Ushant (//; Breton: Eusa, pronounced [ˈøsa]; French: Ouessant, pronounced [wɛsɑ̃]) is a French island at the south-western end of the English Channel which marks the north-westernmost point of metropolitan France. It belongs to Brittany and is in the traditional region of Leon. Administratively, Ushant is a commune in the Finistère department. It is the only place in Brittany, except the name Brittany itself, with a separate name in English.
Satellite image of Ushant in 2003
Coat of arms
|Coordinates: 48°27′29″N 5°05′44″W|
|• Mayor (2014–2020)||Denis Palluel|
|15.58 km2 (6.02 sq mi)|
|• Density||55/km2 (140/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||0–61 m (0–200 ft) |
(avg. 30 m or 98 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
The island is ringed by several smaller islands, including Keller Island (Île de Keller) and Kadoran (Île Cadoran) to the north. The 200-meter (660 ft) channel between Ushant and Keller is called the Toull C'heller.
Ushant marks a southern limit of the Celtic Sea and the southern entrance to the western English Channel, the northern entrance being the Isles of Scilly, southwest of Land's End in Cornwall, England. According to the definitions of the International Hydrographic Organization the island lies outside the English Channel and is in the Celtic Sea.
The island is a rocky landmass some 8 km (5.0 mi) by 3 km (1.9 mi) with a total area of 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi).
"We'll rant and we'll roar like true British sailors,
We'll rant and we'll roar across the salt seas,
Until we strike soundings in the channel of old England,
From Ushant to Scilly 'tis thirty-five leagues."
Several naval battles have been fought near Ushant between the British and French navies.
On 23 July, 1815, the captive Emperor Napoleon – carried on board HMS Bellerophon towards his final exile – spent several hours on deck watching Ushant, the last piece of French territory he would ever see.
According to an old Breton proverb, "Qui voit Molène voit sa peine / Qui voit Ouessant voit son sang / Qui voit Sein voit sa fin / Qui voit Groix voit sa croix." ("He who sees Molène sees his pains / He who sees Ushant sees his blood / He who sees Sein sees his end / He who sees Groix sees his cross"). This proverb is related to the area around the island, considered one of the most challenging to navigate in the world with its many rocks and more than ten knot tide streams.
There is only one significant community on the island: the village of Lambaol (Lampaul).
|Climate data for Ushant (1981–2010 averages, extremes 1995–present)|
|Record high °C (°F)||15.1
|Average high °C (°F)||10.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||8.3
|Average low °C (°F)||6.5
|Record low °C (°F)||−2.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||91.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||15.5||11.7||11.8||11.1||9.1||8.1||8.5||8.9||9.0||13.2||16.7||15.5||139.1|
|Average snowy days||1.2||1.6||0.4||0.1||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.1||0.9||4.3|
|Source: Meteo France|
The Creac'h lighthouse (Phare du Creach) is reputedly the most powerful in the Europe.
In 2007, Ushant hosted a Scottish book festival and subsequently created their own tartan; and in August 2010, the islanders were reported to be seeking to establish cultural links with a Scottish island. Rob Gibson, Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands welcomed the suggestion.
Ushant is connected to the French mainland by both air and sea. Passenger ferries of the Penn Ar Bed company operate from Brest and Le Conquet year-round, and also from Camaret in summer, stopping at the island of Molène en route. The airline Finistair operates flights on Cessna 208 planes from Brest Bretagne Airport.
The Ouessant sheep is a rare breed originating from Ushant. It is one of the northern European short-tailed sheep group of breeds, a type ubiquitous in northern Europe up to Roman times, but which now survives only in a few places. Apart from Ushant, these are remote islands and mountains of Britain and Scandinavia and some places around the Baltic Sea. The Ouessant is one of the smallest breeds of domestic sheep. It is usually black or dark brown (a few are white), and it is now kept elsewhere in the world as a heritage breed.
The isolation of the island has helped the conservation of the Apis mellifera mellifera dark bee, unaffected by pollution, pesticides and Varroa parasites. In the rest of France it has been substituted by Apis mellifera ligustica. As a side effect, the Braula coeca, that has elsewhere perished by the anti-Varroa treatments, can still be found among the Ushant bees. The association Conservatoire de l'Abeille Noire Bretonne tries to develop this bee race intending to reintroduce it in Western France.
