19 April 2013

An Aix-ellent couple of days

Apparently I had a mini holiday yesterday; I went on a ferry, the factor 30 was out, I have sunburnt shoulders despite aforementioned presence of suncream, and there are now about 100 photos of the sea on my camera. Allow me to tell you about my daytrip to Île d'Aix on the hottest day of the year.

I mentioned in my previous post that my Auntie Sara and Maurice were visiting for a couple of days. Allow me to get you acquainted with them:

Maurice and Sara

Tuesday was spent introducing them to la vie melloise. I took them on the arboretum walk, and through the streets of Melle, and even though I've done this same walk countless times, I have never bored of it. It is particularly enjoyable this time of year when literally everyday a new flower or tree has burst into bloom, making each walk different. And since Sara is very knowledgable in all things botanical, I finally know what some of the plants are called. I reckon I have very nearly captured everything in Melle from every possible angle, but until that moment, here are some of my favourites from Tuesday for your perusal:

One of my favourite views in Melle
2 thirds of La Triade Romane
Finally the trees have blossom!
The old Melle Station, in use between 1885 and 1938
Tulips in front of the Hotel de Ville
Qu'est-ce que tu regardes, hein?

But back to our day by the sea! Having originally intended to go to Confolens and Angouleme yesterday, we changed plan when Dominique questioned why we'd chosen those places, and instead suggested we visit Île d'Aix, which I'd never heard of before. And what a fantastic recommendation! Merci bien, Domie!

At just 2km in length, Île d'Aix is the second smallest island in the Charentaise archipelago off the Atlantic coast. The island played a major part in protecting Rochefort in the 17th century, and as a result is heavily fortified, with fortifications surrounding the town in the south of the island, and 2 main forts, one in the north, one in the south.

Fort Liedot in the north of the island, which served as a prison until the 1960s, and is now used for entertainment and shows during the summer

Napolean adds to the island's history after having stayed there for 1 night following his defeat at the battle of Waterloo, before being recaptured and exiled to the island of Saint Helena. 

Where Napolean stayed, although don't quote me on that... ;)

In contrast to its battle-related history, Île d'Aix today is a peaceful haven of nature and stunning sea views. One such view is that of the famous Fort Boyard, once a military prison but more recently made known by the 1990s gameshow that took place on it.

Fort Boyard: 19th century fortification and later prison, and recent gameshow setting

A car-free zone, the only way to get onto the island is by boat, so we set off on the ferry in late morning, sailing past another fort, Fort Enet, en route. Without a cloud in the sky, it was clear we'd chosen the perfect day to go and see the island. The light sea breeze also meant that the temperature was bearable enough for walking for hours in blazing sunshine.

One of our favourite aspects of the island was its white-washed houses with terracotta roofs and coloured shutters. I'm fairly sure I ended up photographing almost every house on the island.

Shutters, bikes and flowers

Surprisingly, Île d'Aix isn't featured in many guidebooks, but I would thoroughly recommend it for a daytrip; there's plenty of beach for sunbathing and swimming, you can walk through and around the island for hours taking in the views, there's the historical element there too, and the fact that you have to get a ferry there makes it all the more exciting. The only downside was that the last ferry back to the mainland is at 6.30pm, meaning that you can't see the sunset from the island, which I imagine would have been gorgeous. 

It really was a brilliant couple of days, and I'm now looking forward to the arrival of my last lot of visitors, the parents, in 2 weeks time. Until then, onward and upward with the YARP! 

I will leave you with a selection of my favourite photos from Île d'Aix:

View towards Île d'Aix from Pointe de la Fumée on the mainland
Sparkly sea
Hotel de Ville, Île d'Aix style
It's as if they'd planned on dressing like the rainbow...
I don't imagine the island would be quite so lovely in winter
The tide goes out so far that the ferry times are really limited and change daily with the tides
You can see the La Rochelle to Île de Ré bridge in the background
Don't think this photo needs a caption, it pretty much speaks for itself
My attempt at being arty
Due to the absence of cars, the island is full of bikes
I think some of them could do with having their fringes trimmed
Auntie and niece, beautifully coordinated with the grass and lighthouses
The closest I got to a sunset


  1. Loved the island and love your photos, especially like the black and white of the old railway station.
    Remember, photos are a numbers game and yours are looking great!
    Au revoir. X

    1. Thanks! My favourite's the line of colourful people on the beach I think! xx

  2. bonjour!

    Came across your blog while browsing through the internet. Hope you're enjoying France! Loving the photos! xx

    1. Hi, thank you so much for your comment, and very happy you stumbled upon my blog! France is fantastic, although I've just got back to England as I've finished the teaching; however I head back out there next week for my next adventure!