These seven elusive, rarely inhabited islands lie about as many kilometres north of the exceptionally popular Côte de Granit Rose, but few humans set foot on them. Monks tried to establish a foothold, but gave up. The main occupants are the seabirds that congregate here to nest in vast numbers.
Swinging into action to save the birds
One Breton writer beautifully described these round-backed islands as so many whales lurking out to sea. It was the hunting to near-extinction of puffins on Les Sept-Îles that spurred the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, the French society for the protection of birds, into existence and action in the early 20th century. The delightful birds with their big bright beaks became the emblem of the association.
Seven islands for more than seven rare species
Puffins aren’t the only exceptional seabirds to be found here; the archipelago attracts a phenomenal number of birds that otherwise rarely nest in France. The place has been made a national reserve to ensure their protection. From spring through to September, one side of the Île Rouzic turns white as snow with the sheer density of gannets that gather to reproduce. It’s the only place where these splendid marine birds nest in France. The puffins are to be found at home on the archipelago for a shorter season, from spring to July normally. Guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes and manx shearwaters count among other of the many species that thrive here. There’s also a small colony of grey seals, although they’re hugely outnumbered by the birds.
An awesome avian show
You can join a boat tour either from Perros-Guirec or Port-Blanc to get close to the archipelago. It makes for an amazing sight to see the teeming bird metropolis. As to the screeching, it’s louder than at any street market you’ve ever been to. All the avian activity is truly awesome. Sometimes, you’re allowed to land on l’Île aux Moines. As its name indicates, this was the island where monks had a go at living in the late medieval period, but the difficult environment put them off. It’s clear to see that birds are properly in charge here.
Did you know?
The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux has a centre you can visiton the western end of the Côte de Granit Rose, on l’Île Grande.
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