The îles du Ponant
8 days with Ponant Rating:
DAY 1 – LORIENT
Departure at 19H15.
Rebuilt after the bombings of the Second World War, Lorient is known as the town of five ports: the military port (the Keroman submarine base is designed to hold twenty or so submarines and their crew), a pleasure port, a fishing port which is the second largest in France, a commercial port and a passenger port. There are two unmissable visits: the museum space dedicated to submarines, home to a submarine named Flore and located in the former German military base, and the Cité de la Voile Éric Tabarly, an interactive sailing museum about yachting and the great sea races. Let yourself fall under the charm of the view from the Port-Louis citadel and the quays, evoking the prosperous past of this Breton town, coloured with silks and spices.
DAY 2 – HOUAT; BELLE-ÎLE-EN-MER
Lying to the South of Brittany, Belle-Île is very aptly named. The largest of the Ponant islands, it owes its glowing reputation to its exceptional environment and generous natural attributes: pristine moors and dunes, headlands and cliffs cut into granite points, rocky inlets, and sheltered bays with sandy or pebble beaches. Aboard your ship, let the wild coastline of Belle-île-en-Mer surprise you, this little speck of land lying on the ocean, sparkling with colours in the morning light.
DAY 3 – SAILING AROUND HOËDIC ISLAND; PORT-NAVALO
Port-Navalo is located at the entrance to the Gulf of Morbihan, at the extreme tip of the Rhuys peninsula. The view over Locmariaquer, at the other side of the gulf as well as over the Quiberon peninsula are exceptional. A charming village of traditional Breton houses, Port-Navalo has always been a resolutely maritime town, a traditional fishing port and a well-protected refuge from the Suroit winds. Do not miss the chance to stroll along the coastal footpath in search of viewpoints over this inland sea that is the gulf, crossed every day by all types of vessels including the famous sinagots with their red sails.
DAY 4 – SAILING ALONG ILE DE GROIX; GLÉNAN ISLANDS; CONCARNEAU
“Qui voit Groix voit sa joie” (“Whoever sees Groix will see its glee”) — this proverb will make perfect sense as soon as your ship starts following the coastlines of Groix Island. Located around 4 nautical miles from Lorient, Groix stretches 8 kilometres long and is home to pretty low houses and colourful gardens. There is much contrast in the panorama: mainly wild and craggy landscapes to the west, and long beaches to the east, inviting conviviality and relaxation. At the beginning of the 20th century, Groix was the leading tuna port in France and the tuna-shaped weathercock, perched atop the church belfry, illustrates this activity.
A little like the Seychelles…The Glénan archipelago and its string of islets offer you a magical spectacle with their white sand beaches and emerald green waters, evoking the exoticism of distant islands. Located around 10 nautical miles from the French mainland, the Glénans are a succession of seven islets, coiled around an interior sea with a paradisiac decor. To the east, Penfret shelters the lighthouse. Further on is the island of Loch, the largest one, recognisable by its chimney stack. Then come Cigogne with its fort, Drenec, Bananec, Guéotec, and finally Saint-Nicolas. The daffodil is the emblematic flower of the Glénan Islands; these pretty white flowers decorate the idyllic landscape of the archipelago in springtime … A waking dream.
An emblematic town in Brittany, it is hard to resist the delights of Concarneau. The "blue town” will astonish and surprise you with its charm and history. Stroll along the streets of the Ville Close, with its remarkable walls and fortifications overlooking Concarneau Bay. Since the siege of the town by Duguesclin in the 16th Century, it has maintained its taste for adventure. The maritime history of the town and its canning industry is examined in the interesting fishing museum (Musée de la Pêche). Also, do not miss the visit to Keriolet Castle, a neo-gothic gem built in the 19th Century by a Russian imperial princess.
DAY 5 – SAILING ALONG ILE DE SEIN; SAILING IN ANSE DE MORGAT, DOUARNENEZ BAY; SAILING ALONG TAS DE POIS; SAILING ALONG ILE DE MOLENE; OUESSANT
The Île de Sein, a simple dash lining the horizon of the Iroise Sea. Only 1.8 kilometres long, located around 5 kilometres from the Pointe du Raz, the island barely emerges from the waves because of its low altitude. Exposed to gusts of wind and the ocean spray, the Île de Sein also has days of luminous calm. From the deck of your ship, you will glimpse the heathland landscape polished by the wind as well as the island’s main port and the small fishermen’s houses nestled along winding lanes.
