9 French Islands Airbnbs for Those Who Want Nothing to Do With the Olympics

9 French Islands Airbnbs for Those Who Want Nothing to Do With the Olympics

9 French Islands Airbnbs for Those Who Want Nothing to Do With the Olympics

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9 French Islands Airbnbs for Those Who Want Nothing to Do With the Olympics

If you’re keen to visit France, but have no interest in getting mixed up in the Olympic Games frenzy that will be Paris this coming summer, there are plenty of places in the country to where you can escape. Better even, if you want to have nothing to do with the rest of the world in general, your best bet is to head to one of France’s islands. Easily accessible from the mainland, these Atlantic and Mediterranean islands, popular with the French, but almost entirely unknown by foreign tourists, are also the perfect destinations for a tranquil, beachy vacation far from the madding crowd.

We hope you love the Airbnbs we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

  • Ouessant Island
  • Sein Island
  • Groix Island
  • Belle-Île-en-Mer
  • Noirmoutier Island
  • D’Yeu Island
  • Ré Island
  • Oléron Island
  • Corsica


Île d’Ouessant: Seafront fisherman’s cottage


Scenery on Ouessant Island, France

Photo: Arthur DAMLAIMCOURT/Shutterstock

Ouessant Island, also known as Ushant Island in English, is located west off mainland Brittany in the Atlantic Ocean. While geographically very isolated, especially in the winter, the island is connected to the mainland via ferry from the towns of Lanildut, Le Conquet, Camaret, and Brest, and 15-minute flights from Brest. Ouessant Island is small, but there are lots to see, including archeological sites, traditional windmills, and some of France’s most impressive lighthouses. There are also lots to do, such as hiking alongside the island’s cliffs, looking for dolphins and seals, spending time on the beaches, or swimming in the island’s turquoise waters.

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See more photosThis seafront blue and white fisherman’s cottage is a very good base from where to explore the island. While a very traditional accommodation, it is cozy, comfortable, and has all the modern conveniences you’d expected from a 21st-century rental, including washer, dryer, TV, etc. Wifi is not available, but if you’re looking to cut yourself off the rest of the world, you won’t need it. The views of Lampaul Bay and the Jument lighthouse from the cottage and the outdoor space are exceptional, and the water is a few minutes away on foot in case you want to dip your toes. While the house is located in a quiet, dead-end street, the coastal path is easily accessible from the house and there are shops nearby if you need anything.

Two guests, one bedroom
Price: $90 per night

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Île de Sein: A very small house on a very small island


Lighthouse on Sein Island, France

Photo: Pavel Ilyukhin/Shutterstock

Also located west off mainland Brittany in the Atlantic Ocean, but further south than the above-mentioned Ouessant Island, Sein Island is tiny: just over 0.3-mile wide and 1.1-mile long. That said, it’s big enough to be home to 266 inhabitants and welcome visitors in search of some peace and quiet. While the island is very remote, there are ferries (minimum one hour) connecting it to the mainland. The island is car-free and the only way to move around is on foot (hiking poles are forbidden.) The Goulenez lighthouse, the Saint-Guénolé church, and the prehistoric standing stones are the highlights of the island, but there are also a couple of museums to visit if you want to learn more about life on Sein.

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See more photosUnsurprisingly given its size, there are very few Airbnbs on Sein Island and this very small house is one of them. Located outside of the one and only village, it is cute, comfortable, and functional. There is a fully equipped kitchen, an enclosed garden with patio furniture, and even Wifi for those who can’t live without. The water is a short walk away and you won’t have any trouble getting to the shops and the restaurants — everything is within walking distance.

