You are currently visiting the region of Bretagne and its beautiful Emerauld coast? You wish to know more about atypical places full of history? This is absolutely perfect, as we have exactly you want! Spend your day on Cézembre’s island, close to Saint-Malo, and which will have all that you need to stir up your huge curiosity. Indeed… this island has known one of the worse bombing in Europe during the 2nd World War…
Follow me, I’m taking you on a tour through its history 😉 !
1- The geography of Cezembre’s island
First of all, know that the island of Cézembre is located around 4km from the old town of Saint-Malo (Intra-Muros). Its ideal location offers a panoramic view on the Bay, from Cancale to the Cap Fréhel! It is also known as one of the biggest island of the Bay of Saint-Malo!
The German from the war 39-45, understood it, that’s why they settled on this island, as to make sure to notice the English Allies arriving to Saint-Malo! Aaah the clever guys…
Back in time, this little island was linked to the continent, but the sea then slowly submerged it. It officially became an island in the mid’ of the XVcentury.
Cézembre was populated from the neolithic time! And as you may have guessed, it then became a celtic territory… We attributed it the title of stronghold, which is why its original name: “Segisamabriga”, or “the most powerful fortified height” … impressing isn’t it?
Before the german arrived, this little island was only made of rocks, a beach and moor…
Then the war happened…
2- Cezembre during the 2nd World War
Over the decades, or even previous centuries, Cézembre was used many times or as a stronghold during various wars, or as steps to put under quarantine sick people or suspicious goods before they landed in Saint-Malo. It was also used as a military camp and even welcomed a monastery and its monks!
In 1939, french people began to rearm this little island… but they quickly abandoned their initiative. A year later, in june 1940, it’s Germans turn to take over Cézembre! They strongly fortified it, and thus while having the goal to stop the British ships arriving in Bretagne.
4 years later, in august 1944, Cézembre’s island was the target of English battleship, of the American land artillery, and mainly of Allied bombers. It’s a total of overs 20 000 bombs, especially napalm, but also phosphorus, that the whole island was ravaged!
The german succeded in resisting during a month, and it’s in september 1944 that they surrended, counting 90% wounded in their ranks…
The Allies still saluted their bravery when landing on the island!
So in a nutshell, know that this infamous island is now consided as one of the most affected in Europe by the war… 10 of its 11 hectares are still classifed as red zone and military territory! Yes… it still probably has loads of bombs buried in the ground…
The After-War saw demining campaigns take over Cézembre… For now, only the beach is now cleared and entirely secured… So, be aware of yourself and don’t walk over the marked path or the beach!
3- Cezembre’s island, or its attractions
Let’s now talk about the beach of this particular island… aaah the beach… with fine and soft sand, perfect to come and have a rest on it… furthermore it’s the only beach of all the Ille-et-Vilaine department that is exposed full south!!
Lots of our locals are chosing to spend their day on the island of Cézembre!
But keep in mind that there ain’t any shelter to hide from the sun, or the rain…
Close by the beach, you can also find a restaurant. The only of the island, and perfect if hunger is inviting itself to your stomach! Specially after hours of sun tanning and swimming in the English Channel (“Manche” in french) . You can also consider taking a pic-nic with you, if the idea of a restaurant isn’t to your liking… and don’t forget the water!!
Finally, from the beach, the island has a path of 800m, created now a few years ago. Entirely marked, it takes you through Cézembre, and you can even notice craters from bombs of the war; there are over 2000… The blockhouses and cannons, witnesses of this painful past, are also still there.
The war greatly damaged the flora… but concerning the wildlife, the birds got back to this now unhabited island. You can also notice rare species of the region: the Guillemot de Troïl and the Pinguin Torda!
While walking, be aware of yourself! The birds can be intimidating towards humans…
4- How to get there
- To come and spend the day on Cézembre’s island, the first solution is to come with your own boat… more pleasant and free! 😉
- Otherwise, the Corsaire Company provides connections from Dinard or St Malo almost every day during season! The price is 16,20eur for adults, and 9,70 for children. They leave the port of Intra-Muros around 12:10, 12:40. The return is around 18:20 from Cézembre! 🙂
- Or there are taxi boats, that can take you further on the Bay of Saint Malo 🙂
We got ready for you a treasure hunt for your visit of Intra-Muros in Saint-Malo! Click here 😉
If you want to know how to do to visit the island of Jersey from Saint-Malo, it’s here!
In: Full day trip