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Belle-ile en mer - complete guide for your getaway

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May 16, 2024


Belle-île en mer – complete guide for your getaway


Are you dreaming of an escape to an island nestled in Brittany, where the splendour of nature blends with a rich and omnipresent culture? Would you like to explore a diverse heritage, stroll along picturesque coastal paths, dive into unspoilt coves, savor local delicacies and meet friendly locals? Look no further: Belle-ile-en-Mer is your ideal destination!

This complete guide is dedicated to helping you discover the charms of this pearl of Morbihan, nestled in the heart of Southern Brittany. We will provide you with all the necessary information to plan an unforgettable stay in Belle-île-en-Mer, highlighting the must-do activities and leisure activities to experience.

Whether you’re looking for family adventures, a romantic moment as a couple, a trip with friends or a solitary getaway, Belle-île-en-Mer promises enriching experiences for everyone.

Are you ready to be seduced by Belle-île-en-Mer, so aptly named? Let us guide you!

Discover Belle-île-en-Mer: a Breton jewel

Belle-île-en-Mer stands out for its rich history that spans more than 700,000 years, from prehistoric times to contemporary times. This Breton island is famous for its diverse and breathtaking landscapes, having been the muse of many artists over the ages.

It is also known for its exceptional biodiversity, home to both rare and protected species.

A bit of history

The history of the island dates back to the Paleolithic, when its first inhabitants left behind flint tools. During the Celtic era, it was known as Vindilis, which means “beautiful island” in Gaulish. Over the centuries, the island has seen a succession of Romans, Vikings, English and French, leaving a rich heritage including fortifications, churches and mills.

The island has experienced periods of prosperity, stimulated by fishing, agriculture, trade and tourism, but has also gone through difficult times marked by wars, epidemics, storms and fires.

The must-see landscapes

Belle-île-en-Mer is a real festival of landscapes, offering a grandiose spectacle between land and sea. The wild coast seduces with its impressive cliffs, its rocks shaped by erosion, and emblematic sites such as the Aiguilles de Port Coton and the Pointe des Poulains. The large lighthouse also remains a favourite site for lovers of maritime panoramas.

The sunny coast is ideal for enjoying the fine sandy beaches, secret coves and colourful ports, including Sauzon. The Vauban Citadel, overlooking the city of Palais, is another gem not to be missed. Inland, you will be charmed by moors, dunes, wooded valleys and picturesque villages.

Specific fauna and flora

Protected under Natura 2000, the island is home to exceptional fauna and flora. You may be lucky enough to observe seabirds such as gulls, cormorants or petrels, as well as reptiles such as the green lizard and the orvet. The island is also a refuge for specific insects, such as the swallowtail butterfly or the ladybug, and mammals, including rabbits, foxes and seals. Botany lovers will be enchanted by rare and endemic plants, such as the wandering heather or the Greek toadflax.

In the surrounding waters, you can discover valuable marine ecosystems, such as eelgrass beds, schools of maerl, barnacles or algae.

Organize your stay in Belle-île-en-Mer

Looking for a memorable holiday in Belle-île-en-Mer but lost in planning? From arrival on the island, through accommodation to travel, we give you the best advice for a perfect stay in this jewel of Brittany.

How to get there: Transportation options

The seaway is the main means of access to Belle-île-en-Mer. From Quiberon, embark with the Compagnie Océane for a direct connection to the Port du Palais, the heart of the island, in 45 minutes. In summer, prefer the Kerdonis speedboat to transport only pedestrians to Sauzon in just 30 minutes.

From the land, the train to Auray or Vannes, followed by a bus to the ferry terminal, is a viable option. The boats of the Navix Company reach the island from Vannes, Locmariaquer, or Port Navalo, offering an exclusive pedestrian crossing in the heart of the Gulf of Morbihan in 1h30.

For aviation enthusiasts, Bangor airfield welcomes private or rented flights, with land connections available from Nantes or Rennes to the boarding points.

Where to stay: hotels, B&Bs and campsites

Whether you are looking for a charming hotel, a quiet rental, a welcoming bed and breakfast or a lively campsite, Belle-ile-en-Mer will satisfy all desires. Explore the offers on the Tourist Office website or contact the owners directly to find the ideal accommodation. Book early, especially during peak season, to guarantee your dream stay.

Getting around the island: bike rental, car rental and public transport

The island allows great freedom of movement, whether you are driving a personal car or renting it. Travel the roads with ease, while remaining vigilant to local particularities. Belle-île Bus buses serve a wide range of key destinations, offering day or weekly passes to make your explorations easier.

Taxis and personalized services offer an alternative for targeted trips, while bike or scooter rental promises a total immersion in the island landscape, with minimal environmental impact. The island is full of dedicated paths for a responsible and secure discovery of its treasures.

Activities and leisure not to be missed

Belle-île-en-Mer, a real jewel for lovers of nature, culture and gastronomy, offers a multitude of activities suitable for everyone. Find out how to make the most of your visit to this Breton treasure.

