Before visiting the island of flowers and pink rocks, why not experience approaching it from the sea? A tour of the island on one of the Vedettes de Bréhat boats allows you to discover a unique and ever-changing maritime environment, sprinkled with dozens of islands and islets bathed by the currents and tides.
Starting from Ploubazlanec
Boarding from the slipway at l’Arcouest, 9.30, on a lovely sunny morning. On an ebb tide, the trip around the island starts to the west, once we’ve crossed the channel - known as the ferlas - that separates the archipelago from the mainland.
Next we set course for the port of Loguivy-de-la-Mer. It’s not possible to take the Kerpont channel that separates Bréhat, the largest island in the archipelago, from her smaller sisters Raguenès and Béniguet, so we head for the chain of islands from the south. Approaching the Trieux estuary, the boat travels northwards to pass l’île Verte et l’île Maudez. In the distance is the presqu’île de Pleubian, the Sillon de Talbert and the Héaux lighthouse.
Looking to the east, for a glimpse of the entrance to the port of La Corderie and the Chapel of St Michel, to be explored later during a walk around Bréhat. The boat follows the coastline of the north island of Bréhat. Wilder than the southern part of the island it’s buffeted by the prevailing north and north west winds, which explains its more austere appearance and sparse vegetation.
There are few dwellings on this part of the island, but it’s from here that the semaphore and the Rosédo lighthouse watch over the shipping. Right at the end, the Paon lighthouse dominates its pink granite outcrop. Although it’s automated nowadays, before the war it was operated by France’s first female lighthouse keeper, who worked there until her death at the age of 87.
During the 45-minute voyage, the crew member’s commentary introduces the passengers to a whole new maritime universe. After disembarking at the port, this jewel of the archipelago can now be explored on foot.
A chain of 96 islands and islets
In the archipelago, the most visible islets have the prettiest names: the Billy Goat, the Nanny Goat, the Lambs and the Tusks. The majority of islands are privately-owned; Raguenès and Béniguet are to the south-west.
Travelling northwards, at the limit of the Trieux estuary, we pass in front of l’île Verte which is owned by Les Glenans sailing school at Paimpol. During the summer, it’s the perfect base for learning advanced sailing techniques. Here, you need to know how to deal with reefs on the water’s surface and the currents too.
Further north-west, l’île Maudez belongs to the commune of Lanmodez. It is said that Saint Maudez settled there in the 6th century, bringing Christianity to Brittany. On the eastern side of the archipelago are the islands of Lavrec and Logodec. The latter, which is near the Guerzido beach on Bréhat has the distinction of being the most wooded island of the archipelago.
Shellfish, seaweed and mussels
A quick trip past the port of Loguivy-de-la-Mer where for many years the fishers have specialised in shellfish, spider crab and lobster, as we can see from the pots submerged in the entry to the port.
A little further along, near the Rompa beacon, buoys indicate the presence of the seaweed farm which belongs to the seaweed development centre (Ceva), based in Pleubian. But the waters of the archipelago are also suitable for mussel farming. Two rope-grown mussel farms are located in the waters on each side of Bréhat.
One of the largest tidal ranges of the coast
The Bréhat archipelago has an exceptionally high tidal range: the difference in the water height between high and low tide can reach 14 metres on the north side, towards the open sea, in only 6 hours during periods of strong coefficients. It’s not rare to see lows of 3 to 4 metres. This tidal range is one of the largest of the French coast, after Mont Saint-Michel.
The permanent currents and numerous reefs make this an area to be tackled only by experienced sailors. In fact, it’s said that people who can successfully sail the archipelago can sail anywhere. It’s a favourite playground for sailboaters and kayakers, navigating among the rocks.
Text by : Publihebdos