Ilê-de-Ré – a French pearl on the Atlantic

How did I end up in Ilê-de-Ré

After a short story in Nottingham ending up in “looking for another destination”, the 1st plan-B was just “ending up lost in Paris” – but what a nice place to be lost in! – Where I’ve decided that staying around France, and getting a different perspective of the country, would be interesting.

Paris is great, but a country is more than its capital. Lovely places involved by nature, rural charm, green plains, mountains and the seaside, are worthy a visit! So, Ilê-de-Ré happened – a completely new place in my map. But that’s the idea, to discover new places!

Ilê-de-Ré is a small ‘island’ connected to La Rochelle through the biggest bridge in France.

It’s one of the most touristic areas in the French seaside. People from larger cities, run away from the grey and cold weather, to escape the stress and routine, always as possible, to spend weekends or holidays there. People from all around come in holidays, as well.

First impressions

April began. Paris to Saint-Martin-de-Ré (500 km away) – one of the 10 communes* of Ilê-de-Ré (in English ‘Isle of Rhé’), in the southwest of France.

With only 30 km long and 5 km wide, it’s a pretty small ‘island’, but pretty stunning, indeed!

Pleasant and ready to receive visitors from everywhere, offering a great harmony between places, sea, tiny but lovely beaches, salt mines, plenty of green areas, and a great connection to travel around the communes. A perfect link with Nature is made. Stunning sights, all over the way, wherever you’re going!

Ile-de-Ré, France
Ile-de-Ré, France

The best of Ilê-de-Ré

Small& Touristic: Short distance between everywhere; Some historical points worth the visit, exhibitions, festivals, etc. Easy to get the island map (in the tourism office), that includes the bicycle and pedestrian routes.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Routes: there is a set of bike and pedestrian pathsall around the island. Going through the middle of the green fieldsuntil the seaside, arriving right until the sand of the most beautiful beaches. Either you want to enjoy a calm walk or an adventure! Easy and safe bike tours with awesome views!

CampingParks: so many! Good accommodation option, great for the ones who bring a caravan or just tent. Staying closest to the best spots!

Nature: Seaside, Wetlands, Great variety of ecosystems: salt mines, green areas in the inside, the sea in the coast. Fauna and flora diversity, great for photography lovers!

Water Sports: You will find some good spots if you like paddle, windsurf, surf,etc.

Suitable for Everybody: very safe and friendly if you have kids or pets.Romantic destination if the idea is an “escape-for-two”. Relaxing to just hang-out alone or with friends.

Ile-de-Ré, France
Ile-de-Ré, France

Restaurants. versatility, views, vegan

Restaurants overlooking the sea: the beach a couple of meters from you, where kids can play while you enjoy a glass of wine and wait for your food. Some examples: ‘La Cible inSaint-Martin and ‘Auxfrères de la côte’ inArs-en-Ré.
Your dog can go inside and be offered a bowl of water, as well, in almost every restaurant and café. Friendly approach!

Vegan: I managed to eat very tasty and (100%) vegetarian food in places which had not even this option in their ‘menu’. Simply asking for a just-vegetables dish (or with mushrooms), cooked in olive oil.
I went to ‘Il Gabbiano’, Italianrestaurant in La Flotte – I had a great vegetarian pizza (no cheese)!Good service, fast and nice.
Ingeneral they use fresh ingredients and much creativity, making fromsweet potato or other vegetable a tasty puree, very well-presenteddishes.  And in all places people were helpful and friendly whenreceiving requests slightly off menu.

‘LaMartinière’: I’ve been told this is the best ice-cream parlourin France and one of the best in Europe. It can be found in Ile-de-Ré(Saint-Martin, La Flotte…). I don’t know if is the best or not, but indeed their sorbets are really good!

Saint-Martin-de-Ré

I lived there for 2 months. What’s there? The beautiful harbour, tourism office, police station, Hospital, post office, Children’s park, Camping, shopping places and hypermarkets, beach and of course, plenty of restaurants, cafés, and tourists!

  • No doubt bike tours to other villages are great! Also riding a bike around, everywhere, even when streets in the centre are so full of people, it’s so much Fun!
  • Going until a quiet place, sitting and enjoying the sunset. This is a MUST!
  • Wandering by bike, at dinner time, is particularly special. Many streets are empty, and it’s possible to appreciate better the lovely houses, the tiny streets…
  • Enjoying cup of coffee or tea while appreciating the harbour – my front house view. Boats coming inside when the tide is getting empty, boats going out when the tide is high (gate open).

Getting around

To move inside the island, is great to take the chance and doing it by bike! There are so many places where you can rent a bike. Also possible by car or bus, sure.

To arrive to Ile-de-Ré: there is a bus “Les Mouetes” going to and from La Rochelle several times a day and stopping in each village of Ile-de-Ré; in La Rochelle there is an airport, train station with train and TGV connection with other cities.

You can share a car (carpooling. or as they call in France Covoiturage); you can also arrive by boat (Inter-Iles), which stops in Saint-Martin-de-Ré marine port, also between islands.

From La Rochelle to Paris: TGV (train).

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