Ile de Brehat (Île-de-Brèhat) – A Beautiful Island Just off the Coast of France in Brittany
Not that we needed a break during our 10-day Brittany trip, but we decided to escape from our homequarters in Cancale and visit the Ile de Brehat or Île-de-Brèhat, a beautiful island just off the coast of France near Paimpol in Brittany known for its variety of flowers and for the fact that it has zero cars. The photos we saw enticed us, but the reality was a little different.
As always, the risk of rain in the spring in Brittany is high and we visited during a storm so for the most part, we were just wet. But the island is charming, even in the worst of weather and we actually enjoyed our stay. The year-round population of Ile de Brehat is around 400-450, in the summer it is 5,000. Oh, those Parisians who all need to get away at the same time! So the best time of year to visit the island is not the summer! Come in May, even early June, September, and early October for the best opportunity to visit the island in relative peace.
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Ile de Brehat is a 2-hour drive from Cancale and then a 7-minute (yes, you read that right) ferry to the island. Before reaching the island we stopped in Paimpol to take part in their annual Fête de la Coquille Saint‑Jacques (Scallop Festival). I love scallops and we don't get them for less than $30 a pound or something ridiculous like that in Phoenix, so despite the rain, I was all in for a festival celebrating one of my favorite varieties of seafood! We watched people buying pounds and pounds of fresh scallops and had fun watching them haul them away. We sampled a wide variety of foods highlighting scallops and we enjoyed a 3-course lunch featuring scallops. Well, 2 of the courses anyway, that dessert, whew salted caramel pudding, I can still taste it! But on to the island, allez!
How to get to the Ile de Brehat
Unless you own your own boat, canoe, or kayak, the only way to get to Ile de Brehat is by ferry. It's pretty easy. There is only one company that runs the ferry, it's called Les Vedettes de Bréhat, unfortunately, their website is only in French, but their ticket agents on site do speak English. Depending on the season you will want to buy your tickets ahead of time, but as we were still in the off-season, we purchased our tickets the same day. The ferry runs all year round leaving from the Pointe de l'Arcouest, north of Paimpol. The address is 6 Route de l'Embarcadère, Ploubazlanec. The trip takes 7-10 mins leaves about every 30 minutes, obviously double-check the schedule. The ticket costs 8.80€ for a roundtrip ticket low season and €10.30 during the high.
Île-de-Brèhat is not a day trip from Paris as it is 5 hours by car to the spot where you catch the ferry. It's more like something you add on while visiting the coast of Brittany. The largest city with significant transportation options is the capital of Brittany, Rennes. You can take a TGV from Paris (Montparnasse station) but there are multiple transfers and a bus ride. One thing to note on your return trip from Ile de Brehat back to Ploubazlanec, pay attention to where the tide is. There are no signs to indicate which of the 3 concrete landings the boat will come in and take off from. For people accustomed to taking the ferry back in forth it probably isn't an issue, but it can be disconcerting to not know where you are going to catch your ride home. Of course, in typical misadventure fashion, the morning we took the boat back it was the furthest dock away and a bit of a walk with our suitcases, camera equipment, and backpacks. But we survived. I'm smiling in all these pictures but inside I am grumbling a bit!
Where to Stay in Ile de Brehat
This is a very popular day-trip destination. People come for hiking or biking and then return to the mainland. There aren't a ton of options, but you do have some. For our weekend stay, we booked a hotel room through Airbnb called La Potiniére. It sits right on a cliff over a very popular beach and has stunning views. Of course, our view was rain. By the time we walked from the ferry to the hotel on cobblestoned streets and sanded paths, we were pretty much soaked.
The main house used to be a restaurant that was quite popular in its day. The chef retired and sold the property to a couple who often sailed past Ile de Brehat and admired the spot. They added 4 rooms, this is ours below. And an apartment/condo on top of them that can be rented by the week. We were there the first weekend it was open (for the season) which was the first of May and they close for the season in mid-September.
The hotel is located above Guerzido Beach which is massively popular during the high season. With the rain, it was empty. But it didn't matter, the view made up for it! Look at this sunrise! No rain!
- There are a few hotels, the most famous being the Hotel Bellevue.
- Lots and lots of family homes are accessible to rent online (Airbnb, etc.).
- There is one campground called Camping Municipal De Bréhat located on the southwestern tip of the island, in Goareva, just above the Port-Clos.
