A natural wonder
At 4.3 miles (7 km) long by 1.8 miles (3 km) wide, Île de Groix is Brittany’s second largest island after Belle-Île and lies 8.7 miles (14km) off the coast of Lorient. Once a major centre for tuna fishing, Groix is now noted for its lovely (and unusual) beaches and its important concentration of minerals.
The main drag
Ferries from Lorient take around 45 minutes to arrive at Port Tudy, Groix’s main town. The port was France’s main centre for tuna fishing from 1870-1940 and you can find out about the industry’s fascinating history at the Ecomusée. The museum traces the island’s history from the Bronze Age covering all aspects of the inhabitants’ lives from birth to death.
About half a mile uphill from the port is Groix’s main village. It’s best to wander around the streets admiring the colourful houses before stopping off in the market (Tuesday and Saturday) to buy some supplies for a picnic; don’t miss the church, whose bell tower has a tuna on top.
On your bike
The best way to see Groix is on two feet or two wheels: bicycles can be hired in the village. More than 25 miles (40km) of cycle paths will take you over moorland, alongside ancient megaliths, past the soaring cliffs of the Trou de Tonnère (thunder hole) and the Trou d’Enfer (hell hole) to hidden coves and beautiful sandy beaches.
An unusual beach
Groix’s most famous stretch of sand is the Plages des Grandes Sables in the east of the island. According to islanders, it’s the only convex beach in Europe and its tip moves each year due to opposing currents. South of here are Les Sables Rouges, an attractive succession of sandy coves.
About 116 acres in the west of the island have been a nature reserve since 1982 and are split into two areas. The section around the Pointe des Chats is of great geological importance; more than 60 different minerals can be found here including the rare greenish blue glaucophane. Pen Men-Beg Melen meanwhile, whose cliffs are carpeted with grass, is known for its colonies of marine birds. The Maison de la Réserve offers guided tours in French in summer.
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