Hiking the rugged coastline of Belle Ile, France

After two days at sea, travelling from London to the Atlantic side of Brittany in France, we arrived in Belle Ile, France. Belle Ile is a small island with a few small towns and a ferry line connection to the mainland. Its total population is about five thousand, half of whom are in Le Palais, a small colorful waterfront town overshadowed by a huge fort called Citadele Vauban.

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After taking a tender into the little fishing harbor, we caught a small local bus to Point de Pulains at the northern tip of the island. Here we walked around the rugged coastline and crossed over to the very northern tip to take a look at the lighthouse.

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The path led over a beach that is submerged at high tide, but our timing was good and we managed to easily get across and back. The Atlantic facing side of the island is all jagged rocks and huge surf. Very dramatic.

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We then hiked about five miles down the coast to the town of Sauzon on the northwest side of the island. The hike was beautiful even though we got a few patches of fog and even drizzle along the way.

The coast reminded me very much of home. It was very similar to the bluffs north of Santa Cruz. The ocean views were great and there were flowers blooming everywhere. We passed one wild patch of hydrangeas that was at least 60 feet long and 8 feet high.

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When we got to Sauzon, another small harbor town, we really noticed the low tide. Several of the boats in the harbor were completely grounded. The tide here must go up and down at least 20 feet daily.

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We wandered around Sauzon for a while and found a bakery with local kouign amman pastries before catching the last bus of the afternoon back.

We took a quick walk through the Citadele Vauban on the way back through Les Palais. It’s a huge fortress with multiple tall curtain walls and moats. I could see how it would be fairly difficult to attack.

Another day at sea tomorrow as we head towards the French/Spanish border.

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Posted by Michael F.
August 3, 2016