Considering whether you should visit the Glénan Islands with kids during your next holiday to Brittany? You would be crazy not to!
The Glénan Islands were the main reason that we decided to take a road trip around Brittany in the summer holidays. As soon as I read about the turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches in this article written by Nell, at the Pigeon Pair and Me, I knew I had to experience a boat ride to the Glénan archipelago.
The Glénan Islands certainly didn’t disappoint. We truly felt like we were in the Caribbean…
The tourist board organised our boat trip with an experienced guide, Lulu for the last day of our two-week holiday. We met the lovely Lulu at the little dock of Beg Meil in Fouesnant.
Shortly afterwards we boarded our boat for the short one hour crossing over to the isle of Saint-Nicolas des Glénan, located just 16 km off the south coast of Finistère.
Lulu immediately made everyone onboard feel welcome and shared her passion for the region with stories of pirates and the rare plants and birds which live on the protected islands. We enjoyed a lovely calm crossing on an open-topped boat, chatting to other people onboard whilst taking photos of the stunning scenery.
When we arrived at Saint-Nicolas Lulu explained that the large island of 14 hectares is the only one of the Glénan Islands open to the public. It is home to Frances smallest nature reserve created to protect the Glénan Narcissus, a beautiful white flower that covers the island in the spring.
We stayed with Lulu and our group for a little while for the start of her guided tour around Saint-Nicolas.
When my boys began to pester to go for a swim we headed off on our own to experience the crystal clear waters. There simply could not have been a better place to enjoy the last day of our holiday in Brittany…
What to expect from a visit to Saint Nicholas
The facilities on Saint Nicholas are limited to just a couple of restaurants and ice cream stall overlooking the harbour, a few holiday apartments and the internationally renowned diving school and not-for-profit sailing school.
The Glénan islands don’t have mains electricity or water and Saint Nicholas only has very limited toilet facilities for day visitors. (Although our guide did point out that this is due to change for the next season, due to an investment by the local government). Due to the popularity of the island in the spring and summer months and the region being a resting place for rare birds and sea life, there is thankfully a strong commitment to conserving the area. We found many signs dotted around asking visitors to take litter home with them and visitors are encouraged to stay on the main wooden walk ways to prevent footpath erosion.
The highlight of the day for my boys was when three dolphins decided to put on a little show during our boat journey home… You’ll just have to believe me though I’m afraid as I wasn’t quick enough to get my camera out to capture the playful trio jumping over the waves!
Tips for visiting the Îles de Glénan / Glénan Islands with kids
* There are several boat operators who offer a service out to the Glénan Islands. Families with older children will thoroughly enjoy the guided tour by Lulu. They will be fascinated learning about how the islands flora and fauna are being protected and will enjoy a visit to the Cigogne fort, built in 1755 to drive away pirates from the islands. Families with younger kids like mine are most probably best booking a boat tour without guide to enjoy free time to explore the beaches and enjoy swimming.
* There is a wooden path around the entire island of Saint Nicholas making it easy to get around with kids in push chairs (see photo of my Dad pushing my youngest son above!) The crew were really helpful getting our push chair on and off the boat.
* The cafe/restaurant which we visited at the end of our day for an ice cream was incredibly busy and I was very pleased that we had taken a picnic. (Although the toilet facilities are limited at the moment this is going to improve for next season).
* Make sure you pack swimwear, towel, suncream and beach toys for visiting the Glénan Islands with kids. (I wish we had packed a wind shield too because at times it did feel a little nippy when the sun popped behind a cloud).
* If you intend to spend your visit bird watching and exploring the island, binoculars and walking shoes are a must.
* And last but certainly not least, you can only visit the Glénan islands during the spring and summer months and it is extremely popular so you must book in advance to avoid disappointment. The daily ferries operate from Loctudy, Bénodet, Concarneau and Beg-Meil.
Have you visited the Glénan Islands with kids? Please do pop your thoughts and tips below. We would love to hear about your experience.
Disclosure – We were invited as guests of Brittany Tourist Board to review the guided boat tour to Saint Nicholas as part of our two week road trip around Brittany. All words and opinions are, as always, my own.
Pin for later