The 12 most beautiful Breton islands

Les plus belles îles bretonnes

Why go to the other side of the world when there are paradise islands waiting for you in France? Here are the 12 most beautiful Breton islands to visit.

Mer d’Iroise, Golfe du Morbihan, Côte de granit rose – Brittany boasts a wealth of natural treasures! Among these treasures are some 800 islands scattered along its coastline, whose turquoise waters have little to envy the Caribbean. Unique bird sanctuaries, sandy coves, colorful flora and picture-postcard villages are just some of the exceptional panoramas to be found here. All aboard for this selection of the 12 most beautiful Breton islands to discover as soon as possible!

1. Saint-Cado

Saint-Cado, l'une des plus petites îles bretonnes

Photo credit: Shutterstock – travellight

Why not start with a tiny piece of land, a tiny island indeed? It’s not the first one tourists think of when visiting Breton islands, and that’s just as well. It’s located in the Ria d’Etel, in the Morbihan department, where the ocean, like a fjord, advances inland. You won’t need a day to walk around this islet with its charming houses and Romanesque chapel, but the memory of its sunset will last a lifetime.

How do I get there?

The Ria d’Etel lies to the north of Quiberon. To reach the bridge, go to the village of Belz.

2. Hoëdic

Envie d'îles bretonnes ? Partez découvrir Hoedic

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Eulalie

2.5 kilometers long by 1 kilometer wide and 120 inhabitants – that’s just the beginning if you decide to stop time during a visit to one of Brittany’s most beautiful islands. It’s also the hollyhocks along the whitewashed walls, the sea lilies, the centaureas and all the other flowers that color the landscape according to the season. And why not let yourself be tempted by an overnight stay? It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy the fine sandy beaches, the coastal paths and the locals during a cosy evening on a café terrace.

How do I get there?

Shuttles run all year round from Quiberon. In high season, you can also board at Le Croisic, La Turbale, Vannes, Locmariaquer, Port-Navalo and Palais.

3. Houat

Houat

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Sasha64f

Houat’s wild coves are rumored to be among the most beautiful in France, but those who don’t respect nature can turn back, as the locals jealously guard their Caribbean-like environment. Don’t forget to finish your day with a stroll through the pretty village overlooking the harbor.

How do I get there?

As for Hoëdic, the boats leave from Quiberon all year round and from the same ports in high season.

4. The island of Sein

Parmi les plus belles îles bretonnes : l'île de Sein

Photo credit: Shutterstock – RVillalon

The crossing to this magnificent Breton island is a good omen for what’s to come. From Audierne, the boats pass through the raz de Sein, a mythical passage with an exceptional view of the rocky promontory. Then we approach the island at an altitude of 1.50 meters! Not a tree in sight, you’re in the realm of winds and waves, as evidenced by the high dikes that protect the village.

How do I get there?

Connections are available all year round from Audierne. Another service is offered in summer from Brest, but with a stopover in Camaret.

5. Groix

Île de Groix

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Pascale Gueret

How about a swim on Europe’s only convex beach? The Grands-Sables beach also intrigues scientists, as it has the luxury of shifting every year. The colorful houses also catch the eye, not to mention the famous blue glaucophane stone, a unique geological feature found nowhere else in Brittany. Groix offers a wide variety of landscapes, with a steep west coast and a gentler east coast. Between the Trou de l’Enfer, the port of Locmaria, the famous Ti Beudeff bar and other historic monuments, your visit will be anything but boring!

How do I get there?

Embarkation takes place in Lorient, but from June to September, a company also operates from the port of Lomener in Ploemeur.

6. Batz Island

L'île de Batz

Photo credit: Shutterstock – synto

Authenticity in sight! The Breton island of Batz is home not only to fishermen, but also to farmers whose produce is renowned among gourmets. The island’s lush vegetation and particularly mild climate will charm you. A visit to the Georges Delaselle exotic garden is a must – it’s a veritable paradise. A tour of the island is full of surprises, with its rocky chaos, turquoise waters, monastery ruins and flower-filled meadows.

How do I get there?

The island is just a 15-minute sail from Roscoff, from where daily shuttles depart.

7. Molène

Molène

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Joanna Rolland

Here’s another Breton island (or rather archipelago) with character! No choice – you need it to live in this ever-changing landscape, with waters that are by turns crystal-clear, then bubbling under the force of the waves. The island has an interesting history, including a freshwater cistern donated by Queen Victoria in gratitude for the help of the inhabitants when an English ship sank. If you can, visit the island of Quemenes, inhabited by a single couple and their sheep, who run a self-sufficient organic energy farm.

How do I get there?

Maritime shuttles leave from Brest or Le Conquet all year round. Occasionally, there are departures from Camaret and Lanildut.

8. Gavrinis

Gavrinis

Photo credit: Shutterstock – RVillalon

Another tiny island in Brittany, virtually unknown unless you’re into prehistory. The island is home to a megalithic site reputed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. The cairn is the highest point in the Gulf of Morbihan, and some of its stones are magnificently engraved.

How do I get there?

To begin with, you need to book a visit, as the site is protected. Departures are from the port of Larmor-Baden, from Vannes in high season, and combined tickets with another site are available, departing from Port-Navalo or Locmariaquer.

9. Belle-Île

Belle-Île

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Alexander Demyanenko

There’s no need to introduce the largest of the Breton islands, so aptly named. Its rugged coastline, steep cliffs that suddenly soften to give way to a superb cove. The island has charmed the great and the good, from Monet to Sarah Bernhardt, and still appeals to the average person. It’s best to visit out of season, to get the full taste of its wild nature.

How do I get there?

Year-round connections depart from Quiberon. In season, Vannes, Locamariaquer, Port-Navalo, Le Croisic and La Turballe offer crossings.

10. Ushant

Ouessant

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Stephane Bidouze

Ready to set sail for the last land before America? Be warned, the crossing is often bumpy, particularly at the Fromveur Passage. The island is battered by winds, especially on the north and west coasts, where the scenery is rugged but terribly romantic. Ouessant also has an interesting history to discover: it was nicknamed « the island of women », and the Musée des Phares et Balises is a must-see.

How do I get there?

You can choose between boat or plane to reach Ushant. By air, you leave from Brest Bretagne airport. By sea, you embark from Brest or Le Conquet.

11. Bréhat

Bréhat

Photo credit: Shutterstock – andre quinou

Its nickname is « l’île aux fleurs » (« the island of flowers »), which immediately gives you an idea of what to expect on this Breton island made up of two islets linked by a bridge. The island’s micro-climate allows vegetation uncommon to the region to flourish, making it feel like the Mediterranean. Needless to say, its landscapes delight all those who set foot on its pink granite soil. Once again, discover it out of season.

How do I get there?

The port of embarkation is in Ploubazlanec.

12. Île d’Arz

Île d'Arz

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Pascale Gueret

A neighbor of the all-too-famous Île aux Moines, Arz is just as beautiful, with its lush, green waterfront. Its long beaches are also renowned for being sheltered from the wind. The villages are home to the pretty « captains’ houses », where many sailors from the merchant navy once made their home, and now those from the Glénans school. The hardest part will be deciding which path to take to visit the island and discover its fabulous panoramas.

How do I get there?

The island is accessible by boat all year round from the port of Séné, and for a few months a year from Vannes.