Calypso Capers

The bikes blink in the sun as they are recovered from the recesses……

We delayed our departure from Concarneau by a few days due to high winds, giving us less time to explore the Islands of Groix and Belle Ile than we would have liked, before entering the Morbihan and visiting Vannes for Bastille Day celebrations. We intended to stay 2 nights on each island, but enjoyed Groix so much that we stayed 4 nights and missed Belle Ile out altogether – hoping to return after Vannes.

Our 27 nm trip from Concarneau to Port Tudy on Ile De Groix took 5  1/2 hours, nearly all by sail in fairly calm but initially grey and cool conditions. Val, our artist in residence and former art teacher, took the opportunity to do some sketching on the way. You students of art should note the pursed lip technique for concentration:

The entry into Port Tudy is very straightforward – as long as the ferry is not arriving or departing – but the sound of its horns as it does so are deafening and cannot be missed for miles around!  The ferry turns in the small outer harbour, very close to some of the fore-and aft visitor moorings (often rafted) in that part, and the loud horn, forewarning other traffic of its manoeuvres is essential. We opted for the tidal part of the inner harbour so we could walk ashore and get the bikes off easily. Even there a small ferry and the island supply freighter get quite close to the “plaisanciers”

The inner part of the inner harbour is accessed via a lock – which closes as the tide falls to retain sufficient water to keep boats afloat at low tide. That can be seen in the top photo with the bars and restaurants of the port beyond. It is likely that this is mostly for locals, but we think we did see one visitor placed in there when all other walk ashore berths were taken.

Facilities (showers, loos and waste collection) are in a modern building at the edge of the harbour – and are reasonable (ie good enough to use but not the best). The cost for our 11.46m was 29e per night. From memory, taking a buoy would have saved around 10e a night, and they seem reasonably well protected; perhaps not so with strong easterly winds. As we arrived we radioed the bureau de port and a young man came out to meet us in a rib, leading us to the berth – all in all we liked the people and the facilities here.

A slightly strange looking boat was moored in the inner-inner harbour – with a piano strapped to the back! A very pretty young lady (down Shep) with a lovely voice performed to the assembled ferry travellers twice whilst we are here:

It is a 10 minute walk uphill to the town centre with its further restaurants and a small collection of shops plus a decent Carrefour supermarket. A larger Intermarche is a further 5 minute walk out of the town (large village).

We had a picnic lunch in the town square of the usual French fayre – baguette, cheese, tomato and boudin noir. With water, the only non-French style ingredient!

Whilst we describe distances in terms of walking minutes, the island is a mecca for cyclists, and several hire shops thrive here. Not that many people walk!

We loved the island vibe and decided to extend our stay to 4 days, thus bypassing Belle Ile en route to Vannes. This was our favourite stop of the year yet, and so we stayed to enable us to give our folding bikes their first outing. Over 2 days we followed the suggested bike trail around the island, totaling 40 km. By now the weather had improved again and we had cloudless skies and a beating sun, but in spite of sore behinds thoroughly enjoyed cycling through very pretty, old villages; on dirt tracks (some of which were rougher than this one);

…and with stunning coastal scenery:

We tested the water but still a bit chilly so we didn’t swim here:

…..but we did reward ourselves after each day of cycling with a bottle of excellent, chilled rose on a terrace overlooking the inner harbour, where they sold very reasonably priced wine and appetisers (bread/tapenade, saucisson etc) for a change. We have found that in France the cost of beer and wine is quite low in supermarkets but very expensive in bars – 50cl of draught beer (lager) is at least 5.20e and often 6+. I suppose that must be good for the liver!

So – Ile De Groix – very pretty, very quiet, very French – we loved it! However we needed to move on as we wanted to enter Vannes before springs, and not at the weekend (too busy) and in time for Bastille Day – and so needed to move on. The tidal coefficient on our selected day to enter the Morbihan (Friday 7th July) was 66 and heading towards springs (45 being neaps and 100 full springs). Leaving it later would be just too harsh on the nerves! Yep – we had decided that we would, after all, brave the whirpools and serpents of the Morbihan!

Distance traveled since leaving Hamble Point 433 nm

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