Next time you think about France & holiday, forget about the Mediterranean. Have a look at one of the many islands in the Atlantic Ocean instead: Île d’Yeu, Île d’Oléron or Île de Ré for example. And believe it or not, I have yet another island you could (should) add to your ‘Atlantic List’: Île de Noirmoutier.
Just like last year, my friends Fred & François took me on a surprise weekend break when I went to see them, and that’s how this time we ended up in Noirmoutier.
There are two main ways to access the island: via a long bridge – or – via the bottom of the ocean. Really?! Yes. The latter obviously is only possible when it is low tide, but it’s a pretty cool experience to be driving through this moonlike landscape. So if you can, try to take the ‘Ocean route’ at least for one leg of your trip. You can check the times of the different tides online before you go.
Now, about the island. Think cute villages, pittoresk harbour views and good natured French folks. Add a smell of burned wood coming from the chimneys, good food & wine, and you’ve got a decent picture of what Noirmoutier is all about.
As for us, we stayed in an adorable little cottage in the village of Noirmoutier-en-île during the weekend. It had two double bedrooms, a small kitchen and even an outdoor area which we were lucky enough to use for lunch, as the October weather was treating us to an absolutely splendid day of sunshine!
Food wise, there is an impressive selection of good restaurants in Noirmoutier, enough to go somewhere different for at least a week, I would say. We ended up going to ‘Le p’tit Noirmout‘ as it came highly recommended and we were not disappointed; the food was fresh, super tasty and French, and the service was friendly.
Something you should definitely try to do when you’re on the island, is go for a bicycle ride. As in London and many other places, it is the best way to get around and discover the hidden gems of Noirmoutier. We went for a nice ride along the coast up to Le Viel – an area that’s meant to be the oldest part of the island.
If you’re not the bicycle kind of type, not to worry. You can just as easily go for a long (or short) walk along the beach, through the villages, or in the forest. In fact, we got up early both mornings to go for a morning walk ourselves – and to watch the sunrise while we enjoyed a freshly baked croissant (of course).
The things I liked most about Noirmoutier were the fact that it’s not super touristy, the food (what else?) and the people. I found most of the island folks I met particularly happy and cheerful, there must be something about life on a little island in the Atlantic!
Seriously though, if you want something different for your next holiday or weekend break, have a look at some of France’s Atlantic beauties. They have a relaxed vibe, are great for outdoor activities such as cycling or walking, and of course there is French food… So really, what’s not to like?