Published on 17 october 2013 at 0h00
Brittany is the land of Merlin the magician, fairies, elves, and magic forests, but is also a wildly beautiful seafaring country! To be discovered or rediscovered as a matter of urgency for a catamaran cruising!
When we mention the maritime side of Brittany, we immediately think of La Trinité sur Mer, Lorient or Port La Foret, a Mecca for ocean racing if ever there was one.
And then there is the leisure sailing side of Brittany, with names of islands or archipelagos which have us dreaming: Bréhat, Houat, Hoëdic, Belle-Île, Iles aux Moines, Ushant, Glénan...
Finally, there is the Golfe du Morbihan, the rivers, which are as typical as they are disorienting, the oysters and the wild, isolated anchorages, even in the middle of summer.
Brittany has to be earned, and demands good nautical common sense, as well as a love of playing with the tides and following developments in the weather closely. Then, and only then, Brittany will open up to you and show you its beauty. Don’t hesitate; you won’t be disappointed!
How do you get to know a region which is so rich in anchorages, without forgetting some magical place or other? We asked Anthoine Guyomar, a multihull enthusiast from Oceans Evasion, a charter advice agency based in Lorient, to concoct for us a one-week trip in his beautiful region. Beware: as always, and especially in Brittany, it’s the weather which will finally decide on your stopovers.
Arrival in Lorient, take over the boat, provisioning; it is then time to leave, after the traditional briefing. We head south towards Groix for the midday picnic. Groix is less than two hours’ sailing from the pontoon. A first sail which will allow you to get used to the boat before discovering the ‘Sables Rouges’ beach on Groix. You will quickly understand the reason for this name when you see the beach’s sand... This nice day-time anchorage will allow you to have a swim, before setting off for Belle Ile. Reckon on between 4 and 5 hours’ sailing to reach Sauzon, where we are going to dry out for the night in the old fishing port. The sandy seabed is perfect for drying out, and Sauzon’s restaurants await you, so you can enjoy the evening...
Sunday morning, after a relaxed start to the day, we head east to the island of Houat, which is reached after two short hours' sailing. Houat’s west coast offers a multitude of wild little creeks. Here, certain of the magazine’s readers have seen Francis Joyon in person hunting for spider crabs... After lunch, we leave Houat to starboard, heading north, passing the Beniguet or the famous Teignouse channel to enter and enjoy the wonderful Quiberon Bay. The sea here is calm and the sea breeze is often present in the afternoon. Enough to enjoy your multi to the full...
For the night, we return to Houat, and anchor at Treac’h er Goured, or, depending on the wind, at Treac’h er Salus.Quite simply sumptuous. Houat village is just a 10-minute walk away...
This morning, we get up early and head due south, to go and discover the wild coast of Belle Ile. We reach it in less than two hours of pleasant sailing. But beware, Belle Ile’s windward coast is only accessible when the weather is set fine, as the residual swell from the west can be (very) present. It is therefore best avoided after a depression... For the night, we are going to sleep in the Port Kerel anchorage, where we can choose to dry out or remain afloat. If the swell is a nuisance, Port Herlin should be calmer. The walk to Bangor (20 minute walk) on the rocky plateau about forty metres above the waves is superb.
We leave early in the morning, to stop at Groix at midday, at Port Nicolas, a little anchorage which is ideal for underwater fishing enthusiasts. After a break, we continue north-east, to find ourselves in the mouth of two of Brittany’s mythical rivers. To starboard, the Belon; to port, the Aven, which leads to Pont Aven and which we are going to motor up for three quarters of an hour to pick up a mooring buoy at Kerdruc or Rosbraz. Beware: you have to moor fore and aft to buoys, as the current in this river is particularly strong. Ideally, moreover, you should enter the rivers in the middle or at the end of the flood, to avoid the current. As the anchorage is prized, it is best not to arrive too late in the afternoon, to be sure of having a place. This evening, at the Bistrot de l’Ecailler, we eat the wonderful ‘homard au kari gosse’, the famous spice from the Lorient area. Yum!
If possible, we must leave with the tide, to avoid the current, then we pass between the Ile Verte and Raguenez. We round the Trévignon headland and head north-west to discover Concarneau bay. We can use the day to go and see the racing multihulls pontoon at Port la Foret, or go sailing in this well-protected bay and get the bows of your multihull smoking... For lunch, we can stop at Port la Foret or Beg Meil, a pretty seaside village where we anchor just opposite the big slipway, in front of a superb beach...
For the evening’s anchorage, we have to go to Benodet bay, and by sailing up the river we are bound to find a welcoming mooring buoy at Sainte Marine. This evening, we are going to eat at the Café du Port, unless you are more tempted by the ‘creperie’ just next door? The choice is yours!
This morning, it will take us 2 to 3 hours to sail to the fabulous Glénan archipelago. Here we are truly in paradise. To be tasted without moderation, however be careful of the rocks and sandbanks... At midday, we can stop at the La Pie anchorage, between Saint Nicolas and Bananec. If the tide is right, we can beach here with no problems. Then we can, for example, sail round Saint Nicolas island via the east, and spend the night north of the island of Loc’h. We anchor here on a sandy seabed, with good holding. Beware, at spring tides, you will dry out here at low tide.
That’s it... It’s already almost finished, and it’s time to go back to the base... We get up early and head west, taking advantage of a stop on the Merrien river. It’s sumptuous, and there are two visitors’ buoys just before the main anchorage. Here we take the dinghy and cover a few metres to the oyster farmer just above the slipway, to stock up with oysters for the days to come...
It’s midday, and you have three hours to get back to Lorient, and recall all the beauties Brittany has offered you. One thing is certain, next time you’ll stay longer...
You can reach Lorient by train (3hrs 40min from Paris), by car (500km from Paris) or by air (Lorient International airport).
You can sail all the year round in Brittany... But the season begins in May and lasts until mid-September. The days can be very fine, but gales are not impossible... It is essential to follow the weather forecasts closely and revise your tidal calculations before embarking.
The currency is the euro.
Not to be missed:
Concarneau bay, the Glénan, Benodet, Douarnenez and the Iroise Sea towards the north, leaving from Lorient, and towards the south Belle Ile, the Golfe du Morbihan, Houat and Quiberon bay...
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