Roscoff and île de Batz

An exotic gem

Picture 1 Roscoff and île de Batz Picture 2 Roscoff and île de Batz Picture 3 Roscoff and île de Batz Picture 4 Roscoff and île de Batz Picture 5 Roscoff and île de Batz Picture 6 Roscoff and île de Batz

A 15-minute boat ride from Roscoff, the Île de Batz (pronounced ‘ba’) is a hidden gem that is worth seeking out. The main attraction is its exotic garden but there are also some lovely beaches, leisurely walks and great views from the top of the lighthouse.

Temperate climes

Most visitors make a beeline for the Jardin Exotique Georges Delaselle in the southeast of the island. Created between 1897 and 1937 by a Parisian businessman, the garden has more than 2,000 species of plants from all five continents and boasts a superb collection of palm trees – all of which flourish thanks to the island’s position in the Gulf Stream. There is also a Bronze Age burial site within the grounds, which was unearthed by Delaselle.

Pardon me

A short walk north of here is the Chapelle Ste-Anne, named after the patron saint of the island’s sailors; Batz has around 600 inhabitants, most of whom make their living from fishing or farming (mainly potatoes and cauliflower). The chapel, which dates from the 11th century, is now in ruins but comes alive during the last weekend of July when an open-air pardon takes place to celebrate the saint.

Unspoilt beaches

Northwest of the chapel are the white sands and clear waters of the island’s loveliest beach, Grève Blanche. There are small, attractive, unspoilt beaches all round the island, which measures just 2.2 miles (3.5km) by 0.9 miles (1.5km), but there’s more to do for active sorts. Stroll around the village before buying supplies for a picnic and hiring a bike to explore the car-free island on two wheels.

From the lighthouse

Head west to the 19th century lighthouse, which is 144 foot (44m) high and 223 foot (68m) above sea level. It’s open to the public from June to September and if you’ve got enough energy, climb the 198 steps to the top for 360-degree views over the island and coastline.

Snakes and dragons

At the wild western tip of Batz is the Trou du Serpent (snake’s hole). The name refers to the place, where, according to legend, St Pol cast a dragon, which was terrorising the island, into the sea. Stop and eat your picnic if you dare.

Did you know?

One of the island’s main activities is collecting seaweed, which is sold to pharmaceutical, food-processing and cosmetics companies.

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