what size you’re wearing? I’ve had trouble picking a size with their items in the past. Thanks!

    • Reply Erin Boyle June 27, 2016 at 7:52 am

      I have an xs!

  • Reply Christine June 27, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I haven’t spent much time in Saint-Malo, but these gorgeous photos make me want to rethink that!!!

  • Reply Jenna June 27, 2016 at 10:20 am

    What timing! I just finished All the Light We Cannot See last night. (I’m still in mourning…) Love seeing Saint-Malo in modern times. So different yet so familiar to how my imagination drew it. (Wonder if that’s what it’s like to be blind?)
    Beautiful photos as always, Erin. And now I have even more of an itch to go to France!

  • Reply Mary Katherine June 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

    So glad you made it to one of my favorite places. Did you get to see the tide coming in and out? The crazy tides were one of my favorite things about Saint Malo.

    I also adore Honfleur. If you need ideas for more day/weekend trips, Etretat, Caen (and the D-Day beaches), Bayeux, Giverny, and Deauville are all wonderful. I lived in Normandy for a year after college teaching English and it’s been too long since I’ve been back!

  • Reply Claudia June 27, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Love the Marie-Laure comment!

  • Reply daniela June 27, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    thank you so very much for those photos, just read “all the light we cannot see” a couple months ago and loved it. wonderful, this is the icing on the cake!

  • Reply Camila June 27, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Loving every single moment, photo and post while you guys are in France. Enjoy the rest of your stay. <3

  • Reply Akino June 27, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    This post is gorgeous! The photos, the writing… everything. I always hear about Saint-Malo in books and from friends that have been there, and it seems amazing 🙂

    Akino | akinokiki.blogspot.ca

  • Reply Helen June 28, 2016 at 1:06 am

    Love these travel posts! As I prepare for our summer of fun, I’m working on simple simple simple as we pack- it’s wonderfully freeing and refreshing. This almost seems silly to ask- but how has the sleeping arrangement with your little been going on this adventure? I have an 18mo old and I feel like the least simple thing is sleep as I plan. Do you look for places with an extra bed? Does she crawl in with you? Is everyone just slightly sleep deprived– but okay with that? I’m sure it’s been different at different locations– but any thoughts you have are greatly appreciated.

  • Reply Erin June 28, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Ooh, I used to live there! I was a jeune fille au pair, once upon a time, and spent a year exploring that walled city. Thanks for the reminiscing.

  • Reply Kim B. June 28, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    It really sounds like you’re having a lovely lovely vacation, I’m so happy for you all that you are having this time.

    I’d love to go back to Saint-Malo now that I have Marie-Laure and her story in my mind, I totally get what you mean!!

  • Reply Tey Cindy June 29, 2016 at 4:12 am

    Hi Erin,

    I just want to say that I really enjoy reading your writing style.

    Whenever a book feels like too much of a commitment, when my inspirations run dry or when the world just seems like nothing is right anymore, the smallest piece of your tea leaf gets life & the creative juice flowing.

    Keep up the good work. x

    • Reply Erin Boyle June 29, 2016 at 8:27 am

      Gah! Thank you!

  • Reply thedailyweeklyblog June 29, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    This is amazing post.. I am planning a europe trip for next year..this might be potential candidate 😀


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