Heading to the continent on one of our routes to Spain? Check out this list of things to spot from the ferry for when you take a stroll out on deck...
Between the islands of Ushant and Sein lies the Iroise sea, a UNESCO-protected area that, in 2007, became the first French Maritime Natural Park. An infamous stretch but rich with wildlife, it has the highest concentration of lighthouses in France. As our crews navigate through the islands, here are a few of them to look out for.
In winter, Ushant is home to just 850 inhabitants but, in summer, there can be up to 2,500 people here. The island has five lighthouses - two on land and three at sea. Over the years, it has earnt itself several nicknames including the High Island, the Women's island and the Island of Horror.
The five lighthouses are the Phare du Creac'h, Phare de la Jument, Phare de Kereon, Phare du Stiff and Phare du Four. Recognisable by its stripes, the Phare du Creac'h is positioned at the beginning of the Channel and its beam is the second most powerful in the world - it can be seen up to 60km away!
Slightly further south, the Phare de Kereon was the last lighthouse at sea in the area to be automated - lighthouse keepers lived here until 2004. On the other side of Ushant stands the Phare de Nividic and it is the westernmost point of mainland France.
You'll spot the Phare de la Jument nearby with its red top. Back on the eastern side of the island are the white Phare du Stiff, built by the renowned Vauban, and the nineteenth century Phare du Four.
The Molène archipelago is made up of several islands and islets, some of the most well-known are Molène, Béniguet, Quémenes, Trielen, Bannalec and Bannac. The island of Molène itself is known as the 'bare island' as there are no trees on the island whatsoever. One of the largest seaweed fields in Europe is also here so you might catch a whiff of it on the sea air!
Keep an eye out for the beautiful beach of 'Les blancs sablons' and the rectangular shape of the Phare de Kermorvan, which is connected to land by a granite bridge. Slightly further down the coast, the lighthouse at La Pointe Saint Mathieu is an unusual sight - it has an adjoining abbey!
The bright red of the Phare des Pierres Noires is instantly recognisable and its sawn-off shape was innovative for the era when it was built in the late nineteenth century.
Sein island has a population of just 197 people and is located 8km away from the Pointe du Raz. When Charles de Gaulle was in exile in London, he claimed it was 'a quarter of France' as 25% of those who joined him were from the island.
Surrounded by la Chaussée de Sein, a vast area of reefs stretching to the west, and le Raz de Sein, a dangerous stretch of water between the island and the pointe thanks to its strong currents, the waters of Sein island are well-known by sailors as a volatile area.
The first lighthouse that you'll spot in this area is the Phare de Tévenee at just 11m high, standing on the rocks. There have been some proposals to make it into a residence for artists. They would have some spectacular views!
Next, comes the Phare de la Vielle, a seventeenth century construction situated on a a rock called 'Gorge Bella' in Breton, meaning the 'farthest rock'.
On the island itself is the Grand Phare painted black at the top and white at the bottom. This slim lighthouse is quite modern having been built in just 1951 after the previous nineteenth century lighthouse was destroyed by German forces during World War Two. There is a generator here that supplies electricity to the rest of the island.
Phare d'Ar-Men is well-known because of its complete isolation. It was automated in 1990 but has stood since the late 1800s. A truly remote locale for past lighthouse keepers to have lived!
Whales and dolphins
If you love whales and dolphins then you're going to really enjoy your crossing as the ferry travels through the Bay of Biscay. And, if you're travelling in summer, don't forget to ask one of our team of ORCA volunteers on board anything cetacean-related that you might want to know
Biscay Abyssal Plain and sumbarine canyons
Where the continental shelf drops away, you'll cross the deep waters of the Abyssal Plain where beaked whales and migrating humpback whales can be spotted. The water here reaches depths of around 15,000 ft.
As you near the northern coast of Spain there's a whole host of incredible sea creatures to be spotted. Lured by the squid that live in the Torrelevega and Santander canyons, you might be lucky enough to see minke whales, Sowerby beaked whales and bottlenose dolphins.
Common dolphins and fin whales are the most popular sightings in this area so keep your eyes peeled and look down the side of the ship where you might see dolphins playing in the waves created by the ship's passage.
And if you really love seeing these majestic creatures in the wild, why not take one of our whale and dolphin watching cruises with ORCA?