This guide provides everything you need to know about a visit to St Malo and Dinan with a motorhome. We include where to park, what to see and do and where to eat.
Dinan is known for its medieval ramparts, cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. Add in a 14th-century castle and keep, a 15th century artillery tower, a magnificent Gothic style church as well as shops, cafes and great restaurants and you have a fabulous holiday destination to visit in your motorhome or camper.
Where to stay with a motorhome in Dinan?
There is overnight parking for motorhomes and campers near the river on an official camping ‘Aire’ (no facilities) but we decided to stay at the municipal campsite in Dinan, which is only a pleasant 10 minute walk to the centre of Dinan old town. It’s a basic site with 51 grass pitches, some of which are sloping. On the plus side there are plenty of fresh water taps. I always love a nearby fresh water tap!
What to see in Dinan
The centre of Dinan is mostly a pedestrian zone so you can easily wander through the streets of the old town of Dinan. The Gothic church is worth a visit as well as a walk down what must be the longest and steepest cobbled road I have ever seen. This steep road leads down to the river where you will find waterfront restaurants and plenty of boats moored; it is definitely worth the effort. Just don’t think about the long slog back up!
The walls and keep of Dinan’s 14th-century castle are incredibly well preserved and circle almost all of the old town of Dinan. There is a museum and, for a fee, you can walk on the castle walls.
It’s a joy to walk through the streets of Dinan and, of course, you will find plenty of cafes and restaurants. Look out for the local food speciality, the Galette – a savoury pancake – and very tasty too!
St. Malo: A walled city with a pirate past
The walled town of St Malo is one of our favourite destinations in France. It’s worth spending a few days in St Malo before catching the ferry to Portsmouth.
Things to do in St. Malo
St Malo is a beautiful walled town made of granite and was once a stronghold for pirates.
- Visit the walled city: The walled city, known as La Ville Intra Muros, is the heart of St. Malo. It’s a great place to wander around and explore the cobbled streets, shops, and restaurants. Be sure to visit the St. Vincent Cathedral and the Château de St. Malo, a 17th-century castle that now houses a museum.
- Walk the ramparts: The ramparts that surround the walled city offer stunning views of the city and the surrounding coastline. You can walk the entire length of the ramparts, which takes about an hour.
- Visit the Grand Aquarium: The Grand Aquarium is a great place to learn about the marine life of the Brittany coast. It has a variety of exhibits, including a shark tank, a penguin enclosure, and a coral reef.
- Take a boat trip to the Grand Bé: The Grand Bé is a small island located just off the coast of St. Malo. It’s the final resting place of François-René de Chateaubriand, a famous French writer. You can take a boat trip to the island from St. Malo harbour.
- Relax on the beach: St. Malo has several beautiful beaches, including the Plage du Sillon and the Plage de Bon Secours. They’re perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching.
The highlight for us when we visit is a walk on the high walls where you get spectacular views of the town, the surprisingly good beaches and of the many small islands out to sea. I can also recommend a boat trip to the nearby islands. You will find a booking kiosk on the harbour side operated by Corsaire.
Food and drink in St Malo
St. Malo is a great place to enjoy fresh seafood. You must try the moules frites (mussels and fries) and the coquilles St. Jacques (scallops). There are also many restaurants that serve traditional Breton cuisine, such as buckwheat pancakes (galettes) and cider.
I can highly recommend Cafe Du Lion D’or which specialises in beef and fish but the choice of restaurants is amazing and you won’t go hungry!
Where to stay in St Malo with a motorhome
Parking Saint-Malo Feval P14 – EFFIA: This car park is located on the outskirts of the city and offers a dedicated area for motorhomes. It is also served by a free shuttle bus that takes you to the walled city. We like to stay at Parking Saint-Malo Feval which costs 7.50 Euros a night. It’s a huge car park with a service point over the road.
Aire de Camping-Cars Les Ilots: This motorhome aire was previously a campsite and is located just outside the walled city and offers a variety of facilities, including a service point, electricity and a washing machine.
Camping Domaine de la Ville Huchet is an excellent campsite that we have previously stayed at. It is located outside St Malo and you will need to use the bus to visit St Malo old town.
Top tips for visiting St Malo
- The best time to visit St. Malo is during the summer months, when the weather is warm and sunny. However, the city can be crowded during this time of year.
- St. Malo is a very walkable city so you won’t need a car. However, if you’re planning on visiting other attractions in the area, such as Mont Saint-Michel, it’s a good idea to rent a car.
- St. Malo is a popular tourist destination, so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid pickpocketing.
As you sail out of St Malo to Portsmouth on the ferry you will see many interesting islands including Jersey and the Isle of Wight. The last part of the journey into Portsmouth gives you a birds eye view of the city of Portsmouth including HMS Victory and you might also be lucky enough to see one of the UK’s new aircraft carriers – we were!