My Travel Book - Brittany - 'Les Ebihens'

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There is a place very close to the harbor where our boat is moored, a place we love to go to whenever we do not have enough time to sail further away.

The Ebihens Islands - very small compared to Chausey and sort of tied to the land (a peninsula called Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer) at low tide. Easy to walk to if you are careful enough to watch out when the tide comes in because it comes in quite forcefully. Easy to sail to. Even for Olive Oyl...

Those islands have been inhabited from very ancient times. Nowadays, they belong to six families, all of them Captain Michel’s descendants.

Who was Captain Michel?

It is a long story for such a small place. In the 5th century, the Catholic Church built an abbey on the peninsula, Saint-Jacut. The estate included the islands which became known as “Enez Bihen” (the ‘small island’ in Briton) hence their French name - Les Ebihens.

Vauban had a tower built on the main island in 1694 in order to protect it   (and Saint-Malo which is very close) against the British Navy. At the time, the islands belonged to the Royal Coastguard of Saint-Malo, Count Louis de Pontbriand. Interestingly enough, to finance the construction, he put a tax on mackerel fished during religious holidays.

During the Revolution, the abbey was ransacked and the monks’ estate was sold to one of Surcouf’s captains, Captain Michel.

Like I said before, his descendants still own the islands and they spend their summer holidays there. They very gracefully let people roam free on their land but they are very protective of the environment. 
One of the islets, once inhabited, is a bird sanctuary.
We love to go there. There is a good wakeboard spot behind some rocks and from time to time, we anchor the boat close to the main beach and whoever feels like it goes in for a dip.

We love to go there but the access is not this easy though and I have seen a very nervous Popeye steer the boat in-between huge rocks, watching for the small ones that are scattered all over and quite hidden at high tide. What would he do without a radar screen?

I imagine we’d never go there! And it’d be a shame. Of course you never miss what you’ve never seen or gone to.

Brittany’s weather is really fickle. You sail out of the harbor with such a blue sky that you feel you are going to have the dandiest day at sea... and a few minutes later, when you get closer to Les Ebihens, you decide against getting too close... "Mist and shoals can prove to be very treacherous," says Popeye who is a well-informed sailor.

Olive never contradicts him when on the boat.

Last Monday, Popeye and Olive Oyl left the harbor below grey stormy skies. But the sea was so calm that it really was fun to go to ‘Les Ebihens’. They truly were alone in the world. Imagine. One Monday afternoon in October. Threatening to rain. Quite warm but not summery either.

What a surprise. The sea was totally deserted but not dreary at all.

Actually Olive was so delighted when the sea turned to very still and glassy waters.

 Popeye looked up from his radar screen and finally discovered ‘Les Ebihens’.

*Good Luck, and Good Night*

1 comment:

Myrna said...

Very cool. Another place I want to go...