Saint-Malo (Sant-Maloù in
Breton) is a walled port city
in Brittany in northwestern
France on the English
Channel. It is a sous-
préfecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine
Saint-Malo has 50,000
inhabitants, but that number
can increase to up to 200,000 in the summer tourist season. With the suburbs included, the population is about 135,000.
Saint-Malo during the Middle Ages was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance River, controlling not only the estuary but the open sea beyond. The promontory fort of Aleth, south of the modern centre in what is now the Saint-Servan district, commanded approaches to the Rance even before the Romans, but modern Saint-Malo traces its origins to a monastic settlement founded by Saint Aaron and Saint Brendan early in the 6th century. Its name is derived from a man said to have been a follower of Brendan, Saint Malo.
Saint-Malo had a tradition of asserting its autonomy in dealings with the French authorities and even with the local Breton authorities. From 1590-1594, Saint-Malo declared itself to be an independent republic, taking the motto "not French, not Breton, but Malouins".
Saint-Malo became notorious as the home of the corsairs, French privateers and sometimes pirates. (In the nineteenth century the city's "piratical" notoriety was portrayed in Jean Richepin's play Le flibustier and in César Cui's like-named opera derived therefrom.) The corsairs of Saint-Malo not only forced English ships passing up the Channel to pay tribute, but also brought wealth from further afield. Jacques Cartier, who sailed the Saint Lawrence River and visited the sites of Quebec City and Montréal - and is thus credited as the discoverer of Canada, lived in and sailed from Saint-Malo, as did the first colonists to settle the Falklands – hence the islands' French name Îles Malouines, which gave rise to the Spanish name Islas Malvinas.
The commune of Saint-Servan was merged, together with Paramé, and became the commune of Saint-Malo in 1967.
Saint Malo was the site of an Anglo-French summit in 1998 which lead to a significant agreement regarding European defence policy. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac stated that "the [European] Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises".