What are Les Escales Lyriques?
Opera by the Sea
Les Escales Lyiques, a French, non-profit musical association, founded in 2005, plays a vital role in promoting musical training on the island. Its activities range from vocational training, workshops, concerts and opera performances, reaching not only the summer tourist population but the inhabitants who live all year round on this small island far from the mainland.
Jutting way out into the Atlantic, l’Île d’Yeu is a small (9km by 4km) island far off the coast of the Département of La Vendée.. It is a 40 kilometre walk round the island. The jagged cliffs, coves and beaches on the south-western coast contrast with the long sandy beaches which skirt the north and eastern sides. The low, white-washed cottages on the narrow streets of the harbor, Port Joinville, have evocative names such as: rue du Paradis (Paradise), rue du Secret, Rue de l’Argenterie (Silverware)…
The small paths that go from the Côte Sauvage (Wild Coast) to the Pointe des Corbeaux are best discovered by bike or on foot and will lead you to Ile d’Yeu’s main sites: la Pointe du Châtelet, the natural harbour of La Meule, the Vieux Château, la Plage des Vieilles …
Blessed with a mild climate and lots of sun, camellias, laurel, mimosa and holyhocks are everywhere. Over 750 flowering species grow on just 23km2.
Ile d’Yeu, located along the major maritime routes, has always been a convenient stopover. In the 18th Century, sailors from the island used to ferry goods between Bordeaux and the north of France. This trade route existed for over a century in spite of frequent attacks by English pirates.
Many islanders then specialized in long-distance maritime transport, others became sardine or tuna fishermen which led ultimately to canning factories where many of the women found employment.
The harbor which changed its name in 1846 to Port Joinville became the natural commercial centre of the island. Between the two World Wars transport by motor boat gradually replaced that by sail boat. The last sailboats used for commercial purposes disappeared circa 1950.