Beaches not to be missed

With 58 magnificent beaches, from fine sand to pebbles, surrounded by crystal clear waters and majestic cliffs, Belle-île-en-Mer promises the ideal beach, according to your preferences. Here are the must-sees:

  • The Grève des Curés in Bangor: a paradisiacal cove with turquoise waters, offering a haven of peace.
  • Overlooking Sauzon: a vast golden sand beach appreciated by surfers for its waves and wind, while being supervised for the safety of swimmers.
  • Yeyew in Bangor: a secret and unspoilt beach, rewarded for a steep path with crystal clear water and a breathtaking view of the wild coast.
  • Kerel in Bangor: Perfect for families, this beach is protected from the wind with calm waters, with coves and rocks to explore.
  • Herlin in Bangor: a quiet beach nestled in a double cove, ideal for relaxation under the supervision of a lifeguard station.
  • Les Grands Sables in Locmaria: the largest of the beaches in Bellilois, ideal for sailing, kite-surfing, sand yachting or simply lazing on 2 km of fine sand.

Hiking and nature walks in Belle-ile-en-mer

Belle ile en mer offers an exceptional network of walking and cycling trails to explore its stunning landscapes and remarkable sites, such as:

  • The GR® 340: a circuit totalling 85 km around the island, punctuated by spectacular views, adaptable according to the walking pace of 5 to 7 days.
  • The Aiguilles de Port-Coton circuit: a 2-hour walk from Port-Coton to discover the emblematic rocks and Monet’s heritage.
  • The Pointe des Poulains circuit: exploring the lighthouse, Sarah Bernhardt’s home, and the fort, this 2-hour walk begins at the Pointe des Poulains car park.
  • The circuit of the oppidum of Pouldon: starting from the Pouldon car park, this 2-hour walk leads to the remains of a Celtic fortified village.
  • The Pointe de Skeul circuit: offering an exceptional panorama from Port Maria, this 2-hour walk embraces the wild coast and the surrounding islands.

Cultural and historical heritage

The island has a rich history and vibrant culture, which has seduced artists and writers, leaving an exceptional heritage to explore:

  • The Vauban citadel: a historical jewel overlooking the port of the Palace, open to visitors through its various museums.
  • The Sarah Bernhardt Museum: a tribute to the illustrious actress, this museum contains memories and artefacts of her life on Belle-Île.
  • The Monet Museum: dedicated to the renowned Impressionist who painted some of his major works on the island.
  • The costume museum: dive into the traditional clothing of Belle-île and its manufacturing techniques.
  • The Citadel Museum: retracing the history of Vauban’s formidable fortress, from its construction to the present day.

Culinary experiences: where to eat?

Gourmets and gourmands will find a rich culinary offer at Belle-ile en mer, highlighting local flavors. For a memorable experience:

  • La Table de la Désirade: sophisticated and local gastronomy at the Hotel La Désirade.
  • Café Clara: an unforgettable view of the sea is accompanied by fresh seafood and fish.
  • Le Verre à Pied: a friendly wine bar at the Palais, for a moment of sharing around tapas and selected wines.
  • La Crêperie du Port: to enjoy traditional pancakes in Sauzon, with a view of the port.
  • Le Café de la Cale: in the authentic atmosphere of Bangor, this café-restaurant offers generous homemade cuisine.

Belle-ile-en-Mer – Conclusion

It is clear that Belle-ile-en-Mer represents an exceptional destination, promising a complete escape as well as an authentic dive into the essence of Brittany, both naturally and culturally. Whether you want to relax, go on an adventure, explore or enjoy delicious local delicacies, Belle-île-en-Mer has something to satisfy all your desires.

So don’t wait any longer to organize your trip to Belle-île-en-Mer. Get ready for a memorable holiday that we are sure will exceed all your expectations!


When are the best times to visit Belle-île at sea?

The ideal time to visit Belle-île at sea is from June to October. During these months, you will enjoy a mild climate, low rainfall and water at a pleasant temperature. This season is perfect for exploring the island’s rich landscapes, indulging in water activities and participating in cultural events. For a quieter experience, the months of May and September are recommended. They still offer beautiful sunny days and less crowding.

How to get to Belle-île by sea from the mainland?

The journey to Belle-île by sea from the mainland is mainly by boat. The piers are located in Quiberon, Vannes, Port Navalo, Le Croisic and La Turballe, with crossings lasting between 30 and 50 minutes depending on the boat chosen. Some boats allow the transport of vehicles, bicycles or motorbikes, which can also be rented on the island. It is also possible to arrive by plane, with flights available from Quiberon, Nantes or Rennes.

What are the must-see sites to see on Belle-île en mer?

Belle-île en mer is full of places not to be missed, among which are:

  • The Pointe des Poulains and its fort of Sarah Bernhardt, offering one of the most splendid panoramas of the island.
  • The Vauban Citadel in Le Palais, an impressive testimony to the island’s military heritage.
  • The Aiguilles de Port Coton, rock formations eroded by time and a source of inspiration for Impressionist painters.
  • Donner Beach, a vast stretch of fine sand ideal for facing the ocean waves.


What types of accommodation are available at Belle ile en mer?

Belle ile en mer offers a variety of accommodation to suit all tastes. You can choose between charming hotels, comfortable holiday rentals, welcoming guest rooms, practical residences, a friendly youth hostel, campsites as close as possible to nature, unusual accommodation for a unique experience, or eco-responsible labelled options.