Exploring the island on foot or by bike, discover Ushant’s gentler spots as well as the natural drama.
The boats from Brest or Le Conquet dock on Ushant’s east end, overseen by a massive lighthouse. It goes by a none-too-reassuring name to English ears – the Stiff! Le Creac’h, the vast lighthouse marking the other, western end of Ushant, has a fascinating museum on… lighthouses at its base.
Near Le Creac’h, a couple of the cutest old cottages, and notably the Maison du Niou-Uhella, have been turned into a museum illustrating how the locals used to live, in tiny, low homes like ships’ cabins. The men generally headed off far to sea to make a living, so the women looked after the land – in fact, Ushant has been nicknamed ‘The Women’s Island’. Their agricultural duties included looking after the diminutive, rare brown-black Ouessant sheep. The island was once peppered with windmills; just one still stands today.
The Center of Etude of Milieu d’Ouessant
Ornithologists flock to the Centre d’Etude du Milieu d’Ouessant to learn about Ushant’s exceptional bird life. In the late 1960s, the island became a part of the western Breton Parc Naturel Régional d’Armorique, dedicated to protecting its natural riches and its traditions. Then in the late 1990s, the Mer d’Iroise, the portion of sea in which Ouessant and neighbouring Molène lie, was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to protect the precious waters here.
Even if the weather can’t be tamed, modern comforts have reached the island, and modern entertainment, including, funnily enough, the odd rock concert, to complement more traditional Breton celebrations. The main centre of activities is the lovely western village of Lampaul. Visitors enjoy its hotels, cafés and restaurants. They also pay their respects to the church and its cemetery, learning about Ushant’s moving tradition of leaving a small wax cross (known as a proella) to indicate men lost at sea.