Just off the coast of the Vendée region lies a gem. A shining diamond, filled with untamed lands and coastal cliffs, sandy coves and fishing ports, as perfect as if from a dream.
The story begins with its first words on the continent, in the Fromentine district to be precise, found along the coast of Vendée. A boat will be ready to whisk you away to another land, as if diving straight into a fairy tale.
A timeless atmosphere
As soon as you step into Port Joinville, the entry port of the island, you’ll be taken by its beauty.
The narrow passageways seen here are called “rue de la fée” (fairy road)“rue du secret”(secret road) and“au coin du chat” (cat’s corner). These roads run past white houses with colourful wooden shutters opening out onto the horizon.
Wander beyond the limits of the port for a distinct change of scenery. Forget about cars, cycling is by far the best way to explore the 14 miles of moors here.
A scenic journey of emotion
First of all, head east towards the warmest ocean waters of the island at Ker Chalon beach, and enjoy a pleasant swim or a bit of beachcombing.
Dunes, and more dunes...
At the south of the island, the coast is just waiting to unveil its wild Celtic beauty: steep cliffs, rugged scenery, and sharp peaks ripping apart the Atlantic waves.
For a more relaxing atmosphere, head towards the southwest of the island. Specifically, visit the colourful rocky rifts in Port de la Meule, guarded by two steep cliffs where small boats take shelter when the weather turns poor.
Now, drift off into dreamland: admire the landscape with its winding sandy roads standing out against the lush grassy moors.
An open-air history book
In contrast to this natural setting, discover the small villages with their low whitewashed houses.
On this island, 5000 years of history are sealed. Île d'Yeu, the furthest island from the continent (out of the 15 that make up the Ponant Islands*), recites all the historical stories it has witnessed over time:
- Prehistory cries out from the dolmen and menhir rock formations
- The Old Castle and its ruins bear witness to the Middle-Ages, just as the Roman-style church of Saint-Sauveur does, built between the 10th and 11th century
- The Citadel, the former state prison and barracks, and also where Marshal Petain was held in exile (1945-1951), tells us all about the past two centuries.
Travelling back to the present, a must-see in Port-Joinville is the bustling docks just in time for the arrival of the tuna fishing boats.
On your journey home, close your book of memories in a land appropriately named the "Pearl of the Ocean".
*Ponant Islands: 15 inhabited isles and islands surrounded by the Channel or the Atlantic.