Belle Ile tourist attractions

Belle Ile tourist attractions

Author Anne Plau

Above all, Belle-Île is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers and beach holidaymakers. The coastline is spectacular with sheer cliffs, bays and sandy beaches. Picturesque places, an impressive fortress and special viewpoints are also attractive.

Belle Ile - Aiguilles de Port Coton

Belle Ile - Aiguilles de Port Coton


Fortress and ramparts in Le Palais 

Construction of the star-shaped citadel overlooking the harbor at Le Palais began in the 16th century. The construction was completed in 1683 by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, general commissioner for fortifications under King Louis XIV. The fortress served as a castle and prison and now houses a museum. From the top you have a wonderful panoramic view of Le Palais.

Belle-Île - Citadel of Le Palais
Belle-Île - Access to the citadel of Le Palais
Belle-Île - Citadel of Le Palais
Belle-Île - Citadel of Le Palais

The citadel was to become part of a complete island fortification. This plan was not implemented. In the years 1803 to 1877, however, the city wall around Le Palais was built. The wall was no longer of military importance because it was completed late. She has never been tested. It is therefore considered a unique testimony of 19th-century military architecture. Today, the city walls serve as a 2,5-kilometer promenade around the port of Le Palais.

Le Palais - Port entrance

Le Palais - Port entrance


La Belle Fontaine 

The water reservoir, also called "Aiguade Vauban", is located 3,5 kilometers south of Le Palais. It was built in 1703 according to plans by Vauban and was used to supply ships with drinking water. The reservoir is 22,5 meters long, 6,5 meters wide and 6 meters deep. It holds 850.000 liters of water and is protected by a round arch. "Aiguade Vauban" has been a listed building since 1993 and can be visited. There is only one other building of this type in France.

Grand Phare 

The large Goulphar lighthouse was built in 1836. It is about a kilometer from the Atlantic in the village of Kervilahouen. The lighthouse is 52 meters high. You can climb up to a platform via 252 stone steps and an iron ladder. The effort is rewarded with a wide panoramic view of the island and the Atlantic.

Belle Ile - Phare de Goulphar


Belle Ile - Phare de Goulphar


Belle Ile - Phare de Goulphar


Belle Ile - Phare de Goulphar 


Pointe des Foals 

The Pointe des Poulains in the north of Belle-Île consists of a small island, a headland and a peninsula.

The Phare des Poulains lighthouse was built on the offshore island in 1868. At low tide you can walk to the island and visit the 18 meter high tower. The Pointe des Poulains headland offers a wonderful panoramic view. When the weather is nice, you can see as far as the Bay of Quiberon.

The Pointe des Poulains peninsula was dominated by a small two-story fort built in 1846. The neglected structure was acquired by French actress Sarah Bernhardt in 1894 and extensively renovated. Other buildings were gradually erected on the site and used as a summer residence by Sarah Bernhard, her family and friends. Today the Sarah Bernhardt Museum is located in the old fortress.

Aiguilles de Port Coton

The sea stacks are named after the foamy flakes of spray that form there when the sea is rough and look like cotton swabs. 

Belle Ile - Aiguilles de Port Coton


Belle Ile - Aiguilles de Port Coton


Belle Ile - Aiguilles de Port Coton


Belle Ile - Aiguilles de Port Coton 


The crags became famous through paintings by the impressionist Claude Monet. In 1886 he spent two months on Belle-Île. He lived in the village of Kervilahouen and painted a total of 39 paintings of the coast at Port Coton, Port Domois and Port de Goulphar.

Four Picturesque Communities 

The four communes on Belle-Île are still very original. The places can be easily reached by public buses.

Belle-Île - Le Palais bus station
Le Palais - the Belle Île bus
Belle-Île - on the way in Kervilahouen
Belle-Île - on the way near Antoureau

Le Palais 

In the main town of Le Palais, the island's military heritage is clearly visible. The massive citadel built by Vauban at the end of the 17th century dominates the town. The fortified city wall now serves as a promenade around the picturesque harbor. The port of Le Palais is protected from the sea by jetties. There are restaurants and cafés around the harbor basin that invite you to linger. The place attracts with small shops, galleries and a pretty church. The historic water reservoir Belle Fontaine is 3,5 kilometers south of town.

Le Palais - Citadel
Le Palais - Quai de l'Acadie
Le Palais - l'Eglise du Christ Roi
Le Palais - the organ of l'Eglise du Christ Roi

Sauzon 

The picturesque fishing village of Sauzon is located in the northeast of the island. Main activity because of the small sheltered port used to be fishing. Today Sauzon is a popular marina.

Nearby is Pointe des Poulains with the lighthouse and the Sarah Bernhard Museum. A little further south are the rocks of the Apothecary's Cave (Grotte de l'Apothicairerie), where cormorants used to nest. The nest sites were lined up like drawers in an apothecary's cupboard. The Jean and Jeanne menhirs, dating from around 3500 to 1800 BC, can be admired a few kilometers away near the village of Kerlédan.

Bangor 

The town of Bangor is in the middle of Belle-Île. It was founded in the 6th century and is still very original and rural.

Belle-Île - Bike hire in Bangor


Belle-Île - Bike hire in Bangor


Belle-Île - Hôtel le Grand Large


Belle-Île - Hôtel le Grand Large 


There are some beautiful beaches in the vicinity, such as the dune beach of Donnant. The Goulphar Lighthouse and the spectacular cliffs at Port Coton are also not far away.

Locmaria 

The place is located in the southwest of Belle-Île. The oldest building is the stone church built in the Romanesque style. It dates back to the 11th century and has long been a place of pilgrimage. Locmaria is strongly influenced by agriculture.

In the area are the highest cliffs of Belle-Île and the longest beaches, such as Les Grand Sables.

Paradise for hikers and cyclists

Belle-Île is a hiker's paradise. A coastal path circles the island for 82 kilometers. The path is for pedestrians only. In fact, the entire glaring coastline is hiked this way. Differences in altitude of a total of 2000 meters have to be overcome.

Belle-Île - Coastal footpath


Belle-Île - Coastal footpath


Belle-Île - Coastal footpath


Belle-Île - Coastal footpath


Cyclists are also welcome on Belle-Île. More than 80 kilometers of marked cycle paths are signposted. In Le Palais in particular, there are a few rental companies for bicycles and e-bikes.

Beaches on Belle Île 

Belle-Île has 58 beaches with a total length of seven kilometers. Opposite the mainland and in the south of the island, the water is calm on the coast and on the beaches. The beaches of Donnant, Herlin and Les Grands Sables are monitored in season. Sports activities such as kite surfing, diving or stand-up paddling are often offered.

Le Palais-Cote Sauvage

Le Palais-Cote Sauvage


September 2022

 

 

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