Two guests, one bedroom
Price: $101 per night

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Île de Groix: A house with a view and a large garden


The only convex beach in Europe is located on the island of Groix, France

Photo: Francois Hurtaud/Shutterstock

Also located off the coast of Brittany, but this time a lot farther south, Groix Island has one claim for fame: It is home to la plage des Sables Blancs (i.e. White Sands Beach), the only known convex beach in Europe. No matter what your plans are for a trip to Groix, you need to check out this beach, whether for a swim or a simple walk. While Groix Island is bigger than the aforementioned islands of Ouessant and Sein, it’s still better to leave the car parked and explore on foot or by bike, which you can rent very easily. There are 16 miles of hiking trails and 24 of miles biking trails taking you all around the island so you can admire the beauty of its coastline, its lighthouses, its beaches, and chapels and churches. Groix Island is accessible from the mainland from the city of Lorient or the town of Lomener, depending on the time of the year, via a 45-minute ferry ride.

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See more photosThis large house, with its blue shutters so typical of Brittany, is the ideal location for a quiet family vacation. There is a very large private yard with many trees and a terrace from where to take in the views of the ocean. The hiking coastal path is just below the yard, so you can go for long walks around the island, and the beach is less than five minutes away on foot. The property is also home to a small, private studio that is separate from the main house.

12 guests, five bedrooms
Price: $322 per night

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Belle-Île-en-Mer: Charming house with sea views


Lighthouse on the island of Belle-Ile-en-mer in France

Photo: JP Chret/Shutterstock

The largest of the Breton islands, and the busiest, Belle-Île-en-Mer, more commonly known as Belle-Île, is better enjoyed in the early spring and mid- to late September, when the flow of tourists is gone and the island is quiet again. While walking, biking, and e-biking are the best ways to see the island, you can also rent a scooter or a car. Belle-Île is only 12-mile long and 5.5-mile wide, but there are 50 miles of hiking paths for those who prefer to explore it the slow way. There are four towns on the island, and enough beautiful beaches and scenery to keep you dazzled for days. The Vauban Citadel, the Grand Lighthouse, and the Port Cotton sea crags should be top of the list of must-sees during a stay on Belle-Île. The island is connected to the mainland by ferry from the towns of Quiberon, Vannes, Port Navalo, Le Croisic, and la Turballe, depending on the season.

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See more photosThis immaculate and simple green-shuttered cottage has a private garden with patio furniture and views of the ocean from the top floor. The cottage, simply furnished yet quaint, is just a five-minute walk to Donnant Beach and the village.

Six guests, three bedrooms
Price: $215 per night

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Île de Noirmoutier: Seafront modern home


The island of Noirmoutier in France

Photo: Labellepatine/Shutterstock

Located in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of the Vendée region, Noirmoutier is not too small an island: It is 11-mile long and 7.5-mile at its widest, and is home to four towns. Although it is an island, Noirmoutier has been connected to the mainland by both a bridge and a causeway for several decades. The 2.7-mile causeway is open to cars, bikes, and pedestrians, but is only usable when the tides allow — it get submerged when the water level is high. You can also get to the island by ferry from the town of Pornic on the mainland, or by bus from the city of Nantes. There is a multitude of things to see and do in Noirmoutier, including visiting the fine-sand beaches, hiking and biking the many trails, walking among the magnificent pines of the protected Eloux forest, exploring the local bird reserve, and more. While getting around by car is allowed, biking is a great way to take in everything the area has to offer.

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See more photosLocated in the little town of Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, this lovely, simple house not only puts you in the heart of the action, but because it is situated right in front of the beach, it provides you with golden swimming opportunities and amazing views of the ocean. The views are not only available from the bedroom but also from the two terraces where you can enjoy meals and relax in loungers.

Two guests, one bedroom
Price: $192 per night

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Île d’Yeu: An adorable small house with blue shutters


The Old Castle, le Vieux Château, located on Ile d'Yeu off the coast of Vendée

Photo: DGSHUT/Shutterstock

Located South of Noirmoutier Island, off the coast of the Vendée region, d’Yeu Island is accessible from the mainland by ferry from the towns of Saint-Gilles Croix de Vie and Fromentine, and by helicopter from the town of La-Barre-de-Monts. It is also accessible from Noirmoutier Island by ferry during the summer, so you can island hop during your French vacation. d’Yeu Island is the perfect spot for those who want to spend time in nature, hiking the coastal trail (17 miles) or the inland paths (ranging from four to six miles), as well as enjoying lazy days on the small, secluded beaches peppering the coastline. The natural landscapes of the island, including its dunes and rocky cliffs, is where you’ll get your kicks, but the manmade structures, like the prehistoric sites, lighthouses, the Old Castle on its rocky perch, are also worth visiting.

