Harbour at Isle de Houat in Brittany, France

A boat trip to the Islands off Brittany in France

When we visited Brittany this summer, we took the ferry to Isle de Houat, just of the coast of the Gulf of Morbihan. The Gulf is a large inland bay with many small islands, where the mild and sheltered conditions make it a favourite area for sailors.

Harbour at Isle de Houat in Brittany, France

Harbour at Isle de Houat in Brittany, France

One of my Europe travel tips, if you’re visiting this part of the French coast is to take a day-trip to one of these islands where you’ll find peace and tranquility, beautiful unspoilt beaches and perhaps a few small cafes or restaurants, serving the local seafood for which Brittany is famous. On many of the islands, you”ll also find campsites, small hotels or holiday homes to rent, in case you want to stay a few days and relax.

Vannes is an excellent starting point for this kind of trip, although there are other ports along the coast where you can take the ferry, such as Quiberon and La Trinite-sur-Mer. Here are some of the islands you can visit;

Fishermens cottages on Isle de Houat in Brittany

Fishermens cottages on Isle de Houat in Brittany

Belle-Ile-en Mer is outside the Gulf of Morbihan and is the largest of the Breton islands with a sunny, mild climate, thanks to the Gulf stream. On the side facing the mainland, you’ll find golden sandy beaches, while towards the open sea, the landscape is wild with craggy cliffs and crashing waves. Belle Isle was a favourite of painters such as Matisse and Monet. In the island’s capital, Le Palais, there’s a 19th century military fortress overlooking the port.

Isle de Houat is ideal for walking with several different beaches, some sandy and others with rocks and and pools where you can find oysters and mussels on the rocks. We had fun fishing for crabs, although we only caught tiddlers and had to buy some from the fishermen on the way home to cook for supper. There were pretty old granite fishermen’s’ cottages that are used as holiday homes and a few small cafes and restaurants around the port.

Looking for crabs on Isle de Houat, Brittany

Looking for crabs on Isle de Houat, Brittany

Isle aux Moines is within the Gulf of Morbihan and relatively accessible, and is the best known and most densely populated in the Gulf islands. You’ll find excellent walking as well as cycle trails here and beautiful old fishermens’ cottages. It’s nickname is the Pearl of the Gulf.

L’Ile d’Arz is also within the Gulf and is a rural and lush green island with several bays and a large number of beaches. There’s a coastal path that allows you to walk right around the island.

If you want to take a day trip to one of these Breton islands, I highly recommend that you book both the outward and return journey in advance, especially at weekends and high season. Try the ferry companies listed below to help you research your day trip – consult the ferry times and start planning your day on one of these lovely Breton Islands;

For further information try

Navix
Companie des Iles
For booking your ferry tickets you can also try Billets-Bateaux

All photos by Heatheronhertravels