L'Île-d'Yeu

 

L'Île-d'Yeu is an island and commune (L'Île-d’Yeu) located in the department of Vendée, in the Pays de la Loire region in western France.

Completely insularized around 5,000 BC, the island of L'Île-d'Yeu is located 17 km off the Vendée coast. the island concentrates on its 23 km2 of land surface a great diversity of landscapes: long beaches and coastal dunes fixed by softwoods; wild coast with lofty cliffs enclosing blond sand coves; shaved grass moors where armories shudder; hollow paths crisscrossing the ridges and along the cliffs; grove with multiple plots where they nest sheltered from the foliage of willows and plum trees, low houses with tiled roofs and colored shutters.
For a long time, the first tuna port on the Atlantic coast, L'Île-d'Yeu Island still has an active place for fishing, landing on its docks: bars, batches, soles, turbots, sea bream, hake and other mullet mules that are surrounded by countless crustaceans.
An island of less than 5,000 inhabitants, a quarter of whom are less than 25 years old, L'Île-d'Yeu is a living, friendly land, deeply marked by this call from the open sea that enchants all those who love the sea, who once chose drop anchor in it for just a moment.
L'Île-d'Yeu Island is part of the Ponant Islands Association.

Tourist information
Tourist Office 1 rue du Marché, Port-Joinville, +33 2 51 583258, fax: +33 2 51 584048, email: tourisme@ile-yeu.fr  Mon.- Sat. : 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sun. : 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

 

The island of Yeu appeared around 360 million years ago, towards the end of the primary era, as a result of geological events. From the end of Secondary (65 million years) to the Quaternary (1.9 million years), it undergoes several processes of insularization alternated by an attachment to the continent due to the variation in the level of the oceans.

The island is thus first attached to the mainland by a tongue of land until about 7,000 years ago, there remains the trace under the name of Pont d'Yeu, which today designates a high rocky bottom. connecting the island to the mainland. Sometimes an island, sometimes a peninsula depending on the level of the oceans, Yeu definitely became an island during the early Neolithic or even a little before. In the Middle Neolithic, the sea level was lower by only 5 m, the coastline was larger in the north of the island where the coast was lower, than in the south where the coast was mainly formed by cliffs.

Today, about 10 km long and an average width of 4 km, its area is around 23 km2.

 

Destinations

The main attraction of the island is none other than its particularly rich natural environment between rocky coast, dune coast and marshes.

We can also discover a wide variety of sites and monuments:
Numerous megaliths (dolmens, menhirs, cup-shaped stones), The Church of St Sauveur (11th / 12th century), The Old Castle (14th century), The Citadel (19th century), The Grand Phare.

The beaches are not supervised. The main beaches are Ker-Chalon, les Vieilles, Anse des Soux.

 

Geological history
The island of L'Île-d'Yeu appeared around 360 million years ago, towards the end of the primary era, as a result of geological events. From the end of Secondary (65 million years) to the Quaternary (1.9 million years), it undergoes several insularization processes alternated by an attachment to the continent due to the variation in the level of the oceans.

The island is thus first attached to the mainland by a strip of land until about 7,000 years ago, there remains the trace under the name of Pont d'Yeu, which today designates a high rocky bottom. connecting the island to the mainland. Sometimes an island, sometimes a peninsula depending on the level of the oceans, Yeu definitely becomes an island during the ancient Neolithic or even a little before. In the Middle Neolithic, the sea level was lower by only 5 m, the coastline was larger in the north of the island where the coast was lower, than in the south where the coast was mainly formed by cliffs.

Today L'Île-d'Yeu is about 10 km long and an average width of 4 km, its area is around 23 km2.

 

History

Scattered across the island are dolmens and menhirs, which indicate settlement as early as the Stone Age. The Dolmen de la Planche à Puare is located on the Anse des Broches, on the north coast of the Île d’Yeu. The simple dolmen (French dolmen simple) Dolmen des Petits Fradets (also called Maison de la Gournaise) is located near La Gournaise on the "Route des Petits Frades" and near the Allée couverte des Tabernaudes on the north coast.

In Latin the Île d’Yeu was called Insula Oya. In the Middle Ages, monks farmed the island. During the Hundred Years War, the island fell to the English crown.

A lot of grain was grown on the island and there were many windmills, but today only relics or renovated mills bear witness to it, and you can see wild grain growing almost everywhere.

Citadel
There is also a citadel on the island, which was built in 1858–1866. During the First World War it served as a transshipment point for coastal batteries and their ammunition. In 1916 there were Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war there. In 1940, 125 French communists were interned in it. From 1940 to 1944 the citadel was occupied by German soldiers. A forest was planted around the citadel to camouflage it.

In the courtyard of the citadel there used to be a seven meter high menhir, which was replaced by two large windmills in the 18th century. These in turn fell victim to the citadel. Today the courtyard is used for public events (circus, concerts).

From World War II to today
During the Second World War, the island L'Île-d'Yeu was occupied by the German Wehrmacht. They built bunkers and observation posts. In November 1944 she withdrew and destroyed the large lighthouse on the island. However, they left the bunkers with many utensils to the islanders. After the Second World War, the Île d’Yeu was the place of exile for Marshal Philippe Pétain, who was sentenced to death in 1945 by a French court martial for his collaboration with the German Reich. Charles de Gaulle converted the sentence to life imprisonment and exile on the Île d’Yeu. Pétain died on July 23, 1951 at the age of 95. His grave is in the cemetery above Port-Joinville. You can find it to the right of the entrance near the Perdu en mer tablet; enveloped by shrubs about three meters high, it is not easily visible.

In December 1999 the island L'Île-d'Yeu suffered from the oil spill caused by the wreck of the Maltese tanker Erika.

Coat of arms
The yellow shield is divided across by a blue ribbon of lines. A crown rests on the head of the shield. It is framed by two fish, laid on a golden ribbon with the motto: In Altum Lumen et Perfugium (Latin for “light and calm on the sea”, French for Au large, la lumière et le repos).

 

Getting here

Crossing from Port Fromentine (all year)
Reach Fromentine by train:
The nearest SNCF train station is Nantes
Bus connection between Nantes and Fromentine.
Reach Fromentine by car:
Motorway to Nantes (A11) or la Roche sur Yon (A87)
Then follow the direction of Noirmoutier.

Crossing from St Gilles Croix de Vie (April to September)
Reach St Gilles Croix de Vie by train:
SNCF station at St Gilles Croix de Vie.
Reach St Gilles Croix de Vie by car:
Motorway to La Roche sur Yon (A 87)
Then follow the direction of St Gilles Croix de Vie.

Helicopter connection
Departure from Barre de Monts (all year round)