Literary and musical references
"Lord Ushant" is the title given the heir to the Duchy of Tintagel (Cornwall) in Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers (1938).
Ushant is mentioned in George Orwell's diaries, in passing.
Ushant is mentioned repeatedly in the works of Patrick O'Brian in reference to the maritime activities and position of various ships and characters in the series.
Ushant is one of the locations in the mystery Act of Mercy by Peter Tremayne. The book is set in 666 A.D.
Father Truitard, a character in Bruce Chatwin's novel The Viceroy of Ouidah, spent "years communing with the waves and petrels on the island of Ushant".
It's also mentioned in Le Sang de la sirène (The Blood of the Siren, 1901) by Anatole Le Braz.
Yann Tiersen recorded his album, Eusa (2016). Every track is named after places of Ushant.
In a 1971 novella, 'Überfahrt. Eine Liebesgeschichte,' by East German writer Anna Seghers, Ushant is mentioned towards the end of an Atlantic sea crossing from Brazil to East Germany. A character quotes in German the proverb 'Whoever sees Ushant sees their blood.' English translation - 'Crossing: A Love Story' by Anna Seghers, translated by Douglas Irving (USA: Diálogos Books, 2016), p. 154
The 1910 novel Das Meer by German author Bernhard Kellermann takes place on the island of Ushant. Many features of the island, such as Phare du Creach and Port du Stiff are described in detail, while the main character stays at the la Villa des tempêtes, which is in ruins today.
Charles Tournemire's Symphony No. 2, completed in 1909, was inspired by and named for the island of Ouessant.
The secret of the seas (Le Secret des Eaux: Ouessant), is a 1923 novel by Andre Savignon where the action takes place in Ouessant.
- "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- "Definition of 'Ushant'". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- C. Michael Hogan. 2011. Celtic Sea. eds. P.saundry & C.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the /environment. Washington DC.
- "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition + corrections" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1971. pp. 42 [corrections to page 13]. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
- Cordingly, David (2003). The Billy Ruffian. New York: Bloomsbury. pp. 256–7.
- Slaughter, John Robert (8 November 2009). Omaha Beach and Beyond: The Long March of Sergeant Bob Slaughter. Zenith Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 9780760337349.
- "Ouessant–Stiff (29)" (PDF). Fiche Climatologique: Statistiques 1981–2010 et records (in French). Meteo France. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
- "French island of Ouessant adopts local tartan". BBC News. 10 August 2010.
- "Islanders Seek Scots Friends". The Herald. Glasgow. 16 August 2010.
- "Bateau vers les iles Ouessant, Molène et Sein - Penn Ar Bed". pennarbed.fr (in French). Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- "Bienvenue sur www.finistair.fr - Compagnie Finist'air". finistair.fr (in French). Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- Alle, Gérard; Le Moigne, Jean-Louis (2011). Abeille et miel en Bretagne (in French). Coop Breizh. ISBN 9782843465222.
- Martin, Jean-Pierr. "Braula cœca" (in French).
- Dominique Raizon (4 April 2012). "L'Abeille Noire d'Ouessant est en pleine forme" (in French). Radio France Internationale. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- "L'abeille noire réintègre le continent". espace-sciences.org (in French). Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- "September 3, 1938". Orwell Diaries 1938-1942. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- "Жизнь моряка (fb2)". rus.ec (in Russian). Retrieved 29 November 2015.
- Bloom, Dan (13 May 2015). "Translation of eco-fantasy book wins French island prize". Taipei Times. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ouessant.|
- (in French) Ushant communal council website
- (in French) Cultural Heritage
- Article at AllRefer Encyclopedia, based on The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia
- Traditional, "Spanish Ladies", credited to Iron Men & Wooden Ships, by Frank Shay
- Ile d'Ouessant - Photo gallery
- Storm Island – article about the island by William Langewiesche in the December 2001 issue of The Atlantic
- Encyclopædia Britannica. 27 (11th ed.). 1911. .