© JP Guillerez
Set sail for les Sept‑Iles on a traditional sailing shipLes Sept Iles ‘up close and personal’
Brittany Experience

Set sail for les Sept‑Iles on a traditional sailing ship

”Cast off all lines”, you’ll hear, as you breathe in the wind of adventure aboard the Saint Guirec, a magnificent traditional-style sailing ship. The crew’s friendly welcome is sure to help you get your sea legs – Manu, the Captain, Laurence and little Malo’s smiles put everyone at ease, from the novice sailor to the most hardened seafarer. So why not embark on a voyage of discovery to Les Sept-Iles (the Seven Isles) and explore their many secret treasures.

Heave ho!

As soon as we leave the port, we’re at work with the halyard, hoisting the jigger sail: we have to pull on the ropes to raise the stern sail. What we lack in crewing experience, we make up for in good intentions. The rust and caramel coloured sails of this replica of a 1920s crayfishing vessel are a perfect match for the green hull. The boat’s dynamic skipper, Laurence, gives us our first notions of sailing. What a great feeling it is to be at the helm, with your eyes fixed proudly on the horizon. The ship looks fantastic with its long straight bow.

Coffee break with breathtaking views

We’ve completed our first manoeuvres and Malo, the youngest crew member, tells us it’s time for coffee and madeleines, amidst the most fabulous scenery and out on the ocean waves. We get acquainted with the other members of our ‘crew-for-a-day’. The Saint-Guirec (Sant C’hireg in Breton) glides over the waves and whisks us towards the islands of Bono, Malban, Rouzic, Ile Plate, Ile aux Moines, Les Costans and Le Cerf. Our seafaring guides point them out to us one by one. On our port side, we can see cormorants perched on the rocky outcrops to dry their wings.

Unusual birds at close range !

Almost half the Isle of Bono is white. Could it be an unusual colour of rock? Or bird guano? In fact it’s neither! It’s actually the huge number of gannets living on the island that make it look white from a distance, with some 20,000 couples nesting in the cliffs there. We can get really close to them on our cutter: with the engine slowed right down, we are privileged to be able to observe the birds from close up. Laurence tells us that they have “heated feet” and an “air bag” on their head, and that they dive from heights of 20-30m. She also tells us about the young bird’s formidable maiden flight and the incredible faithfulness of mated pairs – they really are quite amazing birds! To the south of the island, we come face to beak with a species of puffin, or ‘bohanig’ in the Breton tongue. Armed with our binoculars, we admire their black and white plumage and red beaks. These wonderful birds were hunted for a long time, until, in 1912, their near extinction led to the setting up of the French League for the Protection of Birds and the creation of the Sept Îles bird sanctuary, now the biggest in France: 120 puffin couples currently enjoy this protected area alongside other unusual species. What will the next surprise be? We look to starboard and see four grey seals lounging on a rock. Two of them slide down into the water. We’re incredibly lucky to catch a glimpse of them.

An encounter with history

We call into the port of Ile aux Moines and moor up alongside another traditional sailing ship, the Ar Jentilez. A number of rather comical incidents, caused by the extremely low tide, make our landing more entertaining! After lunching with a view of the Pink Granite coast, we discover that the island’s tower offers superb views. Laurence, who is very fond of the area, tells us how five islands became the Seven Isles, and how Gallic monks conquered the coast’s inhabitants. There’s a real sense of adventure and history in the air.
Back on the boat, Manu fishes for plankton and offers us an unprecedented observation with a binocular magnifying glass… how lucky we are! The captain reminds us that these microscopic organisms produce 50% of the oxygen in the air we breathe.
But the tide tells us it is time to leave. Stronger winds make the boat to go faster, increasing our excitement as it heels over more and more. With sea salt on our skin and our heads filled with pictures, we slowly pass through the tide gate. We clap our hands in delight and admiration as we re-enter the wet dock. This has been a truly unforgettable trip out to sea, amidst the most marvellous heritage.


We clap our hands in delight and admiration as we re-enter the wet dock.

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Per person

This Experience includes

  • A day’s voyage to the Sept-Iles, aboard the Saint Guirec

Language spoken : English

Practical information

  • A day trip from Perros-Guirec – Bring a picnic and warm clothing

For more than 30 years, the Sant C’hireg has sailed around the Sept-Iles thanks to Denis Le Bras, architect and builder of this magnificent sailboat in 1986.

Denis is retiring today ! Manu and Laurence take back the helm of the boat.

Official website of tourism in Brittany
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