Twelve Outstanding Experiences Not to Miss on the Île de Noirmoutier
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Château de Noirmoutier
Dominating the skyline of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île is the 20-metre-high keep of this magnificent 12th-century castle. It was a military prison during the French Revolution, but today serves as the island’s museum, and offers great views over the town.
L’Atelier de la Sardine
Opened in 2018, La Perle des Dieux’s Atelier de la Sardine museum takes you back in time to meet the men and women who have made the humble sardine a local symbol of excellence, with memorabilia from the 17th century right up to the present day.
There is no better way to get an appreciation for the working life of this rather special vineyard than in a carriage pulled by a rare local breed of horse. Bolero, Petra Wise’s beloved steed, will take you on a relaxing ride through the vines.
Stretching 400m out into the Atlantic, this magnificent wooden pier has become a favourite for fishermen keen to keep their feet firmly on the ground, and they are always happy to talk about their catches.
Les Balades de Chloé
Aquatic marching, paddleboarding and paddlefitness all feature on the timetable at this one woman fitness school. Immensely popular, and catering for all levels of experience, you can expect to come away with a stronger core and better balance. Facebook @lesbaladesdechloe
Oyster farms are scattered around the island and are easily visible at low tide. There are also a number of oyster tasting huts. If the urge takes you out of hours, La Godaille Huîtres at Port du Bonhomme operates a 24/7 oyster vending machine. www.lagodaille.com
Set amid 50 hectares of coastal dune fields and forests of pine and oak, with the sound of the waves crashing down on the shoreline beside you, this 5,912m long, par 72 golf course is hard to beat. www.golfsaintjeandemonts.fr
Recently renovated under the eye of heritage architect Stéphane Barbotin-Larrieu, and reopened as a museum in the spring of 2019, this 18th-century hotel tells the story of the Empire and the influence of the sea on the island of Noirmoutier.
La Maison des Pêcheurs
Learn how sailors used to live, in this museum set in a painstakingly restored traditional fisherman’s cottage featuring a wealth of local artefacts and tales. Be sure to find out just what was found in that 150-litre barrel washed up on the shore in 1912.
La Base Nautique
Surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, kitesurfing… It all happens here at this state of the art watersports school on the beach at Saint-Jean-de-Monts. Go along even if you don’t want to take part, as the various activities make for fantastic spectator sport.