South Brittany can justly hold its head up high as a superb sailing area. There are so many Islands, ports, rivers, etc. you are somewhat spoilt for choice. Belle Ile is another example of wow, wow, wow. We had another fine sail to this offshore island and managed the trip in a single tack and even engaged in a little fishing.
Approaching Belle Ile Making our way towards the Inner Harbour Moored Up!!
We arrived at Port La Palais on the island at 4pm in glorious sunshine. We wanted to rest up in the inner harbour, and duely followed fellow yachtsmen and their vessels passed the ‘Palace’ into an inner harbour after the raising of the ‘drawbridge’. The system for mooring the yachts in this harbour is ingenious, worked out on how long you intend staying. You staying two nights. Ok, you raft up here, next to him and he will come alongside you as he is here for two night as well! The guys working the marina ribs do a great job and even turn boats around to maximise the limited space so everyone fits together like pieces of a jigsaw. …..
Supper on board again…..what to do with 24 hour French bread….Fondue Savoyard of course but as we had no fondue set on board we made do with the metal rack from the microwave, a saucepan and a tea light!!
Fondue Savoyard! Yum
The island is beautiful. We decided the best way to see all of the area was to hire a car. Avis here we come, and were able to pick up the car that night ready for a full days touring. We headed West in our hire car, to a point where we couldn’t drive any more, without the car getting very wet. On the tip of the Western most point of the island we found a museum. The museum was dedicated to the life and career of one Sarah Bernhardt. No I can honestly say that I didn’t have a glue who she was either. But I do now. It turns out that Sarah was a bit of a lass. Born in 1844, she became the greatest French actress of the later 19th Century. She toured the World acting and on stage and when the new medium of film took hold she was one of the first actors to appear in motion pictures. Her Grandmother owned a cliff top property on Belle Ile, and it was here that Sarah would holiday on a regular basis away from the pressures of fame. I suggest you have a look on google to see what a varied career she had, including the fact that she had a champagne drinking crocodile as a ‘pet’.
Sarah Bernhard’s retreat Belle Ile Beautiful Scenery Our picnic stop!
Belle Ile didn’t disappoint, and is a gem of a place. The regular tripper ships from the mainland bringing more and more visitors fills the Island with thousands in the Summer months. We stayed on the island for two nights, leaving on the next high tide.
Isle De Houat
Next destination, another Island known as Isle De Houat. This island is on the end of a long chain of rocky out crops jutting out from the Quiberon peninsular. We sailed across to a bay on Houat, and anchored accompanied by another 100 plus yachts and motor boats. It was a French holiday weekend and the French like nothing better than to sail to their beautiful off shore Isles.
There is a distinct difference between me and my French counterpart in the art of anchoring a yacht. I’m not saying for a minute that my preferred method is correct but basically, find a hole between your neighbouring boats big enough for you to drop anchor, and then allow enough room for the boat to swing a full 360 degrees around where the anchor is (hopefully) secured to the sea bed. Whilst the anchor is being lowered over the end of the sharp bit of a yacht slowly motor in reverse with the wind to allow the anchor chain to lay out nice and straight on the sea bed. With enough chain out again motor in reverse to make sure the anchor has bit into the sea bed. Any vibration on the chain means the anchor is dragging. That’s my way!. The French employ a very different model. They come as close to your yacht as they can, find the smallest of holes between neighbouring boats and lower the anchor whilst still going forward. Stop engine, job done, open wine!. Said Frenchman is then aghast when his yacht gets too close to other boats. The up shot of all this is that neighbouring French persons become very local in their protestations. So aghast French sailor moves on, to an equally small anchoring space to endure more shouting. Oh what fun!
We spend the night on anchorage and having scanned the weather forecast decided that with the expected wind we would be better off in the sanctuary of a Marina. We headed to 9 miles into Port Haliguen, Quiberon and spent the night tied up alongside an old Bristol Channel pilotage sailing cutter. They had sailed across to support their daughter in a European sailing competition.
Next day, the weather had improved and we headed back out to Isle De Houat. On the chart was a bay on the South of the island which looked ideal as a sheltered anchorage, however, on the chart it was marked as ‘no anchorage’ in the bay due to submarine electric cables. Enroute to the bay we became involved in a little race with another fully crewed yacht. He wasn’t going to pass me!. Around the headland we raced, side by side, only to be greeted with an anchorage bay full of not one other boat but at least 500 other boats. If there was no anchorage in this bay no body had told the French. The bay is called Treac’h er Gourhed, which is another example of the similarity between Welsh and the Gaelic of Brittany as beach in Welsh is Traeth. When in Rome etc, etc. So we joined the melee for an anchorage spot. Not a real problem as there was plenty of room for all.
We pulled up the dinghy, and headed ashore. Isle De Houat was a delight. Lots of sand dunes, not many trees, and a holiday complex which resembled a concrete jungle of cottages and houses, you know when a big development company get hold of a stunning island and turn it into a profit making machine. What a pity, but at least the complex wasn’t too big. We again spend the night at anchorage and witnessed a beautiful sunset.
Our Anchorage by day Our Anchorage by night