Things to do on the Ile de Brehat
Well, that very much depends on the weather. You can hike and bike all year-round, but you probably aren't going to enjoy the beach when it's pouring down rain! We did a 7-mile hike around the outer part of the island the morning after we arrived and it was refreshing (after the rain) and just gorgeous. We visited cows, checked out farms, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Despite our weather experience, Ile de Brehat has its own micro-climate which is why it is known for its flowers. You’ll see unlikely vegetation everywhere and on everything it's an interesting dichotomy with the rugged, wild coast. They also have a huge variety of birds. We saw several wild pheasants (big ones!) but did not reach the part of the island where there are 250+ pairs of puffins, something for our next trip for sure!
There are 2 lighthouses on the island. Paon in the northeast and Rosédo in the northwest. These pictures are from Paon.
Two last things that we did not do due to the weather constraints on our time: Near the municipal camping ground is a glassblowing studio, Verreries de Bréhat, where you can watch the glassblowers create magnificent glass objects, or you can try it out for yourself. Visit the Chapelle Saint-Michel, the church where candles were lit for sailors. It is pretty austere from the outside, and the inside as well!
Where to Eat on the Ile de Brehat
Truth be told with our scallop lunch in Paimpol and our rain-soaked walk to the hotel, we picnicked our single evening in the hotel. Breakfast was provided in our room charge. However, I did get a recommendation from the hotel proprietress, which was, Le Creche-Kerio which seems to have good reviews. There are a few other restaurants in the main part of town, but the typical tourist type, creperies, and pizza shops, and a baker. Hotel Bellevue has seafood in their restaurant. There is a small Carrefour grocery store and this out on the path to the Paon lighthouse, there is a lovely organic farm stand that goes by the honor system. They also bake fresh bread daily, we passed by too early or we would have picked some up!
As we were on the ferry pulling away from Ile de Brehat we spotted this tractor pulling what was likely a set of (way smarter) passengers. These people didn't have to drag their suitcases from outside of town into town and then down to the third dock, but then again, they don't have a misadventure to share as we do!
How about you? Have you been to Ile de Brehat (Île-de-Brèhat) before? Had you heard of it? Interested? Visited any other similar islands? Do tell!
For a visual summary of this post, check out my Ile de Brehat web story!
Even in the rain, this place is gorgeous. It is too bad you didn’t get to see those puffins. Definitely a reason to go back.
I love how many tips you give out. I can’t wait to travel more and these places look so amazing. Thank you for sharing!! 🙂
How awesome this trip must’ve been!! It looks chilly, though. Is it normally colder there?
Never heard of this place.. How glad I am that you shared this. Seems wonderful.
What a fun adventure! I love the fact that there are no cars as you can really feel like you are getting away from it all. Such a beautiful part of the world!
Ile de Brehat is rugged and beautiful! Thank you for sharing another place I’d never heard of before, but enjoyed learning about. So sorry you ended up with rain, but that stunning sunrise shot more than made up for it!
Doesn’t look like France at all…but I love it, looks like a beautiful place and I’m sure you had a great time x
This is absolutely beautiful!! I’ve never heard of this but it’s exactly what I would love to see out when traveling…love a hidden gem!
Wow, this is stunning! I would love to visit!
LOL I’m a fan of the tractor pull. Seriously, you are always so confident in travel like this, ferries and such, which to a Southerner are so daunting. Thanks for sharing this lovely spot. I’ve been to the Brittany region and loved everything about it, but this is my first time hearing about Ile de Brehat.
looks like you had a really great time, I need to add this to my travel list!
Your photos are stunning. Makes me want to visit Ile de Brehat soon. My mother just got back from Paris and Normandy, maybe she’d make the trip with me!
Never heard of Ile de Brehat. But misadventures create great memories. The island us lovely.
By misadventures, I mean missing the puffins and having to deal with rain. But you had great photo-ops!
You seem to be a real Francophile with all your visits to out of the way places in France. 😉
I confess I visited Brittany only once in the middle of summer, but I didn’t stay very long. So didn’t go to Ile de Brehat, which by the way looks like a lovely place.
I have to confess: I like my weather a bit warmer. So the year I went, I continued down to the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux.
I do love all the photos on all your posts. In this one, I especially love the wisteria on that house. Ile de Berhat is indeed lovely and the rain didn’t show except for the subtle dampness@
It sounds absolutely lovely. Your photos make me want to go and enjoy some of the peace and quiet and flowers.
WOW that is a HUGE population shift in the summer! The puffins would be the big draw for me. They are on my bucketlist and this looks like an amazing city to explore in addition to seeing them in their natural habitat
I read your Cancale article and loved it. This is a great follow up! Amazingly beautiful scenery there on that part of France. Wetter than what I’m used to seeing like in Provence. That just goes to show you how big the country is with all its different macro-climates!
I’ve been very often to France, but always to the southern part. Since I’ve heard so much about Brittany, I’d really like to go. I think it’s a whole different culture than the south so it would be really interesting seeing the difference.