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See more photosThis adorable little stone house, with its blue shutters, has a private backyard with a patio and patio furniture where you can enjoy meals. Inside, the decor is modern and simple. It is also located across the road from the beach, so you can go for as many swims as you’d like during your stay.

Four guests, one bedroom
Price: $111 per night

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Île de Ré: Traditional house near the beach


Re island in France

Photo: Eo naya/Shutterstock

While there’s been a bridge connecting Ré Island to mainland France for several decades, it’s still very much considered an island, and a pretty one at that. Ré Island is popular in the summer with visitors so your best best for a relaxing time and empty beaches is to come in the late spring or in September. Exploring the island by bike a wonderful way to take it in, and it helps keep the place quiet. Whether by bike or on foot, there are salt marshes to visit, vineyards, forests, beaches, and more. The island also offers plenty of opportunities to spend time on and in the water by renting SUPs, or taking surfing or sailing lessons, among others. Oysters, salt, small potatoes, and glassworts are local specialties you’d be remiss to pass on.

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See more photosWhat better way to explore Ré Island than from one of its traditional houses which feature the classic whitewashed exterior walls, green or blue shutters, and a clay-tile roof. This particular rental, with its bright green shutters is beautiful inside and out. With a modern, minimalistic, and soothing interior decor, as well as a large enclosed garden from where you can hear the sound of the waves, it is an idyllic vacation spot — especially considering that it is down the road from the beach.

Eight guests, three bedrooms
Price: $376 per night

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Île d’Oléron: Townhouse with sea views


Scenery on the Oleron Island, France

Photo: E. Cowez/Shutterstock

Linked to the mainland thanks to what used to be France’s longest bridge, Oléron Island is the second-biggest island in France after Corsica. Located just south of Ré Island, Oléron Island is best explored by bike thanks to the 80 miles of bike path that crisscross it, but you may need to car from time to time. Much like Ré Island, Oléron is famous for its oyster farms, salt marshes, beautiful beaches, sand dunes, forests (which cover 12 percent of the island), and vineyards.

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See more photosThis seafront town house, located in the fortified town of Le Château-d’Oléron, is not only just a few hundred feet from the beach, it is also close to amenities, including cafés and shops. The house is quirky, small, and cozy, giving the feel of a family house. There’s a small terrace to enjoy al fresco meals and views of the ocean from upstairs.

Six guests, three bedrooms
Price: $116 per night

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Corsica: Modern house with gorgeous sea views


Beach in Corsica, France

Photo: Pawel Kazmierczak/Shutterstock

The biggest island in France and most likely the sunniest of them all, Corsica is extremely popular with French tourists, especially in the summer. Corsica is located in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast from Cannes and Monaco, and good weather is pretty much guaranteed. Hiking, biking, and sunning yourself on the beach are the top activities to partake in while in Corsica, but they are not the only ones — far from it. Diving is big in Corsica, so is mountain biking, horse riding, and canyoneering. Local culinary specialties include charcuterie, cheeses, citrus fruits, chestnut flour, and more, which you should make a point of trying them all out. Corsica is easily reached from the mainland by ferry from the cities of Nice, Marseille, and Toulon, or by plane. There are regular flights from most major French airports.

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See more photosLocated in the picturesque hilltop village of Lumio, close to the beautiful town of Calvi and its stunning bay, this modern house has a huge outdoor space from here you can relax and enjoy meals while taking in the views of the glittering sea. The decor inside is modern and elegant, and the house offers all the modern comforts you’ll need; that said the kitchen is on the small side. Plan to eat out.

Four guests, two bedrooms
Price: $298 per night

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.