Off of the Vendée coast of western France sits the island île d’yeu. A welcoming and vibrant island which is in my opinion a hidden gem of France.
I know Yeu very well, every time I step on to the island it is like a breath of fresh air, every house is white with low tiled terracotta roofs and coloured shutters, it is truly French.
île d’yeu has every landscape feature, pine forests and impressive cliffs which surround the gorgeous, golden sandy beaches. It is a place of pure tranquil, you can fully relax and let go of your worries.
To get to île d’yeu you can fly in to Nantes, take a coach to Fromentine and then jump on the ferry. Arriving in to the island you can pretty much see the whole circumference, with two main harbours Port Joinville and Port de la Meule and only 5000 inhabitants, it is very small!
Île d’yeu has a strong maritime heritage, with fishing boats docked up every where on the port. It is well known for tuna and lobster, so be sure to grab some fresh fish if you ever find yourself there.
There are not many restaurants in Yeu, in fact there is probably around ten. However this is not the main feature of the island. There is one place which is always busy called Snack-crêperie Martin. A small little restaurant which serves galettes, crepes and patagos in curry sauce. You can choose to take away or eat-in.
One of my favourite things to do on the island is visit the market in the town Saint Saveur. The market is on every morning and finishes at 1pm, it holds stalls for new brands and businesses, handmade jewellery and fresh fruit and vegetables. Afterwards take a stroll around the Eglise de Saint Saveur a stunning Catholic Church.
The Vieux-château de l’île d’yeu is an old castle off of the French Atlantic coast, it is a historical monument which is remarkable, you must go and visit. The aim of the castle was to protect the islanders in the event of foreign invasion. Taken and led by an English pirate in 1355 who held it for 37 years, the French then took it back for themselves in 1381.
I can only describe the style in île d’yeu as traditional. Extremely maritime, blue and white stripes and pale colours. The younger generation a little more modern, but still very French in their style.
A friend of mine has set up a new clothing brand called Brigand des Mer, translation: sea robbers. Still keeping the maritime theme of île d’yeu, but tailored more for the younger generation. The designs are simple and cool.
There are many beaches encompassing the island but I have a few that are my favourite to visit in the sunshine; Plage des Vieilles, Plage des soux and Belle-Maison. Each one is different but all are absolutely beautiful, with silky smooth sand and the noise of the sea surrounding you, it sincerely feels like you are in paradise.
One of the alluring assets of île d’yeu are the magical sunsets in the evening. Cycle to the beach or the end of the island and watch the sun disappear before your evening begins.
Port Joinville is the area which holds all of the bars/restaurants and shops. At night it turns in to party central, every bar is heaving with people drinking and puffing on their cigarettes. The main seating areas are outside so you can watch the excitement going on around you, I thoroughly enjoy the nighttime atmosphere.
There are five bars L’Escadrille, Bar L’Equateur, Le Corsaire, Le BDM Café and Le Maritime. All are lively places and shut at 2am, except Le Corsaire which has a small nightclub on the second floor. Being a small island you would not expect it to have a nightclub, but it certainly does! Les Balleresses is the best and worst nightclub I have ever been to. Full of energy with people stumbling and dancing everywhere, it is undeniably lots of fun!
This French island has a lot to offer, I cannot describe how delightful it is!