We are just back from the sunny, windy and ridiculously pretty Île de Ré. This is a gorgeous spot on France’s Atlantic coast with long sandy beaches, sparkling seas, picturesque villages and blue shuttered houses framed with colourful, feathery holyhocks.
Here’s what we got up to on the weekend…..
Saint-Martin-de-Ré. The island’s capital is a picturesque fortified harbor, lined with boutiques that wouldn’t look out of place in St Tropez, bars and bistros. But it is fishing boats that bob in the marina not million dollar super yachts and the boutiques and bars have a laid-back charm that we couldn’t help but love. Stroll out to the fortifications and ramparts then head back, amble along the quay and stop off for coffee or dinner at Le Bistro du Marin. If you are an ice-cream fan, don’t miss La Martinière, there are 66 imaginative flavours to choose from, standouts for us were vanilla pecan and mango and ginger. If it’s funky-restored-antique furniture you’re after, call into Antiquités Barbotine (21 quai Clémenceau).
Hire a bike. The island is crisscrossed with kilometers of bicycle tracks and with a gentle terrain (the highest point is only 20m) this really is the best way to get around and explore. And there is something special cycling along with the wind in your hair, sparkling blue ocean on one side, rolling fields on the other.
La Flotte. Actually the island’s largest town, La Flotte can be easily reached by bike from Saint Martin. It’s another pretty harbor lined with bistros, bars and boutiques and antique shops. There’s also a great food market if you fancy stocking up for a beach picnic.
Ars-en-Ré. A fantastically picturesque spot with a harbor and meandering streets lined with hollyhocks with a gallery here, a furniture shop there.
Beaches. There are vast stretches of golden sand to play, picnic and, if you are brave, swim in. Le Bois Plage is closest to Saint-Martin and has some great facilities but we loved the more remote feeling of Plage des Gollandières in the same area and Conche des Baleines is on the gorgeously deserted north-west coast.
Eat oysters. As you cycle along you find that you pass an oyster shack every few kilometers or so. The island is often thought of as one of the best spots in the country for these delicacies and most of these cabanes and wooden huts that you pass are small family run operations so do as the locals do, pull up, take a seat at the picnic table and enjoy possibly the freshest oysters your ever taste.
Stay somewhere fab. We’ve stayed a couple of times on this exquisite little pocket of an island. Our most recent was at La Baronnie Hotel and Spa, a family friendly mansion with stylish-chic bedrooms and gorgeous gardens which we loved.
If we’ve whetted your appetite to see more, here’s our Île en Ré overview, full of why you should go and what to see and do when you’re there.
See you online at mypootle soon!