The Île aux Moines and the Gulf of Morbihan
A great gulf
In the temperate south of Brittany, the Gulf of Morbihan has been described as one of the most beautiful bays in the world. From Locmariaquer and its ancient stones in the west, taking in the walled town of Vannes, on to the Rhuys Peninsula in the east, the gulf has something for all tastes.
The most unusual feature of the gulf is its islands; there are around 42. Many are owned by celebrities but the two largest, Île aux Moines and Île d’Arz, are favourite tourist destinations in summer. The cross-shaped Île aux Moines offers scenic walks around its 4 miles (7km) coast while Arz has lovely creeks and coves to enjoy a dip. One of the most popular activities is to take a boat trip around the gulf from Vannes, however, many visitors take the boat from Larmor-Baden to see the island of Gavrinis, probably the most impressive megalithic site in Brittany, whose long stone passageway is adorned with carvings.
the Gulf of Morbihan is rich in megalithic sites, nowhere more so than Locmariaquer. On the outskirts of this unremarkable village are three very impressive constructions: Le Grand Menhir, now on the ground in four pieces, is the largest stone ever erected in prehistoric Europe; the Table des Marchands stone burial chamber has engravings similar to those at Gavrinis and Er Grah is a 500ft (140m)-long tumulus.
The lovely walled town of Vannes is a must on any visit to the gulf. Take a walk around the narrow, cobbled streets, through the medieval gates, before settling down for lunch at a café alongside the attractive marina. If you’re with the kids, head down to the Parc du Golfe for a look around the aquarium and Jardin aux Papillons (butterfly garden). The town is the hub of activities during the biennial Semaine du Golfe sailing festival (next one 2011).
On the east side of the gulf is the Rhuys Peninsula, whose most popular attraction besides the seaside resort of Arzon is the 13th-century Château du Suscinio, one-time hunting lodge of the Dukes of Brittany, where they hold outdoor musical evenings in summer.