A beautiful island, Noirmoustier!

And yes we do have plenty of islands in metropolitan France. they are some of prettiest islands you can imagine and still most little visited. I am lucky to have several nice ones around the Gulf of Morbihan, but even down the coast south you have a wonderful universe!

I am from nature a lover of these islands, reminds me of my roots in double islands of our world. Coming to them is always pleasant and full of expectations. The one I will tell you today is no difference. The Noirmoutier island is heavens on earth, so much you need to book in advance for the best season, and can be a bit pricey for that.

And let me give you a more historical/geographical view on the ïle de Noirmoutier! Don’t forget to see my several posts on the island.

The island of Noirmoutier is in the Bay of Biscay located in the Department of the Vendée (85). It is connected to the mainland by a submersible roadway called the Passage du Gois and, since 1971, by a bridge. It is made up of four communes in a community of communes of Île-de-Noirmoutier. Its length is approximately 18 km, its width varies from 500 meters to 12 km and its area is 49 km2. It lies south of the Loire estuary, northeast of the island of Yeu and southeast of Belle-Ile-en-Mer (Morbihan Breton!) . Separated from the mainland by the Strait of Fromentine, located at its southern end, it closes the Bay of Bourgneuf or Bay of Brittany, in its western and southern part. The island is often dubbed the “island of the Mimosas” for its climatic sweetness allowing the mimosas to grow and bloom in winter. Its dominant landscapes are salt marshes, dunes and holm oak forests.

Until the beginning of the 19C, the island of Noirmoutier had only one town with a seat at the village of Noirmoutier. Barbâtre became independent in 1858 before the constitution of two other communes some sixty years later in 1919 these are Guérinière and L’Epine.  The main towns are today:

The city of Noirmoutier located in the northeast of the island and its historic capital. Its center is marked by old monuments such as the Castle, the Church of Saint-Philbert, the hotel Jacobsen, etc. includes, salt marshes, an agricultural plain, the seaside resort of the Bois de la Chaize, the fishing port and the pleasure port , the old Abbey of La Blanche as well as the two villages of the Vieil and Herbaudière. The rocky nature of the coasts makes the beaches rather smaller than those that border the Bois de la Chaize (ex: Plage des Dames , Souzeaux beach, and  L’Anse Rouge.

Noirmoustier Noirmoutier noirmoutier noirmoutier noirmoutier

The village of L’Epine is located to the west of the island comprises a part of the salt marshes, the port of Morin (north of the village), a part of the Bois des Eloux (south of the village) and the Moulin de la Bosse. The beaches of L’Epine form a continuous sandy cord bearing different denominations according to the zones (plage Saint-Jean,plage de la Martinière.,beaches, punctuated by breakwaters which contribute to the defense of the island against the sea.

The village of La Guérinière is located in the centre of the island. With the seaside village of Sable d’Or and Sable de la Tresson, located to the south of the town. The sandy beach of the Guérinière offers a view of the bouchots (mussel culture) and the Huïtres parks installed at sea and visible at low tide. At the beach la Cantine,see old WWII bunkers.

noirmoutier noirmoutier

The village of Barbâtre, of rangy form by the extension of the suburban subdivisions , is the southernmost municipality of the island, it comprises the two routes connecting the island of Noirmoutier to the mainland: the Gois (passage du Gois submersible Road) and the new bridge. The urbanization of the 20C has extended the village to the old hamlets of Midi, Frandière and the Fosse. The beach of Midi is the beach of Barbâtre, it is the longest of the island, sandy cordon of more than 5 km long.

The village of  Vieil is located to the north of Noirmoutier and is part of its communal territory. It is a peaceful village of quiet streets stretching between the Bois de la Chaize and the Bois de la Blanche. The beaches are pretty rocky.

The village of Herbaudière is located in the north-west of the island, also integrated into the commune of Noirmoutier. It is the fishing port and the main marina of the island. The beach of Luzeronde, south of the Herbaudière, is sandy and quite steeply inclined, it offers a view on the island of the Pilier (north-west of the island).

For reference as not gone to any of these are in the south of the island the state Forest of Barbâtre in the northeast is the forest of the Bois de la Chaize on the west and south side, the small national Bois des Éloux. Natural setting for the nature lover in you.

