Belle Ile Island
The region of Brittany, France can best be described as truly distinctive. From its unique geography to the many rich traditions still celebrated there today, there is something special about this destination. One of the many reasons people from all over the world enjoy visiting Brittany is the proximity to the sea, and the variety of islands there to explore – particularly Belle Ile Island. Everything down to the island’s very name is simply stunning.
Located right off the Brittany coast, Belle Ile Island is a small yet spectacular island, featuring varying terrain and a unique culture. From breathtaking cliffs with death-defying ledges to peaceful beaches where the waves caress the sands, the diversity of the land is almost as intriguing as the very people who are lucky enough to call the tiny paradise home. Yet despite the island’s small size – just 17km by 9km, there is a surprising amount of open land to explore – the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Belle Ile Island is home to nearly 150 villages, but its main town is Le Palais, which is also the main point of entry and exploration for visitors. It features a lively town center with plenty of things to do, see, and, of course, eat! Another popular town to explore is Sauzon, which is particularly known for the plethora of brightly colored houses that dot the landscape. It’s also home to Apothecary’s Cave, as well as many fascinating rock formations. Finally, there’s Bangor, a rugged town that is located on what’s known as the island’s “wild coast” area. The scenery here is nothing short of amazing.
Aside from the magnificent natural beauty of Belle Ile Island, there are plenty of interesting structures – especially the famed Vauban Citadel. This star shaped fortification once served as a prison that held well-known revolutionaries and a number of enemies of the state, including Ben Bella of Algeria. Not only does this structure’s unique shape and intriguing past grab the attention of visitors, but its sheer size alone is almost as incredible. Inside the citadel are several mysterious doorways that lead to underground passages, hidden cellars, deserted cells and lonely dungeons.
Belle Ile Island is the perfect escape for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. The island is loaded with coastal footpaths and trails to explore on foot or on bike. The many rocky cliffs and rugged terrain of much of the island make beach visits a little more challenging, but there are a few popular spots where sunbathing and swimming are possible. And, of course, the photo opportunities are nearly endless with such spectacular surroundings.
Of the many locations in France to visit, perhaps none is quite as special as the region of Brittany. With its own language, traditions, and even cuisine, it’s almost as if Brittany is its very own country. And, of course, there’s also its ideal location – a peninsula that juts out some 300 km into the Atlantic. The Belle Ile Island embodies all of the rugged beauty, rich culture and unique traditions that make this breathtaking French region a favorite destination among locals and tourists alike, and an absolute “must-visit” stop.