The Isle of Groix: an island steeped in history
Over four hundred million years ago, when two tectonic plates collided, a piece of land 8 kilometres by 3 was separated from the continent. The history of Groix began and inhabited from its creation the island has always maintained exchanges with the continent, as confirmed by an axe from the neolithic age preserved in the Isle of Groix museum. Then different periods bring different people by sea, whose passage is now anchored in the four corners of the island. Still today we can retrace the footsteps of the Vikings, their occupation is marked by numerous remains (tombs, weapons, boat sepulchres). We can also observe the traces left by the Second World War near the Pen Men cliffs. Groix was also the leading French tuna port in the 20th century. The island has gained an important position in maritime commerce and its inhabitants, the Groisillons, are proud of their main activity and have even replaced the church cockerel with a tuna! It is still proudly crowning the pinnacle of the town church. If Groix has known less calm and peaceful times, today, through its beauty and its heritage, it is one of the pearls of Brittany.
The legend of the « Pointe des chats » (cat point)
Walking along the pointe des chats coast to pasture her cattle, a young girl was daydreaming whilst observing the calm sea one August, the ocean was so calm that the water swishing onto the rocks couldn’t even be heard. Whilst she contemplated this landscape, her attention was caught by gentle whispering on the surface of the water. Surprised and intrigued by this strange phenomenon, she hid herself in the heathland. Across the broom she carried on watching this quivering when suddenly she saw something emerge, first a head, then a bust. She carried on watching this body approaching a rock and hoisting itself out of the water, to sit down, but that day, it wasn’t legs that the Groisillonne saw coming out of the water, but a mermaid’s tail. Not believing her eyes, she slowly moved closer to see a bit more. The mermaid, sitting on the rocks, combing her long hair with a brush carved from a shell, her bluish scales shone in the sun. Having approached as close as possible, the Groisillonne could even hear the lapping the mermaid made with the end of her tail fin on the surface of the water. When suddenly, a cow mooed, the mermaid was instantly frightened and slid into the water immediately without turning round. The young Groisillonne quickly went to the rock, but it was too late, the mysterious creature had already left the land to go back to the depths of the ocean.
Isle of Groix: our favourites / best picks
A beach like few others
Recognisable by its fine white sand, the « Grands Sables » is the biggest beach on Groix and it is also one of the rare convex beaches in Europe. This corner of paradise with its turquoise water will seduce you whether you are with your family or with friends. Easy to access, the beach is just over 30 minutes from Port Turdy on foot and 10 minutes away on a bicycle.
On the waterfront at the Café de la jetée
Opened over a hundred years ago, this café restaurant used to serve as a hangar for the Port Turdy lifeboat. As a producer, the Café de la jetée offers locally sourced produce on its menus. Right on the waterfront on the port of Groix, you can enjoy the sun on the terrace or inside in a warm and atypical decor. You can taste the flavours of the Isle of Groix and for 1 meal ordered, 1 coffee will be offered free on presentation of the Escal’Ouest ticket. Concerts are organised here every week from April to September and you can even call on them for your catering needs.
As this is a very popular place, we advise you to book.
A lighthouse unlike all others
With a reach of 54 kilometres, the Pen Men lighthouse is the most powerful in the Morbihan. Its construction began in 1836 and it was lit for the first time in 1839. Even though it is now automatic, a guardian still lives there. It is now recognised as a historical monument. It can be visited in July and August and during the heritage days (journées de la patrimoine) on reservation with the association Les Abeilles Noires.
Spice up your hikes with Coconut’s Location
Located just opposite the boat terminal, Coconut’s Location is highly experienced and is known as the reference in bicycles on the Island.
You’ll find top quality French made bicycles here. From aluminium (21 gear) hybrids to tandems via a wide range of mountain bikes… Children will also find what they like with bikes of all sizes, and with adapted accessories like the child seat, the bike trailer or the trailer carriage for children.
On presentation of your Escal’Ouest ticket you can benefit from:
-20% reduction on the hire of bikes
-10% reduction on the hire of vehicles
The flavours of the Isle of Groix with Groix & Nature
After having had an unforgettable time on this paradisiac island you’ll want to bring a little bit of it back with you and there’s nothing better for that than putting the culinary pleasures of Groix in your bag to be enjoyed at home. Discover Groix et Nature’s traditionally prepared and cooked preserves and natural fish dishes. All the recipes are cooked on the Island without any artificial colourants or preservatives using raw materials from small fishing boats. The shops are located in Port Turdy (opposite the boat terminal) and in the Comptoir Groix et Nature (Delicatessen – Bistro – Cantine) on Lorient La Base, you can also make the most of a 10% reduction in the shops on presentation of the Escal’Ouest ticket. To learn more about how these delicious produce are prepared, you can visit the manufacturing facility from Monday to Friday in Port-Lay.
A village anchored into the island
To make the most of a place fully and be able to discover all its beauty there’s nothing better than going out to explore it and to merge into the landscape. Nestled between the « Grand Sables » beach and « La Pointe des Chats » that’s what the VVF village offers you for your holidays on the Isle of Groix. With your feet nearly in the water, only 50 metres from the beach, you can relax in front of the ocean, immerse yourself in the daily life of the tuna boats at the « Maison de Kerland » or set out to do a Tour of the Island on a bike! It’s in a duplex gite with terrace overhanging the sea that you can make the most of your stay and of the change of scenery that this exceptional site offers. Just below, a few steps from your gîte, you can access the « Sables Rouges » beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island which takes its name from garnet, a mineral present in the rocks of the island. Particles of rock crumble with the waves and in strong winds, they are blown onto the sand of the beach giving it this red colour.
Sea tour of the Isle of Groix
And what if you stood back a bit? After having experienced Groix on land, we offer you another perspective by discovering it from the sea. Seen from the water, the Isle of Groix reveals all its beauty. Contemplate the land as you never have before, letting yourself be gently soothed by the sea air and the commentary of Catherine, a National Reserve of Groix guide, who will enlighten you about the rich natural and historical heritage of Garnet Island (l’île aux Grenats). The Escal’Ouest Crossings and Cruises company suggests you come board for a commented tour of the island for over an hour you can navigate around this Breton rock off the coast of Lorient. From the boat you’ll have the opportunity to observe the convex Grands Sables beach sticking out into the sea, the Pen-Men lighthouse and the very special rock of the Pointe des Chats that many come to admire and above all, remember to look closely as you might be able to glimpse the mermaid of the Groisillon legend.
Day cruise with stopover
Spend a day in an idyllic setting! On the schedule: cruise down the Blavet from Hennebont, after crossing the bay of Lorient, we head towards Groix to discover the witch’s island. The Escal’Ouest Crossings and Cruises company suggests you come on board for a day cruise with stopover on the Isle of Groix. After casting anchor at 11h30 you get off the boat, walk along the port and can start your adventure on foot or by stopping off at Cocount’s location to hire a bike, a scooter or even a car. As you build up an appetite, you can find what you need at the Café du Port with products grown on the island on the menu. After a good meal in the sun on the terrace, you’ll climb up the main road Général de Gaulle to get to the town of Port-Turdy where you’ll have time to root out wonders in the island’s typical shops! Now for the wild part of the island. You’ll plunge into nature and the multitude of coastal paths surrounded by the Groisillon heathland each one more stunning than the last. After the physical effort, you can relax and lie down on the hot sand of one of the island’s beaches making the most of the turquoise water. Then you’ll get back on your way towards the port where you can stop at Groix et Nautre to bring back some of the island’s delicious delicacies before boarding again for the continent at 17h30 with your head full of memories.