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The Wild, Wild Coast

Follow the D768 south from Carnac over the isthmus connecting the mainland to Quiberon, with its crescent of white sand. You’ll probably see weathered Breton fishers hauling in their sardine catch.

The entire Côte Sauvage, or Wild Coast, is rugged and dramatic, with waves breaking ferociously against the reefs. Winds, especially in winter, lash the dunes, shaving the short pines that grow here. On the landward side, the beach is calm and relatively protected.

A 45-minute ferry ride from Quiberon is Belle-Ile-en-Mer, an 83 sq. km (32 sq. miles) outpost of sand, rock, and vegetation. It feels blissfully isolated, despite a scattering of hotels and seasonal restaurants. Depending on the season, 5 to 15 ferries depart daily from Port Maria in Quiberon ([tel] 08-20-05-61-56). A round-trip ticket costs 33.65€ for adults, 21.90€ for ages 4 to 17, and free for children 3 and under. In summer, you must reserve space for your car, as well as for passengers. The ferry docks at Le Palais, a fortified 16th-century port that is the island’s window to mainland France. The Office de Tourisme is here, on Quai Bonnelle Le Palais ([tel] 02-97-31-81-93).

Excellent accommodation and dining can be found in Port de Goulphar, an inlet on the southern shore framed by cliffs. The standout is the 63-unit Relais & Châteaux property Castel Clara, (www.castel-clara.com; [tel] 02-97-31-84-21) with restful rooms, two heated swimming pools (one seawater), and extensive spa services. Ideal service and first-class cuisine add to the sense of peace. Depending on the season, and on the view from the room (sea or garden), rates range from 120€ to 385€ in a double, 335€ to 515€ in a suite. The hotel is closed from mid-November to mid-December.

 

A fitting souvenir are sardines from La Belle-Iloise boutique on the Place de la République (www.labelleiloise.fr; [tel] 02-97-31-29-14). Even if you don’t like sardines, the attractive tins make unusual objets. The last cannery in Belle-Ile-en-Mer closed in 1975, but production continues in Quiberon, and Belle-Iloise boutiques can be found in most Breton towns.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.