For thousands of years, people have lived, farmed and raised families on Quéménès, a tiny, idyllic island just off the northern coast of France.
As if to prove it’s been around for centuries, the island is littered with shards of pottery from bygone ages. Skeletons have even emerged on the sandy beach — soldiers buried after a clash with the English, or unlucky shipwrecked sailors, their remains washed ashore.
But about 25 years ago, the only people left on the wind-whipped outpost gave up their farm and moved away.
That could have been the end of the small island’s human history. But instead, the French government began to hunt for new inhabitants to keep the farm going.
The new inhabitants France selected, David and Soizic Cuisnier, have decided to leave after 10 years of hard work on their personal piece of property in the Atlantic — and now France is hunting for another couple to take over for them, according to the BBC.
The advertisement for the island says it all: “Wanted: Person(s) to run Brittany island. Must be practical-minded and resilient. Farmhouse provided. Solitude guaranteed.”
Only a mile long, the isle is a modest heap of sand, rock and grass. It’s part of the broader Molène archipelago in the northwest region of Brittany. The Cuisniers say the other islands are visible from their isolated enclave.
Sea birds frequent the shores, along with plenty of seals, a flock of black sheep and far too many rabbits.
And for what it’s worth, the couple who’s leaving seems to have few regrets.
“Coming here was an act of glorious folly. But it turned into the most wonderful adventure. We developed the farm into a successful business. We raised a family. It has been unforgettable,” David Cuisnier said in an interview the BBC.
France has identified 20 candidates to be the island’s next inhabitants, and the final choice will be announced within the next several weeks. They will be expected to move in next year.
It’s worth noting that, as romantic as it seems to have an island to oneself, the Cuisniers said it isn’t always easy.
But they knew that it wouldn’t be.
“If we'd listened to people's advice 10 years ago, we'd never have done it,” Cuisnier said.
To make a living on the island, as their lease with the government stipulated, the Cuisniers got creative: They grew potatoes that they sold online and to residents of nearby islands, they kept a herd of sheep and they collected edible seaweed. The couple also operated a bed and breakfast to serve outside visitors for half of the year, according to the island’s website.
They even had two kids while living on the island — kids they now are glad will be able to live near a school, BBC reports.
Without many modern conveniences, island life isn’t easy. The Cuisniers have had to rely on a wind power and solar panels, per the island’s website. Their toilets are a far cry from modern. And their water is sucked from a well that’s replenished every time it rains. French media has called the family a modern Swiss Family Robinson.
Still, the family has managed to “live in modern times,” Cuisnier told the BBC.
“We have shown that it is possible to have a normal, modern life, while consuming only what nature has given. We have all the electronic gadgets we need, including an electric buggy to get round the island,” Cuisnier said.