Les Sept Iles France

How many islands? The name of Les Sept Îles off the coast of Brittainy means ‘the seven islands’. However, you will only count five if you follow the Law of the Sea definition of an island as “a naturally formed area of land above water at high tide that can support human or economic life”. Actually, the name is not about numbers but is from a corruption of the old Breton name for the islands—the Jentilez. Breeding seabirds have long attracted people.

Hunting to near extinction of puffins on Les Sept Îles lead to the creation of the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, the French society for the protection of birds. In 1912 they made the islands a private nature reserve. April to May is the breeding time for Puffins and Common Guillemots.

Other birds such as Kittewakes, Northern Fulmars, Cormorants, and Shags linger longer. The most numerous, spectacular and largest birds are Northern Gannets. They cover high domed Rouzic Island with large messy nests and a whitewash of droppings. Gannets are the world’s best high divers, and you may see them plummet from a great height into the sea seeking fish. People have lived at Les Sept Îles in the past, such as the former keepers of the solid lighthouse on Île aux Moines. The island is named for the monks who built a monastery here, but they left after finding island life was too harsh. The ruins of fort and gunpowder store are still visible. The seal and bird inhabitants of the islands find islands less tough than the monks and are here to stay.

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