It’s the last week of the summer vacation, so my friends and I decided that we needed to go to the beach. Originally, we wanted to go south (Marseille, Nice, etc.), but we were planning last minute and everything was already so expensive. Our French Professor (thanks Jean-Luc!) recommended a place called Belle-île-en-Mer (Beautiful Island in the Sea). It’s an island off France’s northwest coast, in the region of Bretagne. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. I have been to a few beaches in Europe, and they have always disappointed me. Nothing compared to Philippine beaches (spoiler: nothing still does).
However, Belle-île lives up to its name. The landscape is very different from anywhere I’ve been. Imagine: rocky cliffs struck by Atlantic waves, clear blue-green waters and fine sand, vast meadows, lighthouses in the middle of nowhere, and scenic ports overlooked by an ancient citadel. All packed in one island.
There were few tourists in proportion to the island’s size that at some points we would find ourselves alone on the beach, or walking at the edge of the island. The beaches were beautiful. Not better than El Nido or Boracay of course, but still beautiful. We went to 5 beaches in 3 days. One was in a cove, where we had to go down a cliff. We swam literally by the Les Aiguilles de Port-Coton (The Needles of Port-Coton). Another beach was hidden by the residential area near the citadel. My favorite though would be the beach by the lighthouse in Sauzon. The water was crystal clear and the landscape was scenic. As my friend said, it felt like we were in a postcard.
The best part of the trip, however, was that it felt like a real vacation. We stayed in a very homey and quaint AirBnB by Le Palais. If I had an ideal “countryside residence”, that would probably be it. It was in the attic so there were many windows looking up to the sky. It was complete, with a well-stocked kitchen, living room with TV and board games, a big round dining table, and plenty of old books and magazines. I can imagine myself bringing my husband and children in that home and just staying there. Not even going out to see the village. It was also literally in front of the farmer’s market, near the port, tourism office, bus station, citadel – basically near everything. You can check it out here. We spent time just cooking, eating, and chilling at home.
When we went out, we did so at our own pace. There were buses from Le Palais to the other parts of island for 5 € (2-way trip). Every day, we went to a site, explored it by walking, and then found the nearest stop for going home. Trips aren’t that often though, and bus stops are quite far apart, so if you are taking the bus, you should plan it well. There are also many bike/scooter/car rentals in the island. I didn’t expect the trip to be very nature-y and I really appreciated that it was. For a moment, it felt like I was back in the tropical islands, save for the freezing water. ♦
For more details about the island, visit their website.