Saturday, 17 July 2010

Sein island (Île-de-Sein),

Brittany, France

Now this Ultima Thule in France´s Finistère may not be so remote and northernly as others I have reported here, but it is surely magic in its wilderness, situation and life style. Getting there is not a hard adventure, but living there is.

This piece of rock is certainly the strangest island off the coast of Brittany, one of the six Celtic nations.
Île-de-Sein is a french islet in the Atlantic Ocean, 10 km off the extreme northwest of Finistère, 2 km long for at most a few hundred metres wide. Nowhere does it rise more than six metres above the surrounding ocean.
Lying on the sea routes going south from the English Channel, Sein is well known for the dangers of its waters. The Chaussée de Sein, a vast zone of reefs, stretches for more than thirty miles from east to west, requiring numerous lighthouses, to prevent increasing the large numbers of shipwrecks in the past.

The Island of Sein has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and it was reputed to have been the very last refuge of the druids in Brittany . Some menhirs can be found there.

Three hundred islanders continue to make their living from the sea, gathering rainwater and seaweed and fishing for scallops, lobster and crayfish.

Quai des Paimpolais

The village
In order to be protected from the sea and storms, the village has very narrow streets, a real labyrinth. The streets twist and turn against the wind, and in most places are built only wide enough to roll a barrel. Only bicycles are allowed.

Details of sea life decorate most houses, in the dominating blue colour.

On the blackboard - "croissants available by command for Christmas and New Year's Eve". That shows how isolated the island is from mainland.

Phare de la Vieille
One of the most famous French lighthouses, this tower is built on a rock that half way from mainland to Île-de-Sein. In big sea storms, waves crash against the lighthouse and seem to swallow it - but La Vieille always keeps working.