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Sailing to Brittany’s fairy tale island: exp...

Sailing to Brittany’s fairy tale island: explore Ile de Hoedic

White dunes, a blue sky and a truly charming village: welcome to Hoedic island, Brittany, where natural beauty meets the fairy tales you read as a kid.

When I wake up at the Hotel Le Crouesty I’m starving…today I’ll need some strong coffee and a good breakfast, as it’s going to be a long day.
They say a good beginning bodes well, and it is a good beginning when I see the breakfast buffet at the hotel: breads, jams, honey, fruit…and crepes with nutella!

It’s still early in the morning when we head to Port Navalo, 10 minutes away, where our sailing ship Krog e Barz is waiting for us; this morning we are heading to Hoedic Island, off the Rhuys peninsula in the south coast of Brittany.
The brackish air and the seagulls’ calls awaken me right away. I’m excited, I’ve never sailed before in my life!
Oh! By the way, Hoedic in Breton (yes, it’s a proper language with road signs in Breton and all!!) means duckling, while Houat (Hoedic’s slightly bigger sister island) stands for duck…isn’it cute?

Krog e Barz sailer is grand, painted in a bright white and green and it’s the reproduction of a lobster fishing boat from 1909.

"krog e barz" sailer

Sailing to Ile de Hoedic is much more charming than taking the faster, but soulless, ferry…and let’s remember, sailing is a much more sustainable option as well; it is so important to protect the incredibly fragile environment of the Morbihan Gulf.

When Jerome, the captain, asks around who want to try and hoist the sails I (of course) don’t even think about it and raise my hand…but ehm…maybe this time I might have overestimated my physical strength.

me trying and get the sail up on the "krog e barz"

Photo on the left by Jacqueline Piriou

Jerome soon replaces me with some big guy… Folks, let me tell you, sailing is some fricking hard work!
The sails are finally up, another passenger is at the helm helped by another sailor, and we skim the water at 7 knots; a gentle breeze caresses my face, the sun warms my skin and I feel utterly at peace.
It’s a warm late summer day, and the weather couldn’t be more perfect.

me on board of the krog e barz

Jerome makes some coffee and it’s time to relax: some doze off, some take pictures and someone (aehm…aka me) takes advantage of the two hour crossing to work a little on social media…sometimes I wonder if I am able to actually relax.

There it’s the island! It’s wild, it’s barren, it’s arid and I see nothing at all but a white house on top of a dune covered by grass burnt by the sun.
It feels like we’re docking to the end of the world.

boat on barren landscape - hoedic

From the port it’s a short walk to the village…and now let’s play.
Imagine one of those fairy tale’s little villages that were described in the stories you read as a little kid. One of those villages that seem built with marzipan cots.
You have it? Welcome to Hoedic.
Hoedic is a succession of white walled houses with slate roofs and coloured windows, with flowers in the plant racks; they must give a hint of colour in those long winter days when no tourists and no boats land on the island.

white houses and coloured windows at Hoedic

From the ocean, from far away, what seemed to be a desolate land reveals instead to be a gentle landscape made of white sand dunes shaped by the wind, lilies, little coves, and a blue sky. It must be that gentle, constant and nice breeze that drags away the clouds.

port of Hoedic

I walk around the village , enchanted, and it’s hard to put away my camera in the bag because every corner is so picture-perfect! I end up taking about a hundred pictures of every single door and window…

Life on the island is exquisitely slow, and it couldn’t be any other way: Hoedic is only 2.5 km long and just 800 m wide, there are no paved roads and the island is totally car-free.
The best way to explore Hoedic is to walk following the trail that passes through the whole island, there’s no way you can get lost. And if I, the girl with the worst sense of direction in the entire world, say it, you can believe it!

footpath passing through Hoedic island

The wind whistles and a man hums while riding his bike: maybe he’s one of the 123 people who actually live on the island all year long. Most of them are fishers and I imagine their life must be quite stress-free… I’m a little jealous.
The dogs are very friendly and free to roam around and, as you can imagine if you know me a little bit, I stop and make friends with all of them (no worries, I washed my hands before eating!).

At lunch time we stop at Chez Jean-Paul, half library half restaurant, which is supposedly not the cheapest but the best restaurant for seafood on the island.
“Avez-vous choisi?”- says the sullen waitress.
Of course I know what I’ll get: mussels and fries seems to be THE choice around here…and they are soooo good! Very fresh. Renee and I decide to share that and some salmon so soft it melts in the mouth.

The dishes are very well presented and the atmosphere is relaxed…although, how could it be any different on Hoedic island?!

