We left Roscoff and made the very short trip from Bloscon Marina to Porz Kernoc Bay on the Ile de Batz. With no wind and no currents, we dropped anchor and made plans to enjoy a relaxing day.
Batz is a lovely pocket-sized island, ideal for long walks and cold swims! First things first, we had to get our new tender up and running, Peter inflated her, popped on the 2.5 liter Yamaha motor and the paddles, and it was time for its maiden voyage.
The only vehicles allowed on Batz are cars belonging to resident islanders. Home to a centuries-old agricultural community, the absence of private cars makes for an extremely quiet and peaceful place. However, do keep your eyes and ears open for tractors zipping around corners! Fields of red cabbage, fennel, potatoes and carrots hug sloping hills that give way to the rocky embankments skirting the island’s many beaches.
Batz has a lot of working horses – beautiful “chevaux de trait” that you often see left out to graze, usually with one front and one back leg tethered together, to keep them from wandering too far. There are a few cows here and there, owned by the 500 or so year round residents who form a tight insular community. Gerard Larcher, president of the Senate, has a private summer residence on the island and a fishing boat. In winter, it must get pretty isolated, but in summer, the island fills to the brim with families and groups of all ages, on foot and bicycle.
Peter comes every year to visit his friend, Marie Ange, who has a summer home here. They always go to a very special place to pick up their local produce, including potatoes, the crop that the island is best-known for. So we took a long walk to go see Josianne Menon on her farm just above Pors Melloch.
Josianne’s family has been farming on Batz for generations, and this 73 year old mother of 3 greeted us with a warm and welcoming smile when we showed up in her barn, which doubles as her produce stand. She’s friendly, open, curious, and a purveyor of the island’s best fresh produce!
You’ll also find a small but well-stocked supermarket on the island, a bakery and a few fish mongers.
After stocking up on potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes and herbs, we made our way back through the fields and over to the Bar du Port for a drink, knowing we needed to get back to Opsimath before the tide went out. At low tide, the bays around Batz empty out like a bathtub, even when tides are at their weakest.
While we rested, the tide had come back in, so later we went for a drink at the Débarcadère, the bar and restaurant at Les Herbes Folles , a hotel located at the end of the jetty where passengers take the ferry to and from Roscoff. I’ve never stayed at the hotel, or eaten or had tea there, but it is all tastefully done and looks yummy. I particularly love their selection of adorable old English tea pots. Good cold beer or a glass of wine on the terrace is the extent of my experience there!
If you do visit Batz, don’t miss the Georges Delaselle Gardens, a wonderful exotic garden that is beautifully maintained and well worth the visit. You’ll also find a handful of restaurants, a campground/hostel and a small yacht club, where you can rent catamarans and windsurfing equipment.