As well as its main islands, Finistère has a large number of remarkable islets dotted around its many kilometres of coasts. The Île Verte near Nevez, the Île de l’Aber in Douarnenez Bay, the Île de Tibidy at the mouth of the River Aulne, and several islands at the entrance to the abers and in Morlaix Bay, each with its own charms that are almost impossible to resist.
Some of these islands, such as Callot (in Morlaix Bay) and the Île Vierge (near Plouguerneau) are accessible from nearby ports. Head off for an adventure and discover what they have in store for you!
Located in the heart of Morlaix Bay, Île Callot is an island you can walk to at low tide. It’s a thin strip of land, 2.125km long and only 30m to 300m wide, stretching away into the sea north of Carantec.
Île Callot was long used for its granite, especially in the 17th century, as this hardwearing stone was chosen for many buildings in the area including part of the iconic viaduct and the Tobacco Factory in Morlaix. These days, granite quarries have been replaced by market gardens and crops. To the north, there is a protected nature reserve.
On the island’s summit, you’ll find the chapel Notre Dame de Kallod, a pilgrimage site since the 6th century. It has been rebuilt several times, which is why the chapel you can see now dates mostly from the 17th century. Its bell tower won Historic Monument status in 1914.
Practical Info: there are two car parks at the entrance to the island. This means that you can head to the island on foot or on your bike (although you can’t cycle in the nature reserve).
Please note: visitors are asked to leave their cars on the mainland in July and August. Also, do be aware of the tides so that you can be sure of getting back safely in good time!
Île Vierge is located just 1.5km from the coast, at the north-east of the entrance to the Aber-Wrac’h in north Finistère.
Its lighthouse is the tallest in Europe, made of cut stone that rises an impressive 82.5 metres. You’ll need to climb 365 steps if you want to enjoy the breath-taking panoramic views from this granite tower. As you climb, you can admire the unique 12,500 tiles of blue-tinted opaline that line the staircase.
The old lighthouse, 33m tall, is just nearby. It is used as a daymark, and its foghorn is occasionally put to good use.
This island was once a Druid sanctuary, where Franciscan Friars Minor - also known as Cordeliers or Observantins - founded a monastery in the mid-15th century. They stayed for a few decades before returning to the mainland.
Practical information: to get to the island, you can take a boat from Landéda with the boat company Les Vedettes des Abers. The lighthouse is open from April to October. Prices: 3€/adult, 2€/child, 10€/family ticket.
Île Tristan, off the coast of the town of Douarnenez, takes its name from the legend of Tristan and Isolde. This island covers 17 acres and since 1995 it has belonged to the French coastal protection agency, ‘Conservatoire du Littoral’.
The island still bears all the traces of its history, from its old canning factory, its fort, its grand manor and of course the stories of the brigand La Fontenelle (said to have buried his treasure here). It’s a very green island, dotted with moorland, orchards and an exotic garden.
You can walk across to the island at certain times of the year, at low tide.
It is occasionally open to the general public, but Douarnenez Tourist Office offers guided visits throughout the year depending on tides and accessibility.