A bit on the transports in and out

Until 1971, the island of Noirmoutier was an island accessible at low tide through the famous Passage du Gois ,a roadway about 4.5 km across the south of Bourgneuf Bay. Since then, a bridge supporting the D38 road also connects it to the mainland. I did the going to the island by the modern bridge coming from Nantes and then the return passed the Gois passage, super a must to do! This road the D38 travels the island from south to north to the port of the L’Epine, and the port of the Morin. From the Guérinière, the D948 road (very good road and scenic) crosses the salt marshes to reach Noirmoutier. Again , not use for information only: During the whole year, the bus station of Noirmoutier is served by a bus service connecting Nantes (Nantes train station) and La Roche-sur-Yon (Departmental network Cap Vendée). Also, the departmental Council of the Vendée set up an island service called the Bus d’ïle (Bus of the island) serving nearly thirty stops, while during the same time, the city of Noirmoutier organizes a free shuttle service “Gratibus” Ensuring daily connections between the Vieil , the Herbaudière and the village of Noirmoutier.

A bit of history I like

The story goes much older even with megalith stones found but I will keep it brief and later history. It was on the old island of Her or Hero that the monk Saint Philibert settled in 674. There he founded a monastery which was later at the origin of that of Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu. He organized the salt harvest and the construction of many dikes. To fight against the Viking invasions, the Lords of the Garnache, the owners of the places, as well as the monks, built successive fortifications from 830.

noirmoutier

The island of Noirmoutier, like the ancient island of Bouin (now attached to the mainland), depended before the French revolution of the lordship of the Garnache, fief sometimes Poitevin (Duchy of Aquitaine and County of Poitou) in the Middle Ages, sometimes linked to Brittany with Breton expansion in the 9C broken by Viking incursions, then legal links with the Brittany marches region from the 16C to the 17C.

In the course of its history, the island suffered several attempts at invasions: English (1342, 1360, 1386); Spanish (1524, 1588). However, could not resist the Dutch invasion of 1674 by Admiral Cornelis Tromp.

In the 15C, the island of Noirmoutier is attached to the Thouars, which belongs to the family of Amboise. In March 1479, by his patent letters, King Louis XI confirmed the privileges granted by king Charles VII. In 1562, the Huguenots Corsairs from La Rochelle took over the island, which they made a sanctuary until 1569. During the French revolution, the island was the scene of two battles of the War of Vendée (for the maintain of the monarchy and Catholic faith): the first in 1793 resulted in a Vendée victory, While the second the following year saw the defeat of the latter.

Things to see in my opinion here are

The climate of the island also promoted very early the production of sea salt. Thus, as early as the 5C, the Benedictine monks began to transform the wetlands into salt marshes in order to harvest the white gold. These cover a large part of the island territory today. The salt and the flower of salt are still harvested in artisanal fashion and the production reaches, the best years, 1 500 tons of salt.

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The Castle of Noirmoutier dating from the 9C; the Church of Saint-Philbert, a former Benedictine abbey with Romanesque and Gothic style. It contains a beautiful crypt of the 11C, as well as the first tomb of the monk Saint Philibert, its founder in the 7C. Here you have a nice butterfly garden museum to see live.

The former Hotel Lebreton de Grapillières, a beautiful 18C mansion, now a tourist hotel under the name of Hôtel D’Elbée; Mansions dating back to the 18C.

The Estacade, emblematic building of the island of Noirmoutier. The first wood boom of the Bois de la Chaize was built in 1889. This boat pier played a major role in the development of seaside tourism in the early 20C. The work was completely restored in the years 2013-2014.

The passage of the Gois, submersible roadway, main tourist attraction of the island.  The Bois de la Chaize is known for its woods of holm oaks and mimosas, as well as beautiful shady beaches. A hundred seaside villas ,a majority of which date from the late 19C and early 20C were built in this forest. La promenade des Souzeaux along the ocean with several creeks. The lighthouse or Maison phare de la Pointe des Dames in the Bois de la Chaize; in Le Vieil, one of the village of the island facing the coast has several vacation centers for families. The National Natural Reserve of the marshes of Müllembourg, and the Regional Natural Reserve of Polder de Sébastopol. And of course, the many beaches mentioned above early in the post with the towns descriptions.

noirmoutier

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of the ïle de Noirmoutier: https://www.ile-noirmoutier.com/en

Department Vendée 85 tourist office on Noirmoutier island: http://www.vendee-tourism.co.uk/en/discover/nature-and-countryside/noirmoutier-island/

Local private guide on all about the island of Noirmoutier in French: http://www.ilenoirmoutier.fr/

Region Pays de la Loire on Noirmoutier: https://www.enpaysdelaloire.com/cote-atlantique/5-experiences-originales-a-noirmoutier

There you go plenty of info and photos of a beautiful island ok away from Brittany not bad at all ::) Enjoy it

and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

2 Comments to “A beautiful island, Noirmoustier!”

  1. It sounds like another great place to visit. We’ll look into it.


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    Liked by 1 person

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