The archipelago is made up of nine main islands and many islets, in the middle of which is a lagoon renowned for the clarity of its water and the whiteness of its sands; in fact, the area has been described as ‘the Breton Tahiti’.
The main island
The Glénans are very popular with daytrippers as there are daily ferries in season from Loctudy, Bénodet, Concarneau and Beg-Meil. The boats arrive at the main island, Saint Nicolas, where you’ll find a couple of restaurants as well as the international diving school and France’s smallest nature reserve, which was founded in 1974 to protect the Glénan Narcissus; the small white flower carpets the island in April. In the 19th century, one of the island’s inhabitants was France’s largest breeder of lobsters and langoustines.
You can walk to Bananec Island from Saint-Nicolas at low tide when a ribbon of sand appears. This isle is inhabited by the internationally renowned not-for-profitsailing school, which runs courses for adults and teenagers of all levels in English as well as French. Trainee sailors are housed in a 1960s building; construction on the islands is no longer allowed and accommodation is scarce.
A lighthouse and a semaphore can be found on Penfret Island while Île Cigogne is instantly recognisable by its fort, which was built in 1756 to keep English pirates out of the lagoon; both islands are rented by the sailing school. Halfway between the archipelago and the coast is the Île aux Moutons, which has an automated lighthouse and is a known nesting ground for two types of sterns.
The islands are part of the commune of Fouesnant, a mainland family resort with some lovely long sandy beaches, including Kérambigorn, which has a Blue Flag. The town hosts the apple-tree festival each July.