Updated on 1 December 2020
Reading time: 4 minutes
We’d heard about the Chausey Islands many times before our trip to Normandy, a little archipelago of islands, islets and rocks off the coast of Granville, in the English Channel. With three friends, we decided to cross these natural wonders off our bucket list and we joined a local character, Ian Wood, for a sea kayak adventure to the Chausey Islands. Professional fisherman Ian is also passionate about sea kayaking.
We embarked with him on a full day of discover in the Chausey Islands to witness these rugged and wild outcrops and marvel at the abundant wildlife and stunning seascapes. A wonderful and different way to experience Normandy and really connect with the beauty of this little paradise!
Setting sail on a fishing boat for the Chausey Islands
Here we are in Granville, just under the fish market to meet Ian. We are greeted by a team of fishermen who introduce themselves to us. We’ll be joining them in their fishing boat, the Grande Ancre, on the journey the Chausey Islands. Our sea kayaks are loaded in the boat, amidst all the fishing equipment and the oysters and clams bags. Comfort isn’t the first asset of this authentic fishing boat, but the friendly atmosphere totally makes up for it ! All aboard…off we go!
Living the lives of fishermen
The Chausey Islands appear on the horizon about 10 miles after leaving Granville. The crew drops the anchor and disembarks onto a small barge on which 12 bags containing 500 kg of clams each are loaded. As Ian steers the boat, his team gear up with shovels settles on the barge.
At a particular moment, they start rapidly throwing six tons of shellfish in the water in an intense huge collective effort. Their hard-work will pay off in a year’s time when they come and collect the mature shellfish. For now, it’s time for us to jump on our kayaks and go and explore!
Kayaking around the Chausey archipelago
Provided with wetsuits and life jackets, we are given all the important instructions for a smooth paddle, as well as equipped with a map of the archipelago to find our way. Ian insists on safety as currents can be dangerous. You don’t need previous experience to ride a kayak. Kayaking is a simple sport that any beginner can learn very quickly. Ian briefs us on how to paddle efficiently as we settle by pairs in the user-friendly sea kayaks. Kayaking is a wonderful way to exercise and such a fun way to roam into places that even boats cannot go to.
What is most spectacular here is the unique colour of the water found around the islands. At midday, as light reflects onto the sea, it gives an eerie azure and emerald colour to the water. Such an invitation to jump in for a refreshing swim. We’re alone, cut-off from the world on unspoiled and isolated havens that sooth the soul, giving us a lagoon-inspired castaway island feel. These are really the islets to get away from it all. A little slice of paradise.
A way of life
At the end of the day, at 6pm, the tide comes in and the islands disappear. It’s time to leave and boat ride back to Granville. On the way, we help Ian clean the mussels we’ll get to taste later, while he skillfully opens delicious fresh oysters for us to sample. A real treat for our taste buds!
During the crossing, we enjoy chatting with the crew and discussing their challenging job as fishermen, defined by the raw power of the elements. Back in Granville after this enchanting encounter and unforgettable experience, we all agree that Chausey is truly a heavenly spot in Normandy!
The Chausey Islands
Considered a district of Granville, the Chausey Islands comprise 350 islets at low tide and around 50 at high tide. No longer inhabited, they are a wildlife sanctuary, protected bird reserve and paradise for fish, lobsters and shellfish.
The above information is subject to change.