Three of France’s best islands
With over 3,000 km of coastline France has beautiful beaches aplenty but there are also stunning islands waiting to be discovered. Here are three destinations to add to your travel plans this spring and summer
Île de Porquerolles
Located 20 minutes by boat from Hyères off the Mediterranean Coast of Var lies Porquerolles, the biggest of three islands that make up the Îles d’Hyères Archipelago along with Île du Levant and Port Cros. The island, which is seven km long and four km wide, is accessed by ferry from the port of Giens near Hyères and motor vehicles are prohibited with bicycles being the favoured form of transport. Porquerolles is famed for its pine forests, vineyards and abundance of fruit trees along with its rocky coastline, clear blue waters and vast beaches including Plage de Notre-Dame, which stretches along the north-east coast. There are maritime events aplenty including La Porquerolle’s Cup, a sailing regatta from 7-8 June 2014, and since 2002 the island has hosted a lively summer music festival, Jazz à Porquerolles, which takes place from 10-15 July in 2014.
Tel: (Fr) 4 94 58 33 76
Île de Noirmoutier
Since 1971 the island of Noirmoutier, located off the coast of Vendée, has been connected to mainland France via a bridge. Before then the island was accessible by Passage du Gois, a perennially flooded causeway that can only be used during low tide. Since 1942, the 4.5 km causeway has been listed as a monument historique and it continues to be a major tourist attraction for visitors to the island. Noirmoutier is ideal for animal lovers who will enjoy visiting the marshes of Müllembourg Nature Reserve to see the variety of species of plants and animals. Spring is a particularly beautiful time to visit as migratory birds back from Africa come to nest in the marshes. The island is also renowned for its beaches and in Barbâtre in the south Boucholeurs, Océan and Midi beaches are perfect for kite surfing, windsurfing and kayaking.
Tel: (Fr) 2 51 39 80 71
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The largest of Brittany’s islands, Belle-Île-en-Mer lies 14 km from the Quiberon peninsula in Morbihan and is a popular holiday destination thanks to its microclimate that keeps the weather mild year round. Belle-Île, which is divided into four municipalities, Bangor, Le Palais, Locamaria and Sauzon, is accessible by ferry with crossings throughout the year from the port of Quiberon to Le Palais and during the summer months there are additional ferry services. The island is known for its rocky coastline which Impressionist artist Claude Monet captured on his painting Les rochers de Belle-Île, la Côte sauvage back in 1886 and you can visit Les Aiguilles de Port Coton in Bangor to see the cliffs in real life. If beaches are more your thing then the island has plenty to choose from including La plage des grandes sables, a two km long stretch of fine sand.
Tel: (Fr) 2 97 31 81 93