What will become of the famous breakwaters of the large beach?


Some of the breakwaters protecting the Saint-Malo dyke must be replaced. – C. Allain / 20 Minutes

  • In Saint-Malo, 500 breakwaters must be replaced due to their advanced degradation.
  • Their future is still uncertain. The city would like to sell them, but the law prohibits it since they do not belong to it.
  • Erected in 1830, these stony oak stakes were to protect the dike from the waves that hit it.

They are part of the landscape and have stood proudly for decades in the sand, a few meters from the dike they must protect. In Saint-Malo, breakwaters are essential. Erected on the immense beach of the corsair city, these stems of stony oak were planted there a little less than 200 years ago by the Ponts et Chaussées. Their mission? Limit the impact of waves hitting the coast and preserve the dike protecting the first dwellings, located a few meters away. On stormy days, they slow down the powerful swell of the English Channel, without removing the charm of the spectacle of the waves scaling the coast.

State property, the dike must be ceded to Saint-Malo Agglomeration, as part of a transfer of skills in the fight against floods. But before passing the baby on, the state needs to groom and fix everything. A thousand breakwaters will be removed. Half will be patched up and put back in place, and 500 other brand new piles will replace the more fragile ones.

“They must absolutely serve a cause of general interest”

In recent months and the announcement of this major project, the future of the most damaged breakwaters has been pending. The mayor of Saint-Malo wanted to sell them, but they are not his. “These breakwaters have the legal status of protecting the dike. They will have to be downgraded first, ”warns Vincent Lagoguey, sub-prefect of Saint-Malo. His administration, with the agreement of Minister Bruno Lemaire, agreed to cede part of these 500 stakes to the city free of charge. “But the law forbids them to resell them. They must absolutely serve a cause of general interest, ”continues the sub-prefect. “I think we have to preserve them all, even the damaged ones. They are part of the heritage of Saint-Malo and must remain there, ”warns the mayor, Gilles Lurton.

Some of the breakwaters protecting the Saint-Malo dyke must be replaced. Some could be ceded to the city. – C. Allain / 20 Minutes

The latter has already indicated that he would use part of it to dress the city and carry out some exterior fittings. But he would also have liked that residents, business leaders or artists could buy breakwaters. A way to keep the trunks in the corsair city and to return a few thousand euros. “I had a lot of requests. There are foundations that were very interested and able to contribute money. I had the hope that this could be used for the renovation of the heritage of the city. We could have carried out work on the ramparts, for example, ”explains Gilles Lurton.

Prevent them from becoming garden gnomes

An inhabitant of the corsair city has even launched a petition denouncing the potential sale of bicentennial trunks, in order to prevent them from being transformed “into a garden gnome”. His idea ? “Offer a second public life to these parts of history by grouping them into battalions erected for all to see”. The retiree offers “a small forest of breakwaters in the future museum of maritime history”, or “a path on the station square to welcome the traveler”.

The question of the future of breakwaters is not yet settled. “We have not yet found a legal solution. The State could well sell them but the collected money would come back to him, warns the sub-prefect. Which is not really to the mayor’s taste. “If the state organizes a sale, it will have to sell them to the highest bidder. And nothing says that they will stay in Saint-Malo. Or that the money will come back to us, ”regrets the elected official.

The replacement of these piles will be carried out after the summer, as will the reinforcement of the dike. Work valued at 2.7 million euros, to which must be added the redevelopment of the road, where a two-way cycle path will be established. With a breathtaking view of the breakwaters.



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