Breton islands

Breton islands

In total, there are around 1,260 islands and islets along the French coast, although some only exist at low tide. 

  • Islands off the coast of Brittany

    Île de Bréhat (Département 22)
    Population 424 – Surface area 318ha – 3.5km long x 5-9km wide.
    No motorised traffic is allowed on Bréhat, with the exception of a few tractors, making this an exceptionally peaceful and tranquil spot for the island's 424 inhabitants. The Île de Bréhat is surrounded by a dozen small islets of pinkish-orange rock. With its soft, gentle landscapes, the southern part of the island is home to small gardens planted with hydrangeas, figs, mimosas and eucalyptus trees. The northern section is wilder, with open moorland and unspoilt coves. Access by boat throughout the year.
    More information on the Île de Bréhat

    Île de Batz (Département 29)
    Population 596 – Surface area 357ha – 3.5km long x 1.5km wide.
    It only takes about ten minutes to cross to this charming little island which is full of character, with its delightful landscapes of jagged rocks, sand dunes, expanses of pebbles and sandy beaches. The local inhabitants make their living from a combination of coastal fishing and the cultivation of early vegetables, a speciality of the island. Access from Roscoff throughout the year.
    More information on the Île de Batz

    Île d’Ouessant (Département 29)
    Population 951 – Surface area 1558ha – 8km long x 4km at its widest point.
    Local legend has given this island a fearsome reputation. Its violent storms and numerous rocks are feared by the most experienced sailors. Yet, when the sun comes out, the Baie de Lampaul is bathed in an incomparable light, the moorland flowers stand out in the sunshine and the waves crashing against the rocks glint and sparkle in the sun. The natural landscapes on this island are both wild and grandiose. Access by boat from Brest (2hr 15min) and Le Conquet (1hr 15min) throughout the year. Daily flight from Brest (15min).
    More information on the Île d'Ouessant

    Île de Molène (Département 29)
    The Molène archipelago is not marked on every map. This string of green islands, lined with white sandy beaches and surrounded by reefs, is an unspoilt natural paradise. Once inhabited by farmers and wrack gatherers, the islands are now a refuge for birds and rabbits. The archipelago is also a part of the Mer d’Iroise biosphere. Access from Brest (1hr 30min) and Le Conquet (1hr 30) throughout the year. Reservations required.
    More information on the Île de Molène

    Île de Sein (Département 29)
    Population 246 – Surface area 58ha – 1.8km long x 50-500m wide – Highest point 6m – Average altitude 1.50m
    "Qui voit Sein voit sa fin" (If you can see Sein, you can see the end of your life) – this local saying was once popular with sailors who feared the many reefs around the island as well as the violent currents which caused numerous shipwrecks. The island is so flat (despite being named "Sein" which means breast!) that it has been completely covered by the sea several times in the course of its history. The only village on the island consists of houses huddled around very narrow streets, which provide some protection from the strong gusts of wind. Access from Brest and Audierne (1hr) throughout the year.
    For more information: Tel: + 33 (0)2 98 70 90 35

    Archipel des Glénans (Département 29)
    Population: fluctuates – Surface area: difficult to calculate
    Situated 18km off the coast of Fouesnant, this archipelago boasts white sandy beaches and clear waters which conjure up images of more exotic destinations. Eight main islands, a dozen smaller islets and numerous reefs are scattered around a small inner sea known as the "chambre" or "chamber", a favourite port of call for many great sailors over the years. Today, the archipelago, which is inhabited only in summer, is almost entirely dedicated to sailing and water sports and is home to the most famous sailing school in France, as well as an international scuba-diving centre. Access during the season from Beg Meil, Bénodet, Loctudy, Concarneau and Quimper.
    More information on the Archipel des Glénans

    Île de Groix (Département 56)
    Population 2,323 - Surface area 1,770ha – 8km long x 3-4km wide
    Full of character, Groix is both welcoming and wild. Visitors can follow the footpath along the coast (it takes 2 days to walk around the whole island) or explore the inland areas by bike. Discover verdant valleys dotted with fountains and washhouses, as well as hamlets with narrow alleyways and traditional houses. Access from Lorient (45min) throughout the year.
    More information on the Île de Groix

    Belle-Île-en-Mer (Département 56)
    Population 4,834 – Surface area 84km² - 20km long x 5-9km wide.
    This island has a name which makes many promises ("Beautiful island in the sea") and it doesn't disappoint. The largest of the Îles du Ponant offers delightful, varied landscapes, with natural harbours and deep inlets, sheltered coves of turquoise water, vast beaches of fine sand, dunes, and jagged rocks dotted with sea caves. Four villages share this idyllic island: Le Palais, the capital, which is overlooked by its imposing citadel; Sauzon, a charming little port painted in pastel shades; Bangor, with the large Gouphar lighthouse which dominates the whole of this wild coast; and Locmaria, an attractive little town huddled around a small church which is the subject of many local legends. Access from Quiberon (45min) throughout the year.
    More information on Belle-Île-en-Mer

    Houat (Département 56)
    Population 343 – Surface area 228ha - 5km long x 1km wide
    Situated off the coast of the Quiberon peninsula, just opposite the port of Saint-Gildas, the long, narrow island of Houat consists of high, granite cliffs. The village is home to a small, colourful fishing fleet, with lobster ports piled high on its quayside. This is the heart of the island, for which fishing remains the main industry. The rest of the island is a peaceful, natural paradise, with a coastal footpath offering breathtaking views of these idyllic landscapes. Access from Quiberon (45min) throughout the year. Reservation required.
    For more information: E-mail:

    Hoëdic (Département 56)
    Population 119 – Surface area 209ha – 2.5km long x 1km wide.
    Hoëdic is home to around a hundred inhabitants, with a dozen fishing boats providing food for the majority of the families on the island. Everyone knows everyone and the welcome is friendly and genuine. This tiny granite island can be explored in just three blissful hours.
    Access from Quimper (1hr 10min) throughout the year.
    For more information: E-mail:

    Île aux Moines (Département 56)
    Population 619 – Surface area 310ha – 6km long x 3km wide.
    Just 500m separates this island from the mainland (i.e. a 5-minute boat ride), yet you'll feel as though you're in another world. Perfect for exploring on foot or by bike, this small island boasts varied landscapes, with narrow paths criss-crossing mini-hills, heading down into mini-valleys and passing through mini-woods whose names seem to be taken straight out of fairy-tales (the wood of love, wood of regrets, wood of sighs etc). Discover fountains, small chapels and the ruins of old mills hidden in the shade of fig and pine trees. Access from Port-Blanc-en-Baden (5min) throughout the year.
    More information on the Île aux Moines

    Arz (Département 56)
    Population 250 – Archipelago of 10 islands – Surface area 330ha – 5km long
    The tranquil Île d’Arz has retained its rural landscapes and an architectural heritage which bears witness to its rich past, including a beautiful 12th century church, old manor houses, and mills dating from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. A well-maintained coastal footpath runs right around the island, passing sheltered coves and offering superb views of the bay and its numerous green islands. Access from Conleau or Séné Barrara’h (20min) throughout the year.
    More information on the Île d'Arz


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