The island of Molène

Île-Molène Île-Molène
  • Type Pedestrian
  • Distance 4 Km
  • Difficulty Easy
  • Walks
Molène Beach
The sheltered port
The ordeal
Church of Saint-Ronan
notre-Dame du Bon Secours

About us

The largest island in an archipelago of some twenty islands and islets, Molène boasts a remarkable environment and an extremely diverse heritage. On the island, you can get around on foot.

If you're a gamer, a treasure hunt is available at the Iroise Bretagne Tourist Office. This itinerary will take you through all the riddles. Will you find the mystery phrase?

See the bottom of the page for all the activities and restaurants in the area.

Documents to download
Step 1/15:

Departure is above the landing stage.

Found at sea by a fisherman, this statue, christened Notre-Dame du Bon Retour, was initially placed in the church.
It wasn't until 1960 that it was installed in its current location. The bishopric wanted it to face out to sea, to protect sailors.

The Molène archipelago is made up of several islands and islets. The orientation table will help you find them more easily.

Return status and orientation table

Built in 1976, the impluvium is a process of Roman origin that consists of placing large slabs of concrete on a gentle slope to collect rainwater in a central channel.
With a capacity of 1,500 m3, this reserve helps to make the island self-sufficient.

The impluvium

Once a procession station, the Calvary at Le Théven is a 4-level cross. It is larger than the Calvaire du Karit in the village (a micaschist cross dating from 1618). It is a mission cross dating from 1921. Another mission cross dating from 1949 is located in the cemetery.
Today, it is a place to relax.
It offers a breathtaking view of the Iroise Sea.

The ordeal

A characteristic feature 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.

Dry stone walls

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 site

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

A lifeline for many sailors, Molène's semaphore, decommissioned in 1983, has long been a source of pride for the island's inhabitants.
Owned by the Conseil Général since 2005, the fully restored semaphore presents the daily life and missions of the lookouts on two levels.
Take the time to visit!
Open 7 days a week during school vacations (except February).
September, weekends and public holidays in May and June. Free admission.
Length of visit: 20 to 30 min.

The semaphore

The church, dedicated to Saint-Ronan (who made a stopover on Molène in 520 AD, before founding Locronan), houses magnificent relics which can be viewed in a display case.
The building was rebuilt between 1878 and 1881 to plans by architect Ernest Le Guerrannic.
The sacristy, bell tower and spire were restored and rendered watertight in 2007.

Church of Saint-Ronan

In a corner of the island's cemetery, you can pay your respects to the graves of those shipwrecked on the liner Drummond Castle.
Of the 242 English victims of the shipwreck on the night of June 16, 1896, 29 bodies were recovered by Molenese fishermen or washed up by the sea, then buried on the island in this plot dedicated to them.

The English cemetery

According to legend, the island of Molène was short of water when Saint Ronan landed there in 520 AD. He took a stick and sank it into the ground to make water flow.
A well was built on this site.
Before the cholera epidemic that decimated the island in 1893, water from Saint Ronan's well was widely consumed.
Until 1897, with the installation of the English cistern, the island's 2 wells, when they hadn't dried up, were the only sources of "potable" water.
In 1938, the Saint Ronan well (which communicated with the port and often... salt water) had to supply water only for livestock and laundry. This water was in fact brackish and unfit for consumption.
From then on, private cisterns multiplied, and there were few houses without one.
Nevertheless, until the discovery of a source of drinking water in the north of the island in 1989, the water shortage was felt every year, necessitating the periodic dispatch of a tanker.
The 2 wells have long since been condemned.

The Saint-Ronan well

This is the shelter of the former rowing lifeboat "Amiral Roussin" (1894-1950).
A major monument in Molène's port and history, it was long used to store bags of petit-goémon (which the local 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 working in the fields to rescue at sea. An imitation stained glass window depicts Saint Ronan.

The Roussin shelter and frescoes

After two years of work, the Maison de l'Environnement on the island of Molène reopened its doors in August 2019. The project to promote the island's heritage is managed by the Parc naturel marin d'Iroise, in collaboration with the municipality and the Communauté de commune Pays d'Iroise.
Located at Le Karit, the Maison de l'Environnement is free and open to anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of the island, its biodiversity, its inhabitants and its history.
Open daily from 9am to 7pm, it's well worth a visit!

The island environment house

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-meter dike (with landing stairs to the north) and a slipway to the south (La cale du môle.).
The imposing structure will consist of a solid mass of dry stone contained between two lateral facings built in hydraulic mortar and grouted in Portland cement.
The local population, invited to give their opinion on the contribution they would make to the execution of this project, voted, for the transport of materials, one day's service per month and per inhabitant. The work was completed in 1865.

The sheltered port

This museum, located behind the town hall, is dedicated to the sinking of the Drummond Castle on June 16, 1896, which claimed 242 English victims.
This disaster, which forever marked the island's history, is retraced in this museum through drawings, models, portraits and a host of objects found at the scene of the tragedy.

Drummond Castle Museum
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