top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Five French Channel Islands you may never have heard of

Jersey and Guernsey are the most popular anglophone islands in the Channel but here are five others that belong to France

Ouessant (Ushant) island is the most westerly landmass of metropolitan France and boasts five lighthouses Pic: Maurizio Photo / Shutterstock

To the British, the “Channel Islands” means an anglophone archipelago off the Normandy coast, clustered around Jersey and Guernsey.

These are not the only islands in the English Channel (La Manche); there are others that belong to France. 

Apart from the tidal island of Mont-Saint-Michel they are not well known but why shouldn’t they have their 15 minutes of fame? 

Here are five of them, arranged from north to south. All are easily accessible on a day out from the mainland at Normandy or Brittany. 

When island hopping you will be getting away from it all, literally. Take everything you need with you - don’t count on finding an ATM. 

Read more: Has a longstanding mystery at Mont-Saint-Michel finally been solved?

1. The Chausey Archipelago 

Consists of 365 mini-isles (one for each day of the year) when the tide is out and only 52 when it is in. 

No cars are allowed on the biggest island, the Grande Ile, which makes it a peaceful day out.

Get there by boat from Granville (17km away) or Saint-Malo (a little further).

2. Tatihou

A tidal island off the small port of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue at the western end of the D-Day landing beaches. 

It can be accessed by amphibian vehicle or on foot at low tide over the oyster beds. 

Visitor numbers are limited to 500 a day to avoid the place being spoiled. There is an admission charge. 

It is not a large island and there are only a few sights to see, including a fort and a maritime garden.

3. Cézembre 

A wild and uninhabited (except for the staff of a hotel restaurant in season) piece of land in the bay of Saint-Malo

Only one beach is open to tourists and access to the northern part of the islands is prohibited. 

In World War II it was fortified by the German army. Its garrison held out after the fall of Saint-Malo and only capitulated when its drinking water ran out. 

4. Ile-de-Bréhat 

Still a commune with 350 inhabitants but where 70% of houses are second homes. 

There are no cars but there are tractors. 

Sights to see include a lighthouse, a chapel and a glassworks. 

A local myth has it that the islanders discovered America before Christopher Columbus.

5. Ouessant (Ushant) 

At the wide, western, Atlantic end of the Channel and 20km off the coast of Finistère is this island which forms the most westerly landmass of metropolitan France. 

It has five lighthouses, three old-fashioned windmills, cliffs and sea views, prehistoric remains and lots of wildlife. 

Ferries depart from Brest or Le Conquet and dock in Stiff harbour. 

The island is only 8km by 4km wide, making it easy to get around on foot or by bicycle.

Related articles

Jersey lets French day-trippers use ID cards in bid to boost visitors

Le Havre and Dunkirk to host 2025 Tall Ships Races

Five famous historical French figures who were exiled to Britain

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
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France