12. Belle-Île

Belle-Île is located at marker 12 on the map of Brittany below.

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Belle-Île (pop 5200) is the largest island of Brittany, comprising of 4 municipalities that combine to form a canton. It is a popular summer destination that offers the Wild Coast (Côte Sauvage) and beaches at its southwest and harbours on its northeast. You enter the island via ferries, at Le Palais or Sauzon.FRANCE BRITTANY MORBIHAN Belle-Île

A 17th century Citadel sits near the Le Palais port, as evidence of the existence of ancient civilisations on the island. Built by Vauban (Marshal of France, military engineer) in 1682, the stoic building sits atop startling star-shaped fortifications. Its interior is an intriguing mix of spiral staircases, cellar doorways and underground passages, which facilitated its function as a prison till 1961.

Now, the citadel houses a museum
Citadelle Vauban [+33 297318417 www.citadellevauban.com/  ad/ch €5.50-6.50/2.50-3.50] that traces the factual and fictional history of the island (as Belle-Île has been featured in many novels such as The Three Musketeers).  

The island also has notable natural sights such as the rock formations at Côte Sauvage (e.g. Grotte de l’Apothicairerie (Caves of the Apothecary) which were named as such due to the cormorant nests that lined the walls like a pharmacist’s medicine jars), and the beaches (Plage des Grands Sables, Plage de Dounant). It also has a 95km coastal footpath where you can hike/bike, soaking in the panoramic ocean views. 
Côte Sauvage's needle-like rock formations inspired Monet's paintings of the area, and can be viewed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.



BELLE-ÎLE MAP:   1. Vauban Citadel  2.  Côte Sauvage 

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