Islands: Yeu & Noirmoutier


This 23km² island on the Atlantic coast has a rugged coastline that's a listed natural site, steep cliffs crowned by an old castle and countless coves harbouring tempting turquoise water. The hilly, rocky southwest is reminiscent of islands off the coast of Brittany, while Yeu (External link) ’s northeast has a gentler landscape, with a line of sand dunes providing safe, gently shelving beaches ideal for families. Nature is at its best here, showcasing migratory birds, rare flowers and standing stones. You can explore the 14th-century castle, the small ports and the fishing hamlets with their white cottages and brightly painted shutters. Naturally, seafood plays a starring role in the island’s cuisine, including tuna rillettes and pâté and various types of smoked fish. To get to Yeu, take the ferry from Fromentine or Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie; the crossing takes between half an hour and an hour.


Easily accessible via the legendary Passage du Gois and a toll-free bridge, Noirmoutier (External link) is famous for its temperate climate, golden sandy beaches, pine forests and pale blue salt marshes. Its coastline is both rocky and sandy with some 40km of beautiful beaches. The sandy landscape is dotted with mills, quaint ports and old sailing ships and is ideal to explore by bike. Noirmoutier also has several oyster farms and its salt marshes teem with life. Coarse sea salt, fleur de sel and Salicornia (grass wort) are must-buys before you leave.