47:22.450N 003:13.046W

Ariel of Hamble
Jim and Valerie SHURVELL
Sat 6 Jun 2009 13:50

47:22.450N 003:13.046W Island of Belle Ile




We left Lorient early and headed to the island of Belle Ile and the harbour of Sauzon as the weather was very settled.

The island is one of several which lie off Brittany.  Belle Ile is the largest island being 10 miles long and up to 5 miles wide. We picked up two buoys in the outer harbour and just marvelled at how pretty the harbour was.  The houses, hotels and restaurants are all painted in very nice colours and with the sun shining on the water and the other boats it looked very tranquil and welcoming. While we sat eating our lunch on Ariel we heard a cuckoo singing from the pine trees on the opposite side of the harbour. When we went ashore later a green lizard, about 12 inches long ran across our path which gave me a big shock. The local boys were jumping into the sea from the jetty and when we checked on the temperature of the water it was 19.5 so not far off what we would swim in at Bournemouth in the summer.

The British in 1761 captured the island under Admiral Keppel. The Royal Marines for their heroic storming of the citadel on the island were awarded the laurels which surround their cap badge to this day.  Two years later it was restored to France in exchange for Nova Scotia. The families who came and settled from Nova Scotia introduced the potato to the island before it was popular elsewhere.  During the Second World War the German soldiers occupied the island and the prison.  Karl Marx was one of the notable inmates of the prison at one point.

The little shops which are open for the summer season are selling everything from postcards to clothing.  Quite a few shop notices said they would be open the first week in July until the first week in September.  Not a long season.


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