The is­land sits on the hori­zon like an in­vi­ta­tion to ex­plore

Yachting Monthly - - A LONG WEEKEND -

where the Al­lies un­leashed a veritable hell­fire in Au­gust 1944, drop­ping more than 20,000 bombs. The Ger­man troops gave up in the end but only be­cause they ran out of wa­ter.

It was glassy calm as we headed out and, rather than mo­tor all the way to Ile de Cézem­bre, we de­cided to head to Le Fort île Har­bour, one-and-a-half miles west of St Malo. Like Ile de Cézem­bre, the is­land was for­ti­fied by King Louis XIV against the ma­raud­ing Bri­tish, although it doesn’t seem to have suf­fered as badly dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Af­ter the con­flict, it was turned into a pri­vate prop­erty and in the 1970s, was owned by French film star Alain Délon. We an­chored and rafted up the two boats on the south­west side of the is­land to have our pic­nic — we had brought a rather ex­pen­sive bot­tle of English white wine for the oc­ca­sion, which was greeted with a cer­tain amount of amuse­ment. By the time we headed back to St Malo, an off­shore breeze had sprung up and the bay was dot­ted with sail­boats of all sizes. The sun was shin­ing, and St Malo seemed to hover over the hori­zon like a mi­rage. It was a per­fect af­ter­noon and rather than head straight back to Port des Sablons, we tacked out to sea again, past the is­land of Grand Bé and Petit Bé, off the walls of St Malo, and out to­wards Ile de Cézem­bre be­fore re­luc­tantly head­ing back into har­bour.

It was only later I dis­cov­ered the wa­ters we had been sail­ing across were once fields — the Prairies de Cézem­bre — where live­stock once grazed un­til an earth­quake low­ered the ground level in around 1160. In­deed, Le Phare de Grand Jardin — lit­er­ally, ‘light­house of big gar­den’— which marks the west­ern ap­proach to the chan­nel and now lies two miles off­shore, was once the mouth of the River Rance: 900 years ear­lier, we would have been sail­ing amongst cat­tle!

Beau­ti­ful scenery, fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory and a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of crois­sants – St Malo re­ally has it all.

ABOVE: An­chor off the pri­vate is­land of Fort Har­bour, the ideal lunch spot. See more of these boats at www.grand­largue.fr Two beaches at Cézem­bre make it an ideal spot for es­cap­ing the crowds

BE­LOW: Cézem­bre has just one restau­rant

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