Weekend in Ouessant, the island at the end of the world
Next stop: Ouessant, or the island at the end of the world, the westernmost of mainland France! Never has an island embodied so well the name of its department, Finistère, "where the earth stops"... I am taking you with me to spend two days on this Breton jewel, which I absolutely wanted to show my boyfriend after having spent a few days there ten years ago: I just fell in love with it!
We embarked on a Saturday morning in May from the port of Brest to reach this island of a thousand facets. The weather hesitates between sun and clouds, a beautiful day is looming. After a stopover at Le Conquet, then at Molène and about 2h30 of crossing, we arrive at the port of Stiff, in the east of the island. Without further ado, we head to the bike rental company with whom we had reserved our two bikes for the day (there are several of them waiting for you at the landing stage, you will be spoiled for choice!). The bike being the best way to discover the island in a short time, we were not the only ones to have had this idea but for our part chose the sporty version by giving up the electric bike, which is after all not that hard, even for me who am not at all used to cycling!
After a few photos and a little sunscreen (beware of the Breton climate where you quickly become red as a beetroot even with clouds!), we're off to the Stiff lighthouse, a few minutes away. Built in 1695, it is one of the oldest lighthouses in France still in operation. It was even classified as a Historic Monument in 2011. From its height of 33 meters, it will offer you a very pretty view of the Iroise Sea, once you have climbed its 104 steps.
We then pedal along the bay of Beninou, abandoning our bikes from time to time to get as close as possible to the coast (be careful, the coastal paths are for pedestrians only). Despite the boat full of passengers, it feels like we're alone in the world in the middle of the ouessantine moor, which allows us to soak up even more the wild beauty of the island: its multicoloured flowers, its dark grey rocks that stand out against the sea and its sheep grazing here and there in complete freedom, it's just beautiful.
After a little picnic sheltered from the wind, we take our bikes back to approach the island of Keller, which is so closed to the coast that one would think it's linked to it. We stop a little further near Yusin beach for a little break on the mossy grass, the best mattress in the world! We even have the chance to see a seal, which we first take for a buoy with its big grey head sticking out of the water. Lulled by the sound of the waves, our faces caressed by the timid rays of the sun, it was hard to get up and leave!
We then head to the far west of the island, where the Creac'h lighthouse stands. We cross the charming village of Lampaul with its blue shutters, its lace curtains and its small shops, and have to climb the slope (which seemed less difficult from afar!) leading to the lighthouse. This large tower decorated with black and white bands, whose name means "promontory" in Breton, is one of the most powerful lighthouses in the world and has guided sailors to enter the English Channel since 1863.
After dropping off our bikes, we approach the coast and come across a completely different landscape, the same as in my memories: the waves come crashing down on the rocks, offering a magnificent contrast between the blue of the sky which reflects in the sea and the foam of a dazzling whiteness of the waves flowing back against these unmovable rocks. The opportunity to take great photos and fill our lungs with iodized air...
We continue our walk to the "Pointe de Pern" (Pern headland) which offers us a spectacle that is just as agitated and poetic at the same time, and then cuts across the moor to go back to the Creac'h lighthouse and our bikes. Having decided to visit the island by bike on the first day and on foot on the second, we returned our bikes to the rental company and headed to our hotel located in Lampaul. For dinner, we had booked at the Crêperie du Stang (a good address !): buckwheat pancakes with Molène sausage, salted butter caramel crêpes, all washed down with cider... Validated and approved by the Bretons that we are! We end the day with a superb sunset that we contemplate from the pier a few minutes walk from the creperie. Gorgeous.
After a well-deserved night's sleep, we open the shutters on a grey and rainy sky. Never mind ! Knowing the Breton weather, we had of course planned the raincoats that we were happy to put on. After buying a few small souvenirs, we set off on foot to discover the south of the island. First stage: the "Pointe de Porz Doun" (Porz Doun headland), on the other side of the bay which surrounds Lampaul. This part of the island is even wilder, with its lemon-yellow gorse that stands alongside the Armeria Maritima, this little pink flower that thrives on the coast. We pass by the pretty beach of Porz Goret whose colours, already promising in this grey weather, will undoubtedly have nothing to envy to those of Corsica when the sun will appear...
Arrived at the tip, opposite the Jument lighthouse, the only living beings we came across were a colony of rabbits who are probably not used to being disturbed! A little further on our way, there are sheep and stone walls, elements quite typical of the Ouessant landscape. We continue our hike on the coastal path that runs along the south of the island: between the vertiginous breaches where the waves rush in, the high cliffs which overhang the sea and the creeks with transparent water, we are blown away.
After a welcome picnic, we arrive on the pretty beach of Porz Arland, the opportunity to offer a break to our tired feet (not too long however because we want to go around the headland before returning to the port where our boat is waiting for us). The sun is winning its duel with the clouds and the colours are all the more beautiful. It is on the run that we finish our hike because we are pushed for time, our boat leaving in 30 minutes while we are 25 minutes walk from the port… Dishevelled and out of breath, we arrive fortunately in time and embark on the Fromveur in the middle of other tourists who seem just as delighted as us with their stay on this island that you will love no matter the weather, I guarantee it!
If you want to discover this beautiful island of Ouessant, why not go there for the International Island Book Fair which will be held from July 13 to 16? The opportunity to get a lungful of fresh air but also of culture during this event which will celebrate contemporary Irish writers, these descendants of James Joyce and witnesses-poets of today's Ireland.
On the programme: musical readings, exchanges with Irish writers and residents, round-tables, conferences and poetic workshops, all about the islands, the theme at the heart of this friendly and committed fair, free and open to all. For the festive side, do not miss the dinners (the opportunity to taste the famous stew of lamb cooked in the clods, a speciality of Ouessant), the fest-noz to learn about Breton dance or even the concert of Yoann An Nedeleg whose Uilleann Pipe lets out all the soul of Ireland.
Article written by Camille L.