Go and visit one of the largest and most beautiful islands off the south coast of Brittany ~ Belle-Isle-en-Mer. Just before we went Jenny and I had spent a very concentrated period of time, refurbishing our larger gite, “L’Ecurie”, plus a bedroom in the manor house, and had the busiest April in our B&B ever. Basically we wanted a quiet holiday close by, to recover. We chose to go to Belle-Isle-en-Mer and to go to a hotel with a good reputation ~ La Desirade.
We made some good choices! Belle-Isle-en-Mer is a charming little island, only about 20 kilometers long, not much traffic, lots of fabulous walks, deserted beautiful beaches, and with it’s own weather pattern. La Desirade was very comfortable, the staff very friendly and efficient and the breakfasts and dinners yummy!
Le Palais, the main entry point to the island (and notional capital, I think) is a lovely little town dominated by the the Vauban Citadelle. This is an enormous fort, of complex design, now containing a museum and an upmarket hotel/restaurant. We spent a large proportion of the first day wandering around the battlements and the museum. There are lots of interesting exhibits and paintings, and did you know the English once owned the island and did a swap with France for the island of Minorca!
As a sailor I had always wanted to sail and moor in Ster Vraz on the west coast of Belle Isle. Needless to say I have yet to do this, but did go and see it this time and was entranced. It does not seem so small as the charts would have you believe. On the first visit the wind was blowing very strongly from the east, yet boats were coming in and out in complete calm.
The coastal paths are extensive and at the weekend were very well used by walkers and mountain bikers. The beaches were deserted though and we spent most of one day on one beach and shared it with one other couple. So, in summary, go to Belle Isle, out of high season, and have a happy and wonderfully relaxing holiday.