Make summer last longer on Brittany’s islands
In the gentle September warmth or the sunshine of an Indian Summer, it’s the perfect time to play at being Robinson Crusoe. Whether you enjoy sailing, music, botany or gastronomy, steal some time from the cares of everyday life and spend it on one of the irresistible islands dotted along Brittany’s coastline.
1. Enjoy an Indian Summer with a getaway break on Belle-Île
The largest of the Breton islands has more than one trick up its sleeve! Belle-Île’s north-eastern coast is calm and serene, while its western side is wild and jagged; the variety of its landscapes is amazing. From 1 to 21 October 2017, you can choose a break designed by the tourist office: three days and two nights, from 98 euros per person, including a crossing from Quiberon to Le Palais, choice of accommodation and a cultural pass. All you have to do is enjoy walks along the coast paths, explore the Vauban Citadel, visit the fortress that used to be the home of the actress Sarah Bernhardt or climb to the dizzying heights of the huge lighthouse. For a relaxing end to your day, head to the harbour at Sauzon or Le Palais, sample the fish, seafood or Breton pancakes while you watch the ocean.
Details and prices at www.belle-ile.com
2. Sailing, walking and music in Bréhat
The ten-minute boat trip from the mainland to Bréhat seems strangely short when you see just how different your destination looks. There are no cars here; you can only get around by bike or on foot. This is the perfect pace for enjoying this island of flowers and rose-coloured rocks, as you stroll or cycle along one of its five trails. Or maybe you’d rather be led by the island’s only guide, Jean-Michel. He’s a storyteller and musician who will give you an introduction to this magical island’s history, mythology and everyday life. Whether sailing is in your blood or you’re a complete beginner, you can explore the 1001 twists and turns of this archipelago under the guidance of a watersports centre instructor. If you’re a music-lover, then you’re in luck, because this year "Les Insulaires" music festival is taking place on the island during the last weekend in September.
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3. Ushant, lighthouses and Ilophone festival
The island of Ushant (Ouessant in French) is the last stop before America and needs no introduction! To explore this incredible site, you can join one of the trips offered in September as part of the “Westward to the Lighthouses” programme ("Les phares complètement à l'ouest"). When you step aboard theFinisterrae, you can experience the day-to-day life of a sea-going fisherman intent on preserving the natural resources of a wild, untamed and protected environment. At night you can learn to read the language of the lights shining out from the fifteen or so lighthouses that stand sentinel in the Iroise Sea. You can listen to the stories of the lighthouses: the Stiff, Créach, Kéréon or Jument. In mid-September, make sure you take a trip to Lampaul, where for three days the Ilophone Festival gets feet tapping to the rhythm of the music.
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4. Groix, a shifting, convex beach and geological treasures
Once you’ve landed on the island, head for the Grands Sables beach. It has an unusual convex shape, pointing out into the sea. Every year, driven by the wind and currents, it shifts several tens of metres. Another curious feature of the beach is the huge variety of rocks. There are more than 60 different minerals, 400 million years old, and some of them are very rare. This is why Groix is home to one of France’s premier natural geological reserves. In the village you can visit a museum devoted to the local geology or join a guided tour to discover the flora, fauna and rocks of this island of garnets. You can also test your agility in “Le Parcabout” Adventure Park and afterwards you could spend a the night with a difference in a canvas nest hanging up in the trees, ten metres above ground! If you fancy a bit of exploring you could try an excursion on an electric bike, accommodation included: you follow a quiet, peaceful route taking in all 17 villages of this amazing island.
Find out more :
- François Le Bail natural geological reserve
- Le Parcabout
- Séjour clé en main "Bretagne sans ma voiture" : En randonnée sur l'île de Groix
5.Batz, botanical curiosities and an encounter with seals
Why not start by touring the island or exploring Morlaix Bay, with a stopover at the fortress known as the Château du Taureau (which means “bull’s castle”)? Landing at Batz, head for the Georges Delaselle gardens. This lovely collection of exotic flora will take you from California to Australia and Chile to South Africa by way of its collection of 2,000 species, which were patiently collected from the end of the 19th century by a businessman with a passion for botany. Getting more active, it’s impossible to resist “swimming with grey seals”, a really special encounter in a marine conservation area. For accommodation, you could choose the friendliness of the youth hostel or the comfort of the hotel, Les Herbes Folles, located in a large mansion just a short walk from the landing-stage.
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