Ile aux Moines / The Morbihan

First of all a bit about the Golfe de Morbihan: Oft written about in the sailing mags it can be just a tad too far from the UK to fit comfortably into a 2 week holiday.

Effectively a tidal lake about 10 miles by 5 miles. Top right is the ancient and interesting city of Vannes (which can be reached by boat for a very pleasant stay)

Bottom left it is connected to the sea at it’s south west corner at Port Navalo / Port Crousty by a channel just less than half a mile wide.

And it has islands which somehow contrive to amplify the tidal streams to such a point that care is required.

morbihan mpa

Ile aux Moines in the middle. All the water to the right flows via narrow passages top, middle and bottom.

The chart shows just how fast the tidal flows can be:

that shalt not pass...if going in the wrong direction

thou shalt not pass…if going in the wrong direction

So this brings me to a final useful bit about tidal planning:

a) you will go with the flow or go backwards

b) the flow doesn’t change at low tide or high tide: all that water rushing in or out carries on going for a full 2 (yes two) hours after low water / high water.

it’s odd to think that the tide can still be ebbing well after low water, but that is exactly what happens!

Ile aux Moines

And with that useful bit of info let’s cover Ile aux Moines:

  • it’s the largest island in the Morbihan roughly 3 miles by 1.5
  • it now has a small marina with floating pontoons (see 2 short lines of boats in pic below)
  • it has a beach
  • it has some prehistoric stones
  • and is otherwise a charming little island
France, Morbihan, Ile aux Moines, aerial view of boats moored in water

Floating pontoons can be seen on the left. Well serviced by free water taxi. Inadequate depth for a 2m yacht at coefficients above 90, approach close to the ferry berths

“An otherwise a charming little island”. Well it might be out of high season.

Ile aux Moines is less than 1/4 mile from the mainland and the tourist industry in this already popular region has developed what can only be described as an industrial scale ferry service to bring tourists onto the island in vast numbers.

And on arrival tourists run the guantlet of restaurant / bar/ ice cream shop /cycle hire, repeated several times before reaching the safety of the island itself.

Ambling around the narrow lanes is not for the faint hearted either: cyclists, scooterists and a modicum of vans & taxi are all occupying the same narrow lanes as you.

Huge numbers of tourists ebb and flow

Huge numbers of tourists ebb and flow

So if you are considering a visit to this part of the world, then:

  • Arrive at the entrance 2 hours after low water and your passage will be a joy
  • Visit Ile aux Moines out of season if at all possible to best get that “charming little island” effect
  • Visit Vannes any time – it’s a must

At the time of writing, in the last week of August, blessed by fine warm weather the high season has been giving a bit of a fillip and the French are making good use of the last week before school holidays finish on the 30th.

We might go back to Ile aux Moines soon…..