Le Palais, Belle Île’s main city, is dominated by a star shaped citadel built in the 16th century by the Gondi family, bought by Fouquet and enlarged by Vauban. We visit the citadel and “meet” Fouquet or the Cardinal of Retz, Louis XIV and the “poison affair”, the Chouans and Cadoudal and many more characters, all part of the history of this sentinel of the sea. Today the citadel is a museum and hotel, overlooking the harbour. Here you can discover soldiers’ quarters, prison cells, gunpowder storage and kitchens. Admire the Governor Bastion and its garden view over Le Palais port and little town, the coastline and the islands of Houat and Hoedic.
After your visit, you board the coach for a tour of the wild coast. See Port Coton’s needles – pyramids of rocks wormed and shaped by the ocean where foam may fly like cotton balls on stormy days. Then we head on to the Pointe des Poulains, a stunning area loved by the French actress Sarah Bernhardt. We also visit Kervilahouen – a peaceful inland village where the impressionist painter Claude Monet painted the same stretch of nearly wild coast 36 times in all kinds of weather. Next up is Sauzon, a picturesque harbour over the entrance of a deep estuary, known for its colourful facades. The excursion ends with a drive back to Le Palais and a walk back to the pier.