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Off the coast of Brittany lies the gorgeous French Island of Belle Île, famed for its relationship with renowned artists and performers who became inspired by its natural beauty of serene ambience. Celebrated actress Sarah Bernhardt eloquently summed up her reasons for loving the island, by saying ‘I love Belle Île for its solitude, its silence, its wildness, its fisherfolk, its transparent grey-green sea, its sky, now blue, now black...for the dreams, the ideals and the beauty that I find there.' The island has captured the imagination of travellers over the years, drawing people back again and again with its inspiring scenery alongside its rich history and heritage.
One of Belle Île's main attractions is the island's incredible natural landscape, where craggy rock faces meet crashing ocean waves and tranquil beaches stretch along stunning coastlines. The coastline is home to a range of rare plant species and nesting birds, which can be seen from the edge of the island. The community of Belle Île takes pride in conserving the local environment by protecting biodiversity, raising awareness and monitoring plant and animals species. The island also boasts a collection of historic architecture and ornate structures distributed throughout the region.
The church in Locmaria is the oldest religious building on the island, built during the 11th century and renovated in the 17th century in a traditional Romanesque style. The church once attracted pilgrims from across the world, coming to thank Notre-Dame de Bois Tors, which translates to Our Twisted Lady of the Wood.
Grand Phare Lighthouse
Erected in 1836, the Grand Phare Lighthouse stands 52 metres tall with a granite and iron staircase consisting of 213 steps. Visitors are welcome to climb to the top of the lighthouse and those who do are rewarded with extraordinary panoramic views of the island.
Aiguilles de Port Coton
This jagged rock formation situated off the coast of the island gained fame after it was depicted in one of the prominent French artist Claude Monet's paintings. The waves around these rocks often swell to form dramatic displays, which are worth seeing whilst staying in Belle Île.
Belle Île is an excellent place to shop for locally produced arts and crafts. Workshops and artisan retailers are situated across the island, selling a variety of crafts and souvenirs including paintings, glassware, furniture and other household items and decor. A bustling marketplace is open every day at Place de la Republique in Le Palais, where visitors can purchase local produce from fish and vegetables to arts and crafts. Other markets around the island are located at Locmaria and Sauzon.
The island contains a range of first rate cafes, bistros and restaurants at which tourist at locals can find exquisite meals. Belle Île‘s restaurants serve authentic French cuisine as well as a range of international dishes. Many of the island's restaurants also offer spectacular views, looking out over Belle Île's beautiful natural landscape.
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