Belle île, what a gorgeous place to visit and wind down – pretty town, the aquamarine sea and wave carved rocks! This is the penultimate phase of my long time away from home – just a last week in England after this…

But first, let’s finish up the art retreat. Two of the group left on Saturday afternoon and the rest of us in two different directions – this meant ordering three separate taxis to make sure everyone got to their destinations on time. Not possible to book taxis online, and this time it was not my friend at the Taxi office but a ‘non English’ speaker on the other end. The adrenaline rush when I got it right!! And all the taxis arrived on time over the next two days. Whew!

After saying goodbye to all my lovely ladies I took the train from Tours to Vannes via Nantes – my two friends, Jill and Gillian got onto the same train, same carriage at Angers St Laud and we travelled the rest of the day with much reminiscing (I stayed with Gillian at the Farm and in Lyon) and laughter to the harbour front at Vannes. I had been so longing to be by the sea again – am definitely missing my daily walks along the beach at Lennox Head.

Vannes started as a Roman town and you can see the Roman walls – much still intact – and also the medieval period, but I just loved walking around the harbour and staying in our lovely hotel L’Ocean with my view of the port and a great meal in their restaurant.

Up and about early the next morning to catch the ferry from Vannes to Le Palais on Belle Île. It takes a couple of hours but well worth the trip across the Morbihan Gulf through islands, watching shorelines – we saw an Iron Age Barrow and Dolmen from the boat. The entrance to the harbour at Le Palais was beautiful – two stone walls forming arms into the sea with a light on each – red for port and green for starboard and a narrow space between the two to get to our landing quay.

Crowds on the dock! Where is Christophe, who has the key to our Air Bnb? A bit of messing around and we soon found him outside our funny, narrow little house – three stories, no ground floor but right on the harbour looking across to The Citadel – a vast fortification you can’t miss! But glorious for boat and people watching from our little sitting room. Did a bit of painting/sketching of the harbour and just enjoyed seeing people messing about in boats, the big car ferries coming in and disgorging their cargo and watching the truck drivers masterfully getting their machines into what looks like a tiny space for the next journey to the mainland.

Jill and I spent Tuesday catching a bus to the famous needle sharp coast of Belle Île – Port Coton – the part where Claude Monet and John Russell found inspiration – and more recently Luke Sciberras and Euan McLeod (exhibition on at King Street Gallery at the moment). We started in rain, but ended in brilliant sunshine – sketched the rocks, went for a walk to the cafe and (closed) lighthouse and ate delicious ice cream (pistachio and salted caramel for me!) The village of Kervilahouen where the cafe was situated was very pretty and colourful.

After returning to Le Palais we walked over a few hills and steps to a small beach, Ramonette, where it was sooo delightful to have a swim in the turquoise water! The town is too delightful – picture post cards absolutely everywhere you look and patisseries, a market daily, evening drinks by the quay in a place where the wifi actually works!

Categories: Art Retreats Travel

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