With its wild windswept coast, Belle-Ile-en-Mer is an especially enticing island. Battered by storms in winter, it is hot and gorse-scented in summer and the roads are quiet. La Désirade, sheltered in its parkland, is made up of a new village of colourwashed houses round a pool. The leafy gardens, comfortable hotelly bedrooms and sauna, hot tub and hammam massage on offer will bring instant relaxation. Breakfast includes homemade cake, yogurt and smoked salmon and is served buffet-style by the pool on sunny days; dinner, formal but excellent, is in the hotel restaurant across the lane. The young chef specialises in local dishes and the presentation is impeccable; wines are paired perfectly too. Research the island’s possibilities curled up in a wicker chair in the reception salon with its unexpectedly blue fireplace: there are lots of illustrated books. Ask your hosts about the 104 kilometres of coastal paths and cycle routes to choose from, while the beaches are a 20-minute walk away. Take your paintbox and you’ll be in good company: Monet and Matisse both came to the island to paint.