Get away from the crowds this sum­mer on a haven off the French coast

France - - Les Nouvelles -

ÎLE D’AIX, Char­ente-mar­itime

Mea­sur­ing just three kilo­me­tres long and 600 me­tres at its widest point, this cres­cent-shaped, vir­tu­ally traf­fic-free is­land off the coast near Rochefort is an en­chant­ing mix of sandy creeks, pine and cy­press trees, marsh­land and for­est. The Île d’aix has just one small vil­lage, where vis­i­tors can hire a bike to ex­plore at their own pace. Al­ter­na­tively, visit the Musée Na­tional Napoléon, set in the house where the Em­peror sur­ren­dered to the English in 1815 be­fore be­ing ex­iled. A 20-minute ferry ser­vice op­er­ates from the town of Fouras. en-char­ente-mar­

ÎLE SAINTHONORAT, Alpes-mar­itimes

The smaller of the two in­hab­ited Lérins Is­lands lies a 15-minute ferry ride from Cannes and is named af­ter Saint Hono­ra­tus, who es­tab­lished an abbey here in AD 410. A tran­quil at­mos­phere is guar­an­teed as the res­i­dent monks main­tain a gen­eral rule of quiet and vis­i­tor num­bers are strictly limited dur­ing the sum­mer. Head for the is­land’s sandy beaches, and bask in the sun­shine while look­ing over the turquoise Mediter­ranean wa­ters. cannes-iles­

ÎLE D’OUESSANT, Fin­istère

Ouessant (Ushant in English) lies at the most west­erly point of France, some 20 kilo­me­tres off the Brit­tany coast, and is known for its six light­houses. This wild and rocky ex­panse of about 15km² is home to the small but hardy Ouessant sheep, a her­itage breed. Vis­i­tors can appreciate the is­land’s rugged beauty by pony trekking, hik­ing and cy­cling. Fer­ries op­er­ate from Brest (2hr) and Le Con­quet (1hr 15min), or you can fly from Brest-bre­tagne air­port (15min).

ABOVE: One of the light­houses on Île d’ouessant; IN­SET: The abbey on Île Saint-hon­o­rat; BE­LOW LEFT: The Musée Napoléon on Île d’aix

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