Is it a boat? Is it a bus? No, it’s the Tatihou ferry!

It is not a boat but an amphibious vehicle that serves as the ferry for the island of Tatihou, off the coast of Normandy.

24 July 2019
By Connexion journalist

Tatihou II has wheels, which allow it to cross the two kilometres of causeway, through oyster beds, linking it to the mainland at low tide. At high tide, it floats over, taking a shorter 1km route.

Built as a one-off in 2008, in the Proteau shipyard at Marennes Oléron in Charente-Maritime, the ferry has two 150 HP diesel engines, powering either a propeller or the wheels.

The captain “drives” the boat using controls similar to a land vehicle when it is on wheels, before switching to marine controls.

Philippe Auvray, who has been captaining the boat and its predecessor Tatihou I since 1995, said: “Once you have been doing it for a while, there is nothing very special about it.

Once you sense the wheels starting to lose traction, you push the buttons to raise them, and the propeller takes over.

“Similarly, when the water starts to get shallow, you lower the wheels and feel them start to bite and stop the propeller.”

As a boat, the maximum capacity is 58 passengers, while 65 can be carried if the wheels are used.

The low-lying island has been used as a fort, military jail and juvenile prison in the past. Now it has a bird reserve, museum and gardens.

Visitors can only stay for the day, unless they are part of pre-booked groups using a conference centre on the island.

Ferry tickets are €8 for adults and €4 for children or €10.50 and €4.50 for combined ferry and museum entry.

The ferry usually runs from March to November and tickets can be bought at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Income Tax in France 2021 (for 2020 income)*
Featured Help Guide
Order your Income Tax in France guide now for immediate digital access
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now