In his latest cruising feature, Peter Cumberlidge picks out the best remote island destinations you can easily reach from the UK by boat
Yeu, The Vendée
Size: 5nm long
Watering holes: Make for La Crêperie Bleue on the town quay
This sunny island lies ten miles off the French Vendée coast, south of the great Loire estuary.
Yeu is an exquisite miniature bathed in southern warmth and painter’s light.
The main harbour, Port Joinville, is easy to approach and has a sheltered marina. Like all island harbours Joinville is rarely still, with fishing boats, ferries and yachts jostling for position.
Yet the summer sun keeps life relaxed and at noon everything falls quiet except for the clatter of cutlery and chinking glasses from cottage windows and café terraces. After lunch an afternoon torpor settles in – Yeu is far enough south for a siesta.
You can hire bikes or a car at the harbour. The island is criss-crossed by country lanes and sandy paths, and from the highest parts the sea is visible on all sides.
Skylarks rise and flamboyant hollyhocks grow wild in the hedgerows. Most island houses are whitewashed, with red pantile roofs and blue shutters.
A commanding lighthouse stands at the west end of Yeu near an airstrip. Over on the Atlantic coast, Port de la Meule is a picturesque inlet in the low weathered cliffs, almost hidden from seaward.
The east shore of Yeu feels much softer, with sandy beaches, grassy dunes and blissful turquoise shallows.
Don’t miss: Climbing the main lighthouse (July-Aug) for stunning views