Gone fishing for crabs on the Ile de Houat – in Brittany, France

The Gulf of Morbihan in Brittany, where I’ve been for a couple of days is a wonderful holiday destination, with many small islands off the coast that you can visit by ferry.

Sailing boats in the early morning in the Gulf of Morbihan

Sailing boats in the early morning in the Gulf of Morbihan

Yesterday, we arrived a little bleary eyed for the 8am ferry from Vannes to the island of Houat, for a day of fishing for crabs, crevettes and whatever other marine goodies we could find. It was grey and a little fresh to begin with and after taking in the scenery from the deck as we left the port, we quickly retreated to the warmer cabin below to pass a couple of hours until we arrived at the island. The time flew by as we passed other islands in the Gulf of Morhiban, a nearly enclosed area of sea, with a mild and protected climate which is ideal for sailing.

At 10 o clock we reached the small harbour at Houat and set off on foot in search of a good beach (of which there are many on the island) for both crab fishing and relaxing. The small village we walked through with a few cafes and restaurants was full of picture postcard fishermen’s cotages, which had been converted into holiday homes, for those who want to relax and get away from it all.

The men in our party had come well equipped with nets for fishing for crabs and crevettes (large prawns) and miniature picks to prize the shellfish off the rocks – they took their fishing very seriously indeed. The island is small enough to walk around in a few hours and you can walk to all the beaches on the footpaths that criss-cross from one side of the island to the other.

First we reached a huge expanse of white sand and walked to the end, where there was a rocky area by the sea wall. Here was clearly an excellent spot for fishing from the beach, as it was low tide and many other people were raking away the wet sand to find bags of shellfish to take away. There were plenty of mussels and oysters on the rocks and so we got to work with the picks, prizing a few off, although the oysters were opened, tasted and pronounced too oily to be good to eat, so we didn’t take any more.

Next we walked around the headland to another beach where we established ourself for a while to have a swim and sunbathe while the men went off to explore the more rocky areas. After some lunch of baguettes with fromage and jambon and a little red wine and strong black coffee from the thermos, we continued on our exploration over to the other side of the island. As we made it back past to the harbour, we turned in a different direction, this time following a path through ferns at the top of the cliffs with more rocky coves below. After passing some which were too steep to scramble down to we arrived at another small sandy cove that we had practically to ourselves.

A swim and another doze on the beach later, it was time to walk back and take our ferry back to Vannes. As we got close, we passed by my friend’s house close to the harbour and waved to her son on the terrace as we passed by. Although my friends live there year round, the location makes it like being on holiday all the time.

There are many different islands to visit in the Gulf of Morbihan, some tiny, some large, but all very unspoiled and beautiful, where the best way to get around is by bike or on foot. In summer you should be sure to check the ferry times carefully and reserve your return trip as there are not so many boats each day and they can get full in holiday season and at weekends. There are often small hotels or campsites where you could stay for a perfect relaxing break of a day or two.

And I almost forgot – the crabs we caught?  Well sad to say that we only found a couple of tiny ones, but luckily we were able to buy some larger red crabs and locally caught fish at the harbour before we left.  As we came off the ferry, carrying our fishing nets and crabs, a passer by murmured “Quelle belle peche!” (what a great catch!) and we all fell about laughing. You’ll be seeing the video how we prepared the crabs for our dinner very soon.

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  • Reply
    Corinne @ Have Baby Will Travel
    August 24, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Beautiful, beautiful pictures. I’ve always wanted to visit more of France!

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    Sherry Ott
    December 15, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I’ve often wondered how hard it would be to pry those oysters off the rocks…and what they would taste like! I”ll stick to the restaurant ones and let someone else do the hard work!

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    August 17, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I have never cached crabs in my life. Your crabs look small, but I guess you had a lot of fun catching them!
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