Off the coast of Paimpol is Ile Bréhat, one of Brittany’s loveliest islands. In actual fact, Bréhat consists of several islets around two small, car-free islands, which are joined by a bridge at low tide. It is easily accessible by a regular 10-minute boat journey from Pointe de l’Arcouest.
Hub of activity
Ferries arrive at Port-Clos on the south island, where many visitors choose to hire bikes before heading the short distance to the island’s main village, Le Bourg. The hub of activity is the main square, which is thronged with hotels, restaurants and cafes and hosts a regular market.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the micro-climate allows many Mediterranean plants to flourish here such as palm trees, eucalyptus, agapanthus, hydrangeas and geraniums, which enhance the beautifully tended gardens of the pretty stone cottages and villas; many are holiday homes owned by Parisians. Bréhat also attracts its fair share of birds including gulls and cormorants as well as 270 pairs of puffins, which nest among the pink rocks.
There’s plenty more to do on Bréhat than cycle or amble around the lanes and paths. The old fort, next to the island’s only campsite, is now home to the Verreries de Bréhat, where visitors can marvel at glassblowers at work and maybe even have a go themselves. Alternatively, visit the Birlot tidal mill. Built in the 17th century, it was restored in the 1990s thanks to a group of locals and now there are often demonstrations of buckwheat being ground when the tide goes out (twice a day); the miller opens the sluice gate and water from the adjacent lagoon turns the wheel. If you’re just looking to relax and catch some rays, the best beach is Grève du Guerzido, opposite the mainland.
The north island is smaller and wilder with rolling moorland and rocky outcrops and it’s here that you’ll find the best coastal walks. It’s here too that you’ll come across Bréhat’s two lighthouses: Paon in the north east and Rosédo in the north west.
Did you know?
Bréhat has 438 permanent inhabitants and 833 houses, of which only 195 are main residences.
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