The small white houses, the window shutters with their warm colours, a chapel straight out of a postcard, a steep and rugged coast, all have the Celtic airs of Ireland and Brittany.
Hiding among the greenery you might find a mill or a chapel that appears in no tourist guide book. The charm and surprises you'll find on your walk will make you feel you're the first to have discovered these gems!
Let yourself wander and get lost on the island on the cross country pathways - find yourself at the foot of a wild creek, suddenly on a beach, or in the forest - a genuine uncoupling from the pace of daily life.
When you return to the town, you'll have no trouble finding a vivacious spot to meet people and enjoy a drink or a meal. The locals like to gather on the port of the island to share a laugh and a chat as the day closes.
WILD FLOWERS AND ORCHIDS
The island is home to a huge variety of plants, with more than 760 wild species currently catalogued, for example the white asphodel, which blooms out on the moorland in April. There are spectacular flowering displays all year round.
While it's common to come across the carnation of France (protected nationally) or the helianthus, you may also find the rarer wallflower of the dunes, the blue panicaut (a protected species) or wild hyacinth in the same day.
The sixteen species of orchids that grow here, most of which are very rare, bloom between March and September. Serapia and sycamia are also among the flora that flourishes on the island.
The coastal areas, wetlands and groves of the island shelter nearly 290 species of birds. On their way to milder climes, lots of seabirds (great skuas, penguins, shearwaters and gannets among them) stop off on the coast in the autumn.
In winter, waders (snails, plovers, curlews) choose our long sandy beaches to feed. This is the ideal time to observe the discreet purple sandpiper or the rare broad-billed phalarope.
In the spring, warblers return from Africa while the reed harrier begins his mating displays. Lots of species which are very rare in western Europe, or even in the region, can be admired on the island, particularly during the spring and autumn migrations (the Sami sparrow and the little bunting for example).
The diversity of butterflies is remarkable, as are mammal species. The insular field vole even bears the Latin name of the island "Oyensis".
Among the most common marine fauna are conger, garfish and spider crab, as well as the "noble" fish, sea bass, bream and lobster.
Nature tours are offered by guides. Discover our "guided tours" page here
RESPECTING THE CLASSIFIED NATURAL SITES
Since 1977, the Ile d’Yeu has been registered under the law of May 2, 1930 for the protection of natural monuments and picturesque sites. The moorland, the citadel's forest and the wild coastline are sites classified by application of the decree of May 3, 1995.
Since then, the territory of the Ile d’Yeu, the sea around it and the seabed have been protected within the framework of the Natura 2000 project, which combines conservation and economic concerns.
The three island habitats covered by the regulations are the rocky coast, the dunes and moorland and the rocky plateaus. The marine sector is the subject of particular attention, identified by the rarity or fragility of wild, animal and plant species.
The Natura 2000 measures include the recruitment of environmental protectors in the summer. They have a number of different roles:
- initiating dialogue with residents and tourists
- informing all concerned about ecological issues,
- limiting damage,
- encouraging citizenship,
- explaining the jurisdiction,
- monitoring the sites and the wider territory.