Armchair Traveler: Belle-Ile (France)

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. windswept / ˈwɪndˌswɛpt / (adj.) – open or exposed to strong winds

    The windswept beach is perfect for a cold swim.

  2. surf / sɜrf / (n.) – the white foam or bubbles that form when huge waves hit rocks or the shore

    Watching the surf roll onto the beach makes me feel calm.

  3. recurring / rɪˈkɜr ɪŋ / (adj.) – happening or appearing repeatedly

    My mother was worried because of my little brother’s recurring fever.

  4. hospitable / hɒˈspɪt ə bəl / (adj.) – friendly and welcoming to visitors

    The locals are very hospitable; it feels like everyone is my friend there.

  5. to a fault / tʊ ə fɔlt / (idiom) – more than what’s usual or necessary; excessive

    Daniel is honest to a fault; he tells the truth even if it gets him in trouble.


Read the text below.

Belle-Ile is the only island in France’s Brittany region and the perfect place to go to get away from the crowds.

There are no less than 60 beaches in Belle-Ile, even though the island is a mere 17 kilometers across. The coastline is tailor-made for hikers and nature lovers; windswept surf and rocks poking out of the sea are a recurring theme.

If those rocks look like something out of a Monet painting, it’s probably because they are — the painter fell in love with Belle-Ile in 1886 and did several paintings here. Those paintings will help you understand how the island got its full name, Belle-Ile-en-Mer — the beautiful island in the sea.

Head to the Pointe de Poulains to see a solar-powered lighthouse surrounded by rocks and foamy surf. At this northernmost tip of the island, you can gaze out at the stormy North Atlantic.

Other outdoor activities include horse-riding and various water sports like surfing, diving and paddleboarding.

There’s more to the island than nature hiking and the sea: Bretons love to get out and celebrate life. They are hospitable to a fault and don’t miss the chance for a festival. In Belle-Ile, they do it through Lyrique en Mer, an annual opera festival that often invites renowned singers from around the world. This year’s program is scaled back due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, but you can expect beautiful performances.

Finally, this wouldn’t be France without at least a handful of scrumptious restaurants. Expect an emphasis on fresh seafood in relaxed surroundings. (T)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • According to the author, Belle-Ile is the perfect place to go to get away from the crowds. When you travel, do you prefer to visit crowded locations or places with very few people? Why? Discuss.
  • In addition to various outdoor activities and beautiful beaches, the island also has an annual opera festival and great seafood restaurants. If you visited Belle-Ile, how would you spend your time there? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Monet fell in love with Belle-Ile in 1886 and did several paintings there. Are you interested in visiting places that were the inspiration for famous creations (ex. works of art, anime)? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Belle-Ile is the only island in France’s Brittany region. Does your country have any famous islands? If so, what are they famous for? Discuss.