Gorgeous island and such stunning photography. Even with the rain, the place looks amazing. How fantastic to read about the scallops festival. That must have been so much fun. That’s my kind of local festival 🙂 We will be visiting Cancale again in the next few months and I’m adding Ile de Brehat to the list now. Thanks for the recommendation and details on how to get there. Cheers.
The view from the Air BNB in Ile De Brehat is so peaceful and beautiful! Even with the rain it is a gorgeous place to explore and visit! xo – Kam
What a beautiful island Ile de Brehat. I am totally in awe of it. Your room is so gorgeous and that view is breathtaking. Sunset picture is absolutely love. I am surely gonna visit this place once around. Thanks for sharing
Oh that’s nice! I love these little houses. They always look so cozy! I have never heard of the island, I like it. I think I should remember the destination!
I’ve never heard of this place before but it looks like such a quaint and charming place to visit. I love the idea of getting around the island on a bike, stopping at the little market stalls, strolling along the coastal trails and then retiring to such a comfortable looking apartment.
So in general, I am not a morning person but if I got to see a sunrise like that from my Airbnb on Ile de Brehat I would be up every morning at the crack of dawn! I actually said whoa out loud! What a cool place to explore for a weekend. Darcee would love riding bikes in the little town or just sitting outside the Airbnb and watching the views with her tea!
It’s very helpful to know that Ile de Brehat isn’t a day trip from Paris and instead is best done as an “add-on”. That is a tip that seems so small but saves so much time when planning. Also, that sunrise is absolutely stunning and would be worth staying at La Pontiniere just for that alone!
I am a complete and total fan of scallops … when prepared properly that is and I am sure your’s were delectable. That sunrise photo is unreal … though that does seem to portend some incoming weather, “pink in the morning, sailors’ take warning … red sky at night, sailors’ delight.” Love your sense of humor too … you have a new blog fan. 😉
The open air ferry to Ile De Brehat looks very inviting, offering quite the view I assume. The airbnb place also looks very relaxing. The sunrise at Guerzido must have been gorgeous. Thanks for sharing 🙂
What a great relaxation break during your trip to Bretagne. I like the seclusion and slower pace. We should all make it a point to just enjoy a break during our travels.
I was all excited thinking it was an island I didn’t know about in the south and that we’ll be able to sail to it next year for practice. But nope, it’s not going to be next year. Still, it looks really interesting and I’ll keep it in mind if we ever have the chance to visit new places instead of the family when we come to France 🙂
Ile de Brehat is beautiful. It’s too bad it rained so much when you were there. That said, I’m pretty impressed that you still managed such a long walk. It looks like such a relaxing, rustic place. Almost old world.
Looks like an absolutely lovely place to slow down for some peace and quiet!
So glad you got to enjoy your time there despite the weather, although you’d never know from your photos, they’re lovely. The island seems very nice, very idyllic, the perfect getaway
Ooooh this is beautiful Andi! I love visiting the countryside, and the Île-de-Brèhat looks like a perfect place to relax, even in the rain. The hike looks perfect after the rain. Everything seems to fresh and those cows have such friendly faces!
Amazing photos! This looks like an awesome destination!
How beautiful this looks! Putting Île-de-Brèhat on the map for me. I do love exploring France 😍
I love reading about all your adventures to these small towns in France. Next time I go to France I will have to put Ile De Brehat on my list just to see that sunrise!
I would love to visit this place!You photos are so beautiful!
Ile de Brehat looks like such a charming seaside town. I would love to see the lighthouses. The hike also sounds refreshing.
I’m so disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to visit Brittany during our recent trip to France. We fell in love with France, and we know we’ve only just scratched the surface of this country. This islands looks like it’s got a lot more going on that the little island we stayed on for a week, off the coast of La Rochelle, having the animals on the island is a bonus. And the landscape is so dramatic.
I’ve been to this incredible archipelago and I was blown away by its beauty and natural land formations. I went to research an eco island for a project I was working on at the time in Australia, looking for inspiration. What I found was a heart swelling with joy. It really blew me away. I felt like I’d stepped into a fairytale. Each turn, the landscape was so picturesque. Each vista seemed surreal. This truly is an idyllic place to find inspiration. Serenity. Beauty. I especially loved that there are no cars. And free range farm animals on the north island. I felt deeply connected to nature here and it felt satisfying to be quickly attuned to the natural rhythms of Mother Nature. The changing tides make for interesting contrasts in the landscape. This truly is a delightful destination. And the scallops! Yum!
@Kylie, I am so glad to hear about our experiences. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and want to go back. I would love to rent a home for the winter! We weren’t able to get scallops on the island while we were there, but enjoyed the festival in Paimpol!