Luxury holidays in L’Île d'Yeu

Small (at just 10 kilometres long), yet very significant, L’Île d'Yeu is a brightly shining beacon of untamed beauty, luring adventurers, beachgoers and serenity seekers alike off France’s Atlantic coast. Its rocky edges have the blustered, heather- and gorse-strewn feel of Celtic isles, but Riviera-worthy beaches lapped by turquoise waters are tucked away between the bulwarking gneiss promontories. While inland, moors, marshes and fields busy with wildflowers add a touch of English pastoral romanticism to the landscape, and the port towns, with their whitewashed houses, sweep you over to the Ioanian. All of this makes the perfect wide-open playspace for hiking, biking, horse riding, helicopter rides, sand-yachting and all manner of watersports, but there are also historic forts and castles (one of which starred in a Tintin book), upscale ateliers and dialled-down yoga and pilates sessions on the sand. A petite package with many treasures inside.

When to go

French holiday-makers swell the isle’s population from June to September. Swoop in at the tail-end of the season to avoid the crowds but still nail the weather, but don’t overshoot as some places may close for winter.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Fly into Nantes, which is the closest hub; from there you can drive (or catch a bus to Port Fromentine, just under two hours away), then ride the 30-minute ferry to Yeu. Alternatively, land at La Rochelle, a three-and-a-half-hour drive away, which serves a handful of cities in the UK, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Belgium and Portugal. If you fly into Paris, the journey from Orly is around seven hours, slightly longer from Charles de Gaulle.
  • Trains

    You could travel over on the Eurostar and then ride the TGV to Nantes in two-and-a-half hours, but you’ll still need to reach the port and cross on the ferry, so it’s not the most straightforward route.
  • Automobiles

    Here, two wheels are better than four. There are few roads on the island and not all have the capacity for cars, so locals and tourists alike largely get about by bike. If you do take the pricier crossing over with your car, there are some parking spots on the island, but you may prefer to hire an electric vehicle at Port Joinville (if you hire one at all).