Tour of Molène Island

Île-Molène Île-Molène
  • Type Pedestrian
  • Difficulty Easy
Molène landing stage
Port Molène
Molène walker
Old canoe shelter

About us

0.8 X 1.2 km, 200 inhabitants in the heart of the archipelago that bears its name.

Molène is the destination of choice for those in search of tranquillity.

The writer Anatole Le Braz wrote that only two trees had ever grown on Molène: one made of stone, the church steeple, the other of iron, the semaphore mast.

With the circuits published by "Iroise Bretagne", choose quality hiking with official circuits marked and maintained by the Fédération Française de Randonnée du Finistère and Pays d'Iroise Communauté.

Along the way you'll discover the orientation table, impluvium, menhir, semaphore, Drummond-Castle museum and Saint-Ronan church and well.

This is an interpretation trail that runs along the seafront. Along the way, you'll find a number of plaques giving details of the places you're visiting.

Documents to download
Step 1/9:

START: The tour starts directly from the boat.

Orientation table

Built in 1976, the impluvium is a process of Roman origin that consists in placing large slabs of concrete on a slight slope to collect rainwater in a central channel.
With a capacity of 1,500 m3, this reservoir helps ensure the island's self-sufficiency.
Entry is forbidden, but you can photograph the impluvium.


The island has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, as attested by the site of Beg ar Loued, where archaeological excavations have uncovered a dry-stone dwelling dating back to this period (between 2200 and 1800 BC).
The site extends to the north-west, where it is preserved under the dunes.

Beg Ar Loued

Characteristic of the island's landscape, these dry-stone walls protected arable land from the wind and salt that could burn crops. A whole sector of the island is being restored and maintained every year by the town council and the Parc naturel régional d'Armorique.
Vincent Pichon, since setting up as a market gardener on the island, has clearly understood the importance of these low walls and, with the same objective in mind, has adopted the same ancestral protection method for some of his fields. The only drawback, the consequences of which the old-timers never imagined, was that by taking large quantities of pebbles from the shore, they weakened the coastline, making it more vulnerable to storms and high tides.
Since then, pebble collection has not only been banned, but the pebbles from the useless low walls are also returned to the shore.

Low dry-stone walls

The soda furnace is a trench dug into the dune, lined with flat stones blocked with clay. Here, seaweed, harvested from the shores and the Lédénez to extract a substance called soda from which iodine is extracted by industry, was burned. Families from the north of Finistère would come to Molène for several months to harvest the precious goémon, and set up huts on the Lédénez. (There are a few of these to be seen on a tour of the island)
Once cooled, the goémon was made into 70-80 kg loaves, which were transported by barge to the factory (as quickly as possible to prevent them from crumbling) to be made into iodine dye. The goémonier was then paid according to the salt content of the bread...
2 to 3 kg of iodine were obtained from one tonne of dry goémon. The average annual production of this commodity for a seaweed farmer was 10 to 12 tons, compared with 6 to 8 tons on the mainland. Naturally, these fires gave off a dense, acrid, suffocating smoke that enveloped the whole island.

Soda furnace

Situated to the south of Molène, "la tourelle" is a landmark used by navigators to indicate the navigation channels between the reefs (they align it with another building, for example).
For generations, this landmark was also a playground! Ladder rungs, originally installed for surveillance at sea, made it easy to climb...
Deemed too dangerous, the first rungs were removed to prevent any further climbing.

The turret

This is the shelter of the former rowing lifeboat "Amiral Roussin" (1894-1950).
A major monument in the port and in the history of Molène, it was long used to store bags of petit-goémon (which the inhabitants harvested, dried and then sold to a cooperative) before leaving for the mainland.
In 1988, the Amicale Molénaise decided to repaint the old shelter.
Since 2006, the Amicale has adorned it with magnificent frescoes, painted by Laurent Mordelet.
The frescoes depict the life and history of the island, from field work to sea rescue. An imitation stained glass window depicts Saint Ronan.

Old canoe shelter

Molène is the only island in the archipelago to have a sheltered natural harbor, which enabled it (at the time) to make fishing its main activity.
In 1861, the Conseil Général du Finistère gave the go-ahead for the construction of a 75-metre breakwater (with landing stairs to the north) and a slipway to the south (La cale du môle.).
The imposing structure will consist of a dry-stone mass contained between two side facings built with hydraulic mortar and grouted with Portland cement.
The local population, invited to give their opinion on the contribution they would make to the execution of this project, voted to pay one day's work per month per inhabitant for the transport of materials. The work was completed in 1865.

The sheltered port
Getting there with Google Maps