Le Palais, Belle-Île-en-Mer 8.6. - 11.6.
The harbour of Le Palais has buoys inside the breakwater or alternatively it is possible to enter the marina behind the tidal gate. Marina is accessible between -1.5h and +1h high water. We had our share of the rolling in swell in the anchorage of Stêr-Ouen on previous night and when looking at the boats rocking on the buoys in Le Palais we wanted to enter the marina for sure.
To our surprise the northern side of the harbour was reserved for commercial vessels. The crane kept making monotonous movements as cargo was unloaded and again reloaded. Of course the island of this size needs a proper harbour for support vessels. Locals and tourists alike need many goods related to everyday life.
It was also an amazing performance when skippers steered their ships out from the tidal gate. There must have been about 10 cm of space on both sides. When the ships departed on the last high water of Friday, a lot of pleasure boats arrived. In the evening both sides of the harbour were full of yachts and motor boats moored in rafts.
We were rafted to the gorgeous Norwegian wooden boat Vaare. Øivind had travelled for over a year on his boat with his dog Birke from Norway. Birke was happy that people were climbing across the foredeck but in the morning when Andrus was returning with warm bread back to Suwena he suggested that he could have some too.
There are several rental places in the centre of Le Palais offering full range of vehicles from bicycles, electric bicycles and scooters to motorbikes and cars. The cars were mostly old fun cars like Citroen 2CV and Méhari or Renault 4 etc.
The 90 kilometres long footpath is following the coastline. It must be the paradise for any trekking enthusiast. There is a good amount of varying ascents and descents for keeping the scenery interesting. There are also over 60 beaches on Belle-Île. We sampled a few kilometres of this path in the north near Stêr-Ouen when we were anchoring there. The views from there were just stunning.
We were staying on the island for only a few days and thus we needed a faster transport than our own feet. When we went for booking the car there was a funny looking small convertible in front of the car rental called Fun Extr’m 500. We just had to get it! Our butts were almost dragging the road as the 505 cc engine pushed us forward.
The drive around the island was perfect and the weather was excellent as well with the sunshine. With sunhats on we drove from Le Palais to Bangor. The Belle-Île island is roughly 17 km by 9 km. There are four towns on the island, Le Palais on east coast, Bangor in west, Locmaria in south-east and the other harbour town Sauzon in the north. In addition there are over a hundred villages and hamlets.
The most photographed highlight on the island of Belle-Île are the rock needles or aiguilles on the cliffs of Port-Coton. This coastline also inspired impressionist Claude Monet so much that he finally made 39 Belle-Île themed paintings. Also now the cameras were busy, as everybody wanted to immortalize the moment for taking back home.
The lighthouse Le Grand Phare on the west coast of Belle-Île is one of the most impressive in France. It raises to the height of 92 metres from the sea and we got to climb 247 steps before reaching the top.
In France it’s important to eat when the food is available. The most of the restaurants are open only two to three hours from the noon and reopen on dinnertime around 19:30. Thus we went exploring the streets of Bangor and found the well-recommended Crêperie Chez Renée that was also suggested by Øivind from the neighbour boat. We enjoyed delicious galettes or savoury crepes with juicy scallops.
We tried to drive with our ladybug the smallest possible roads and even got lost on the gravel path. The road was rather soft and we were thinking that do we get stuck from the bottom. Anyhow the convertible was definitely the best choice for going around the island. Belle-Île has its own microclimate and many Mediterranean plants grow there. It was lovely to notice all the smells from the nature. The intoxicating sweet smell from the flowers was mixed with the fresh scent from the leaf and conifer trees. We could enjoy the singing birds and beautiful scenery for the whole trip. If we planned for going trekking somewhere then Belle-Île would be very high on the list. The best would be to have about a week for going around the island on foot.