The best way to discover the island is on foot, in hike. You could:
- prepare you hike with the map (available in the tourism information center, just in front of the arrival by boat in Le Palais), including the bus stop location + schedules
- use the bus for joining the departures points and going back
The hikes I would suggest are (by order of preference):
/1/ North west wild coast: La pointe des poulains - Port Kerlédan (5 Hours) with an amazing place: l'apothicairerie
/2/ West wild coast: Les aiguilles de port coton - Plage de Donnant - Port Kerlédan (4 Hours)
/3/ South east coast: Locamria - Port Pouldon (3 hours)
/4/ East coast: Locamria - Pointe du Bugul (3 hours)
/5/ North west wild coast: La pointe des poulains - Sauzon (3 hours)
Nice to know: Don't hike on the wild coast with socialization efforts intentions: the wind sings hardly and the crash of the sea on rocks is powerful... making discussions quite impossible
Contrasting with the rough beauty of the wild coast, the towns of Belle Île are pleasant to discover, with a specific charm
1. Le Palais, the more animated, colored
2 Sauzon and its charming small harbour
3 Locmaria with a small adorable church, illuminated by magnificent stained glasses
Vauban’s Citadel (in fact , Vauban designed the project but it was completed 2 centuries later, the money was missing) is dominating the port of Le Palais. The citadel was built in five stages (XVI - XIXth century)
After, the citadel serves as penal colony, as center for refugees of the war of Spain, was occupied by the Germans (WW2) and finaly sold by the State in 1960. Today the citadel is a private area, part of which has been turned into an hotel, restaurant and museums. It continues to welcome many visitors.
- Military architecture
- Museums and arts
- View on the Le Palais harbour (be aware that, to benefit of this view, you'll have to pay the admittance to the museum)
Free Visit : during, 1H30 aproximatly
Rates : Adult 6,10 € Child ( - 12): 3,05 € Group 4,57 €
Guided Tour : Everyday from June to september, during more 1 hour,Rates : Adult 8€ child 5€
The pretty town of Le Palais is the "capital" town of the island. Situated around the Bassin de la Saline and the port of Le Palais it is overlooked by the massive Citadelle and surrounded by the fortifications.
This bustling town offers many restaurants, cafes, a market and shops and generally is the arrival point for most visitors to the island.
The tower of the Goulphar Lighthouse which came into service in 1836 measures 52 meters. Be prepared to climb uo 213 granite steps and then an iron stair case to reach the lantern. Once up there and the weather is right one can enjoy spectacular views of the entire island.
Battered by the sea winds this oceanic coast displays an imposing beauty with its jagged cliffs, strangely-shaped rocks and deep caves alternating with small valleys, beaches of fine sand and creeks full of breathtaking blue-green coloured water.
Situated in the compound of the Vauban Citadel one can find a small but interesting museum that shows the history of this island and various collectors items of the maritime history. An interesting part includes the occupation of the island during World War II.
The citadel extends over more than 10ha and has ramparts 4km long. The citadel is composed of around a dozen buildings totalling over 10,000m2 of floor space, not counting the many blockhouses.
Built from 1549, it still has an impressive system of ditches. Belle-Ile became the property of the crown in 1661 after the arrest of superintendent Nicolas Fouquet. In 1683, Vauban was charged with fortifying this island. It was occupied by the English from 1761 to 1763.
In the 19th century, the citadel was used as a penal colony for prisoners of war and then political prisoners before becoming a reception centre for refugees of the Spanish Civil War at the end of the 1930s. From July 1940, the island was occupied by the Germans. It was to be one of last parts of France to be liberated as it was part of the famous "Lorient pocket".
The French government sold the citadel in 1960, by which time it had fallen into a state of serious disrepair.
The building of the city walls was foreseen by Vauban at the end of the 17th century and was not completed between 1802 and 1877. It is a collection of ramparts, ditches and bastions that constitute a unique and intact example of military architecture from the 19th century.
This nature reserve was created in 1962 by Bretagne Vivante. This ornithological reserve shelters many colonies of seagulls, brown gulls, cormorants and other birds. Access to the reserve is forbidden outside of guided visit times.
Coup de foudre. Love at first sight. It struck Sarah Bernhardt in August 1893, when she made her first visit to Belle-Ile. By that time the flamboyant actress was an international idol, a 19th-century superstar. Audiences in Europe and the United States swooned when she stepped onstage to play the doomed courtesan Marguerite Gautier in "La Dame aux Camelias."
Her former home was unfortunatley bombed during the Second World War, however a museum at the Pointe de Poulains exhibits part of her life and one can visit the renovated fort where she used to reside.
Claude Monet showed the fascinating beauty of these jagged rocks in several of his famous paintings. Their name comes from the whipped foam, which, in stormy weather formes large forthy flakes similar to cotton.
Dominated by a small automated lighthouse with a range of 23 miles this site offers marvelous views over the rugged coastline of the island.
It was acquired by the French Coastal Conservatory in 2000 and is now a protected area.
Perched in a supreme spot at the entrance to a deep estaury, Sauzon has become a pleasent port offering many leisure activities. Originally this was a fishing port which was at its peak in 1878. Its coloured facades, narrow alleys and beutiful restored church make this a picuresque spot to visit.