Belle-Île is 9 miles (15km) off the coast of the Gulf of Morbihan in France and is Brittany’s largest island.
Belle-Île means quite literally a “Beautiful Isle at Sea”
When the island naming committee met around the campfire a few centuries ago I suspect it was a very brief discussion. “We live on a beautiful island and it’s in the sea . . . . . . . I know let’s just call it that!”. I have to say it does not disappoint!
Belle-Île itself has had a turbulent history including occupation by the British, but the ‘beautiful isle’ is now a magnet for tourists and its 60 gorgeous beaches, of which we only managed to see around 10, are simply stunning.
Belle Ile is just off the south coast of Brittany in France not too far from Vannes and Auray. We caught the ferry from Quiberon on a bright sunny morning with a heat wave forecast for the next 3 days. We parked our car in one of the large park and ride car parks on the edge of Quiberon. We did not book parking in advance but understand in the peak months it’s advisable to do so. There are frequent free busses that deliver you straight to the ferry terminal from most of the car parks (Ferry Booking info: http://www.compagnie-oceane.fr/reservation/?rub_code=53).
After about 45 minutes of Uno and Battleships on the boat we arrived in the very picturesque town of Le Palais with its historic fort overlooking the harbour. There are plenty of restaurants and shops as well as a nearby beach. Combined with a visit to the fort many people just stay for the day.
Rather than take our own car onto the island we had the use of an electric car for the three days we were there and took full advantage of it, exploring what is quite simply a “beautiful island at sea”. You can take your own car but space is very limited and as far as I could see getting on and off the ferry required a reasonable amount of courage and advanced level parking skills! We picked the car up from Locatourisle Voitures at the end of the ferry ramp and headed to drop the bags at the hotel then off to explore.
We stayed at the Cardinal Hotel at the western end of the island just outside the small port of Sauzon. The hotel has great views across the cliffs out to sea and is one of the few on the island with a swimming pool. Perfect for our three-little fish. We had a family room with a balcony which had a double and three singles beds in an adjoining room which was ideal for us. We dropped the bags, packed the beach bag and headed out via the boulangerie in Sauzon to buy some picnic stuff for the beach. They sell frozen bottles of water to keep the food and you cool as well.
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