It’s only a three-hour stop on the island, but I think it’s enough for me to get the feel of it. If you prefer, it’s possible to spend a few relaxing days on Hoedic, as there is a hotel, a campsite, and multiple rental houses.
On our way back unfortunately the ocean is so calm and flat that Jerome decides we need to start the engine or it will take us days to get back to Port Navaloto continue on one of the best road trips in France through Brittany… well, I guess I won’t get sea sick after all!

INFO BOX

Hotel Le Crouesty is a 3-star hotel located in Arzon. I recommend it as a base to explore the Morbihan Gulf, good design and rich breakfast. Rates start at 86 euros for the standard room (breakfast not included).

Krog e barz sails to Houat Island on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and to Hoedic Island on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The sailer is 22 metres long and can host up to 18 passenger; the cost for the trip is 59 euros per adult and 49 per child. For more informations, visit their website.

Chez Jean-Paul doesn’t have a website, but it’s easy to find in the little village of Hoedic (Rue de La Poste). The menu for lunch costs 18 euros (24 with dessert). The seafood is fresh, and the mussels with fries are very recommended.

For information on ferries to Hoedic and where to stay on the island, visit the official Hoedic website (only in French). Don’t speak french? No worries.
You can contact directly the tourism office at this link and they will give you all options for your stay on the island (hotel, camping, or rentals).
Navix and Vedettes du Golfe provide ferries from Port Navalo to Hoedic in the summer.

 

Many thanks to the Brittany Tourism Board for hosting me during my trip to Brittany, and a special thank you to Jacqueline and Arnaud for being wonderful guides. All opinions, as always, are my own.


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  1. What a great post. Love the pictures, Hoedic Island looks wonderful, I’m definitely adding it to my places to visit list.

    • Stef

      6 October

      Thank you Michelle! Hoedic is beautiful, it feels a world away…I’m sure you would love it!

  2. The island looks beautiful, I haven’t tried sailing but id love to experience it…. oh and love to wander around the island.

  3. melody pittman

    25 October

    How adorable. What a great hidden gem. I have been to the Brittany region in the past and loved every minute of it. (though I didn’t encounter one single person that spoke English, i muddled through) Weren’t crepes invented in Brittany? I love Henry VIII and he is involved in much of their history, so I’m a “fan”. I concur, sailing is hard work, but so nice to enjoy someone’s hard work. 😉 Happy traveling.

    • Stef

      27 October

      I know, the whole region is beautiful, I will for sure go back sometime and experience it more! Happy traveling to you too 🙂

  4. christine

    25 October

    I’ve never been sailing but it looks fun!

    • Stef

      27 October

      It is fun!

  5. What a perfect day. I’d order the mussels and fries too based on your description.

  6. Samantha

    28 October

    Any day that starts with nutella and crepes is already a perfect day in my opinion! And a beautiful day of sailing is just the cherry on top.

  7. Alejandra

    28 October

    Nutella crepes? sounds like the beginning of a perfect day. I agree with you I would rather be on a sail boat than a ferry, they both still make me a little bit sea sick. The houses on the island look gorgeous!

  8. Emily

    30 October

    Thank you for such a useful post! I will be in Brittany in a few days and had never heard of Hoedic island before, it looks so charming that I will definitely try and go there.
    Also, i love the idea of the info box, now I don’t have to look for any additional informations anywhere else.

  9. […] bits on the blog: Taste, Smell, Touch, Hear and See Marrakech // Sailing to Brittany’s fairy tale island: explore Ile de Hoedic // Unseen Tours: exploring London with the […]

  10. Mark Fink

    30 December

    Hi Stefania,

    I really enjoyed your post on Hoedic – I’ll be adding the island to my list of places to visit! I noticed at the end of your post that the Brittany Tourism Board hosted you. What all did that include? I do travel photography and will be in the Marseille area as well as Corsica this September. I invite you to see my photography at http://www.northernlight.net as well as my virtual reality photography at http://www.virtual-travels.com.

    Thanks, and looking forward to following you on Twitter!

    Mark

    • Stef

      30 December

      Hello Mark, I’m glad you found out about a place you didn’t know about! The trip to Hoedic Island was part of a blogtour that followed a travel bloggers’ conference, and included accommodation, food and trasportation, but the opinions on things are always my own. I had an amazing experience on the island, it was one of my 2014 travel highlights and would recommend a visit to anyone, truly. I will check out your photography!

  11. […] Read more: Sailing to Brittany’s fairy tale island: explore Ile de Hoedic […]

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