Did you know that the Glénan Archipelago, in Morbihan, French Brittany, consists of nine main islands and a large number of islets? It’s possible to get there with the help of a ferry within a cruise duration of circa 1 hour, where you could enjoy a meal if you take the option. An occasion to taste the Breton specialities like the typical cider and seafruits, like the inenarrable crawfishes. Boats start, from April to September, from the Bénodet, Concarneau, Loctudy, Pors-la-Forêt and Fouesnant-les Glénan harbors until Saint-Nicolas of Glénan, the main island.
During your journey above the ocean, you would cross many islands of this very spread Glénan Archipelago, since the most far away would be the Île des Moutons (Sheeps Island), isolated from the rest of the main group, 7.6 km south of the Mousterlin Point. The Penfret Island, includes the rest of the very grouped archipelago, is located 10.5 km southwest of the tip of Trévignon, on the Brittany coast.
More northern located than the cousin Noirmoutier Island, this granitic geological ensemble would once have been one & same island, very long time ago… It is even supposed that the archipelago would have been formerly attached to the continent (photo credits: Alex Plato).
At first glance, you would be surely amazed by the clarity of the sand and the waters.. in fact, the legend recalls that Glénan would be come from glen in Breton language, meaning clear. It seems that the finesse and the incredible whiteness of this sand would be due to the action of a red alga, the Maërl.
Famous for its nautical club, Les Glénans, the current archipelago is extremely divided, so much that its surface is difficult to calculate. The Google Maps application even couldn’t define all the reefs of the site. However, the seabed is very rich, thanks to that, there’s an International Diving Center, welcoming around 120 divers a day, in order to admire the beauty of the submarine world.
If you don’t wish to get wet, try the Captain Nemo experience, a catamaran with underwater vision, still operated by the Vedettes de l’Odet. Two submerged rooms invite the passengers, to a surrealist panorama, leaving a unique colorful experience, floating on the protected environment of the Atlantic coasts, hiding a wide richness of the marine biodiversity. Those waters are truely an amazing silent world, a home for fishes, crustaceans and starfishes. Many live among the hymanthales, those original seaweeds that look like siren hair (photo credits : Vedettes de l’Odet).
You would savor those places, away from pollution, where the ecosystem reserves many surprises, like the basking shark, with a size up to 7 meters long, it is completely harmless because it only gets plankton for dinner.
Those Glenan islands has sometimes been described as “a glimpse of Tahiti in southern Bretagne”. It is famous for the clarity of the waters of La Chambre, the best anchorage of the archipelago, a protected area in the center-west of the “circle of sea”, often compared to a lagoon. This area extends between the islands of Saint-Nicolas, Drénec, Bananec and Cigogne (famous for its Fort-Cigogne) and serves as an anchorage area for boaters. This Fort-Cigogne, now on renovation, was built in 1755 to dislodge the English corsairs, in order to protect the fishermen and merchants of the coast. This site, never finished, had the chance to be selected as one of the 18 flagship sites for the Loterie du Patrimoine (Heritage Lotto).
You would notice the nature profusion in and around those horizons. Indeed, don’t miss to observe it, from every corner of your promenade in this Classified Site, elected since 1973 and also classified Natura 2000 since 2004. The Glénan Archipelago covers nearly 500 km² of maritime and insular spaces, from the Fouesnantais coast until about 15km southern sides of the islands, aiming to preserve its irreplaceable biological diversity (fauna, flora, natural habitats…).
A hiking is possible through the wooden path, allowing the visitors to go around the island of Saint-Nicolas. During this 1 km walk, you may find a very special pretty white and odorless flower, a plant from between 15 and 40 centimeters high… The Glénan Narcissus is a characteristic species of this Archipelago. Endangered in the 1950s, a natural reserve was created, in 1974, on the main island, Saint-Nicolas to protect this endemic species.
Why wouldn’t you organize your visit depending on their flowering? This one usually takes place (according to Mother Nature of course) from March to April, or even early May (the boats’ departures are often commissioned on).
Concerning the fauna, at the end of this coast, many oystercatchers and broken necklaces plovers nest on the sand, mind to not walk on their eggs!
During high tides, the interior sea, also called La Chambre may be crossed by foot and becomes a paradise for fishermen who could collect abalone and clams under the supervision of the Maritime Gendarmerie.
Due to the isolated location of the islands, just a few inhabitants defy the groovy waves and the rude winter weather, and then stay a few months mainly on the Saint-Nicolas island.
That’s why, this territory was lately electrically connected, through a development of sustainable energies on this specific island, with the installation of photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine, while preserving its environment and its biodiversity.
Moreover, the home city of Fouesnant reaches a project with Enedis, the French energy supplier, to reach an energy autonomy of 90% by 2019 and 100% by 2021. Through this ambitious partnership, Enedis accompanies the Glénan in this project of ecological and energetic transition, by putting its expertise at the service of 24 customers and from 1 000 to 1 500 visitors welcomed per day in summer (with peaks at 3 000).
The walks in Glénan take place for a half day in spring time, or the whole day in summer.
Reservations are required for the outing, at the Tourist Office of Fouesnant Glénan at 00 33 (0)2 98 51 18 88 – firstname.lastname@example.org