Between the Crozon Peninsula in the north and the Pointe du Raz in the south, Douarnenez Bay sketches out a vast sailing area that is over 16 kilometres wide and 20 kilometres long. The seaside resort of Morgat can be found to the north, on the Crozon Peninsula, on a beautiful sand beach lying between two rocky outcrops.
The Pointe de Pen Hir is reputed for the six rocks that prolong it, known as the Tas de Pois. Each of them bears a pretty Breton name. To the west, you will see Bern-Id, meaning ‘mound of wheat’, the most charming of them because of its pointed shape like a Chinese hat. Then there are Ar Forc'h and Chelott, Pen Glaz, Petit Daouët and finally, Grand Daouët, which connects to the French mainland. Legend has it that they were built by Titans… The spectacle of the waves coming crashing against the rocks and the very particular and ever-changing light are what make the Tas de Pois so beautiful.
Molène, an island unlike any other. At around 15 kilometres from the west coast of the Finistère, Molène will surprise you with its changing and constantly renewed face. Depending on the seasons and perspectives, on whether the tide is coming in or going out, islets disappear while others appear before our eyes. The view of the beaches of white sand, with turquoise waters, will make some passengers think they’ve arrived in the Pacific islands... With luck, you will be able to see flocks of seabirds and migrating birds, soaring around the Iroise Sea Natural Marine Park.
Chart a course towards the sentinel island, the most westerly point of mainland France, recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1988. Some 7 km long, Ouessant boasts a wild and bitter beauty. Its landscapes carved by the sea and the wind, the vegetation of the moors and the heather, the rocks ceaselessly whipped by the Atlantic waves, are the home to thousands of sea birds. The island has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times, with women dedicating themselves to farming while the men were fishermen and sailors. From Lampaul, the “capital”, you can admire the powerful lighthouses that adorn the Ouessant coastline, including the Créac’h lighthouse, which stands out from the rest with its black and white stripes!
DAY 6 – BRÉHAT ISLAND; SAINT-MALO
The mere mention of Saint-Malo’s name is enough to plunge us back into the richness of its past. The fortifications stand as testimony to the Malouins’ determination to defend their citadel, fought over by France and Britain in turn. When we drop anchor here, immerse yourself in the diversity of its heritage: the time when privateers sailed the oceans in search of trade and victories; the legendary yacht races the port city is still famous for, such as the Route du Rhum; and the final resting place of the French writer François-René de Chateaubriand, who was born here and chose to be buried here anonymously.
DAY 7 – SAINT-MALO
DAY 8 – HONFLEUR
Disembarkation at 00H00.
A treasure of the Côte Fleurie, Honfleur is located on the edge of la Crique de Rouen in Normandy. You will no doubt admire the historical ships moored in its old port. With its tall, slate-covered houses, the quays provide a great setting for a very nice walk. In the streets behind the harbour, you will see many timber houses. These picturesque places were the cradle of several pre-impressionist painters. You can see their works in the Eugène Boudin museum. Exhibited works represent scenes of medieval streets and the coastline as it used to be, as illustrated by the Butin beach and its lush green hillsides.
All This Included
With Lorient as the departure point, set sail aboard L’Austral for an exceptional cruise along the coast of Brittany.
The Ponant Islands, the common theme of this brand-new cruise, are scattered off the Breton coastline. Washed either by the English Channel or by the Atlantic, they owe their name to their Western geographical situation: Ponant meaning literally where the sun sets.
Belle-Île-en-Mer, to the south of Brittany, will be one of the key ports of call. The Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived here for a while and painted the island’s most remarkable site: the jagged rocks known as Les Aiguilles de Port-Coton.
During the voyage, L’Austral will sail along the Houat, Hoëdic, Groix, Sein, Molène, Ouessant, Bréhat Islands… these many islands with wild and preserved coastlines.
You will also call at Concarneau. Originating on the former fortified island and attached to the mainline by a bridge, the ‘ville close’ walled town is one of the most popular places in Brittany. But Concarneau is also a fishing port with enduring folklore and very beautiful beaches.
During your stop in Saint-Malo, a town famous for the legendary Route du Rhum yacht race, lose yourself in the diversity of its heritage, stroll along its rampart walks, and fall under the charm of the city of privateers.
Cruising: Standard cabin onboard L’Austral
Terms and Conditions
For Ponant terms and conditions, please click here.
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.