By the late 17th century, the wealth accumulated by Saint-Malo's ship-builders, captains and merchants gave rise to a new way of life. The manor houses and estates that dotted the countryside near the city were replaced by country homes that were large but not ostentatious. It became fashionable to spend one's holidays outside of the city, in a comfortable dwelling at the end of a tree-lined drive and surrounded by walls, with gardens that occasionally served to supply the table with food.
These deliberately plain structures were square or rectangular in shape, to which lateral wings were sometimes added. They were built with granite from Chausey and shale rubble faced with lime. They stood in contrast to the public buildings and private townhouses, also made of granite, that were being built at that time inside the walls of Saint-Malo, under the impetus of the royal engineer Jean-Siméon Garangeau, and later Michel Marion. The layout of these houses and the philosophy behind them were sufficiently characteristic of Saint-Malo that they quickly became known as malouinières. Evidence of this term can be found as of the early 18th century.