If you are ever taking the ferry to/from Roscoff or just exploring the Finistère department of Brittany, the Ile de Batz is a must see. It’s only a short 15 minute ferry across the island, making it one of Brittany’s most accessible islands. Once you have landed the best way to explore this tiny community is on foot.
Île de Batz
Distance : 11.8 km
Duration : 2 h 30 (+15 minute ferry)
The island is reliant on tourism, fishing and the production of fruit and vegetables to sustain itself. It has a population of just 452 people, the majority of whom live on the south side of the island right next the port where you will arrive.
Before setting off at a stomping pace to circumnavigate this island I highly recommend exploring the village of Pors Kernoc. Personally, I headed straight for the Bar du Port as when I visited it was a hot sunny day and they were selling ice cream. After that we meandered through the winding streets that climb up away from the port towards the church. The white cottages with blue shutters sit snugly along the lanes and they are almost all lined with flower beds.
You will find not only a church but the tourist information, post office, school house and the library all in this tiny Breton village. If you fall in love with the island, which is highly likely, there are a few places to stay on the island, including ‘Le Jardin Colonial’ holiday village where you can stay in a cabin near the gardens of Georges Delaselle where this hike finishes.
Head west and back to the coast. The hike itself is self-explanatory. Just keep the coast on your left and follow the footpath that circles the island. No maps or directions required. Keep walking until you see something worth investigating or stop for a quick swim on one of the islands many beaches. White sand or large smooth rocks – your choice.
What to look out for on this hike:
- Fields of fresh produce – The inhabitants of the Ile de Batz grow potatoes, cauliflower, fennel, carrots, celery, pink onions and shallots. But they are mainly known for their ‘pomme de terre primeur’ or ‘early potatoes’, they love the mild island climate and are fertilized with seaweed found just off the coast here.
- The Corsaire’s House – Built in 1711. It was used by pirates or privateers to keep a lookout over the island’s defences.
- The Lighthouse of the Ile de Batz – Built in 1836. At 42 metres high you won’t miss this impressive and essential island structure. Now home to a museum that features the old wardens quarters and the history of life on the island.
- The Northern Beaches – The north stretch of the hike is the longest section and it winds in and out. Starting with rocky chimneys and pebbly shoreline and eventually turning into a long stretch of sand.
- Ruins of St Anne’s Chapel – A historic monument now in ruins due to its abandonment in the 18th century. The abbey was built in the 10th century on the site of a monastery founded by Paul Aurelian, a monk from Wales.
- The Gardens of Goerges Delaselle – A beautiful botanical garden home to an abundant collection of exotic plants.