ARZ’S CHARACTER AND LOCATION
Arz lies low in the highly protected Golfe du Morbihan between Vannes and Brittany’s southern seas. Arz is l’Ile aux Moines’s delightful, more discreet sibling. It’s flatter, quieter and much less touristy, in part perhaps because it is just that bit further to reach by boat, although it shares the same clement climate. Count around 20 minutes for the six-kilometre boat trip from Vannes to the island.
Arz measures some 3km in length, but offers a full 18km of coastal paths. Its environment remains remarkably well preserved. It’s surrounded by a half-dozen and more smaller islands. The ever-changing views of these add to the excitement of exploring Arz.
Vannes - Golfe du Morbihan
Quai Tabarly - CP 23921
56039 Vannes cedex
Tel. 0825 13 56 10
56840 Ile d’Arz
Tel. 02 97 44 31 14
Go to the website
Compagnie Les Bateaux Bus du Golfe
Tél. 02 40 69 40 40
Crossing takes 20 mins from the Parc du Golfe, Vannes.
List of accommodation available from the town hall.
Information on renting a bike:
You can rent bikes and including trailers for children at the port
Information on public transportation:
Minibus from the port to the village (2.5 km)
The jetty where you arrive on Arz stands quite far from the main village, Le Bourg. As there is little shade in this northerly part of the island, consider hiring a bike straight away to whisk you off swiftly to other parts. Alternatively, you might book a meal or a room at the hotel right by the landing stage. Or, if you’re happy to face the sun full on, head for the Plage de la Falaise, the closest beach to the jetty. It’s typically narrow, like the handful dotted around Arz’s coastline – the others mainly lie on the south side of the island. These beaches are safe for children, although further out, beware of the currents in the Golfe du Morbihan. Note that there are a couple of good sailing schools offering courses for tourists on Arz.
Discover the various headlands around the island, offering excitingly varied viewpoints. A windmill stands out on the north end. Down the western side, a more unusual, highly picturesque tidal mill, the Moulin à Marée de Berno, has recently been restored. It dates back to the 16th century, but now sometimes operates again. There’s also one oyster farmer left on Arz. Several neolithic stones mark the southern end of the island. In times past, the Golfe du Morbihan thrived on maritime trade, and many a ship’s captain chose to reside on Arz, hence a number of fine old houses, for example at Penéro.
In the Middle Ages, ownership of the island was divided between two competing abbeys on the mainland. The south was ruled over from the priory whose remaining parts you can admire in Le Bourg, the sweet main settlement, which straddles the centre of the island. Most of the priory buildings have now been converted to other uses, as parish hall and primary school. The church of Notre-Dame alongside has a spire you can spot from many points around the Golfe du Morbihan. Step inside the building to absorb its peaceful atmosphere. You’ll doubtless want to linger in Le Bourg because it has most of the places to eat on Arz.
BRITISH CONNECTIONS WITH ARZ
Well, British visitors may titter at Arz’s name, which sounds rather silly in English. The name comes from the Breton for ‘bear’s island’, Enez Arh.