Friday, July 08, 2011

Three places to vacation (3)

I am not sure what paradise is. But if there is such a thing, it must be Ile d'Yeu. People on the island think that the name Yeu is somehow derived from the God Jupiter. I'll accept some of that. But Yeu or Oya, islanders call it that sometimes, might just simply mean island similar to the Norwegian word "√ły" which means island. The island was probably visited by the vikings in their travels around the world.

It is nearly 10km long and 4km wide.

The Ile d'Yeu harbor where the ferry arrives is Port Joinville.

The real reason why it is like paradise is that it is just simply beautiful. It has a sense of place, and you feel your world has become small enough to be manageable.

The islanders love the sea, and I immediately felt at home here. "Partons, la mer est belle..." The sea is a deep jade blue. The crab-fishing boats, colorful themselves, carry black, yellow, red, or white flags on long thin poles meant to mark the crab cages that are placed in the waters around the island. Sadly there are fewer and fewer of those boats now because of the EU's quotas on all kinds of seafood. For that reason the island population that used to make its living exclusively from products of the sea, now relies more and more on tourism.

The island is very small. Its white-washed houses with their red tile roofs and their pastel-colored mostly blue or green shutters show a style reminiscent of either Portuguese or Greek villages. The island has all the necessecities for a proper little world of its own. It has a cedar forest. It has an ancient castle. It has windmills here and there. Some of them look as if Don Quixote had put them there himself. It has villages, and it has beaches, wonderful beaches and gentle waves along with dunes on the protected side that faces the French coast. Its wild winds and big rolling whitewater breakers, along a rocky coast, open the view to the Atlantic water of the Bay of Biscaye.

The little place where I stayed is secluded, and large cedar trees protect it from the elements. My brother who has planted hydrangeas and roses and hybiscus and wisterias, arranged his own garden with several tables with chairs so that he can sit outside in sunshine depending on the time of day. He is retired and putters around his place and builds and adds to his little world. It owns him and he owns it. And I have it stored behind the window of my eyes to tell me that peace is a quiet place off the French coast.

The castle is on the wild side of the island--the cote sauvage--with rocky cliffs and wonderful beaches.


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