Words by Lisa Hanley
When staying in a Les Domaines de Fontenille hotel, expect to be taken on a journey of the senses. Les Hautes Mers, meaning The High Seas, is the newest addition to the hotel group’s renowned collection, offering breath-taking landscapes, beautiful blue coastlines and sweet aromas of the high seas.
Located on the tranquil island of Île d’Yeu, often described as the pearl of the Vendee, it bursts with an abundance of countryside, a rich cultural heritage and a friendly commune full of smiles, ‘bonjours’ and ‘mercis’. Les Hautes Mers offers a retreat from everyday life by immersing you into a serene setting, where you are in complete harmony with the environment.
Nestled on a quiet walk along the coastline of the Ker Châlon beach, lies the Les Hautes Mers hotel. Newly opened in April this year, the property is the eighth addition to the Les Domaines de Fontenille collection, and one of the first properties of this calibre to open on the island.
The design is reminiscent of a Greek-style structure, with whitewashed rustic exteriors, preserving the natural architectural heritage of the island. Hotel group owners Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher wanted to keep the island’s traditions alive in the design process, which you can see throughout the interior décor. Paying homage to the islands iconic maritime culture, the interior walls are painted in natural pastels, teamed with paintings and sculptures from local artists, with Foucher adding his own art collection to the space.
The design team consisted of local architect, Luc Brochard, the agency 44 Avril and the Les Domaines de Fontenille’s in-house architect, Beryl Le Lasseur.
Keeping the boutique feel, the hotel consists of 17 spacious rooms and two suites. Each room ensures an ample amount of privacy for each guest with access to a private terrace. Some rooms have a sea view, whilst others have access to a shared garden space, planted with pines, hydrangeas and hollyhocks, filling the rooms with fresh floral scents.
The rooms keep with the theme of the overall hotel, decorated with mixed wooden and bamboo furniture, and symbolic accessories such as sardine cans, fishing rope and French literature.
Food and drink
The Vent Debout restaurant offers an exceptional open plan indoor and outdoor space, welcoming the ocean into your dining experience. When sitting outside, your senses are hit with the subtle sea breeze and aromas of sea salt, creating a perfect fusion with the seafood on the menu.
With a restaurant headed by chef Nawal Rezagui, who was trained by the hotel group’s Michelin Star chef Michel Marini, Vent Debout offers a spontaneous cuisine and an ever evolving seasonal menu, inspired by the island’s infamous seafood and catches of the day. The menu is sprinkled with seafood favourites such as ceviche, oysters, langoustines and seabass. I devoured the razor clams for starters with grilled king prawns and creamy potatoes as a main dish, and a strawberry salad for dessert.
We enjoyed our meals outside during the evening, benefitting from the early shut down of the island. The serene quiet was filled with the sound of the sea and, during a low tide, you benefit from seeing the sprinkling lights from the French mainland which illuminate during the night.
The interior of the restaurant is filled with hanging boat lampshades and large fish sculptures, whilst the exposed decking in the dining area, bring back the connection to the sea and the feeling of dining on a boat.
In the morning you are met with a heated and continental breakfast, with fresh juices, fruit salads and various sweet and savoury pastries.
On an island bursting with biodiversity, natural landscapes and a unique biking culture, you will never be short of things to do. With up to thirty different beaches, there is a chance to enjoy a long swim and water activities such as scuba diving and snorkelling. For the avid explorer, there are vast amounts of prehistoric sites, museums and natural landmarks which offer great days out.
Rooms can be booked from €240 per night
Address: Les Hautes Mers, 27 rue Pierre-Henry, 85350 Ile d’Yeu
Phone: +33 (0) 2 51 37 01 12