As you know, I was on holiday last week, sunning myself in France with my family.  We visited the beautiful island of Ile de Re and I thought I’d give you a very small insight into our stay as I highly recommend visiting this stunning island that is a very short hop over the bridge from La Rochelle airport (we flew from Bristol so very easy indeed).

We travelled by taxi from the airport and headed to our accommodation in Saint Marie (a very short trip by car - well it would have done if we had given them the right address!). This is us dragging our suitcases through the streets to find our little house.  Luckily we passed a very decent looking wine shop so were at least able to award ourselves with a glass of rose when we finally got there!


We rented our small but perfectly formed house through Vrbo - perfect for us and four teenagers.  We didn’t bother with a hire car as we knew the house came with bikes (and there are bike hire places absolutely everywhere so very easy to come by).  The island is covered with dedicated cycle paths which take you through vineyards, pine forests and fields of sunflowers.  You’ll have to traverse some roads too but they weren’t busy at the beginning of July.  It’s a wonderful way to see the island.


We managed to get to most of the towns on two wheels, Saint Marie being one of them.  This is the main town and has a lovely harbour and some great shopping but my favourite was La Flotte (this has a tiny harbour, lovely shops and it’s a short stroll to a very nice swimming beach) but pretty much every town offers a top notch shopping experience and a bustling market, plus an outlet of La Martiniere (the eponymous ice-cream shop) which I highly recommend a stop at.


Speaking of eating, we visited some really fab restaurants, including Le Cible where we went for lunch on my birthday.  Great menu, great vibe (it was so busy) and right on the beach.  Point to note - beaches are tidal so make sure you pick a good time to swim.  By the time we had finished our long lunch, the tide was almost out and the oyster beds were exposed so we couldn’t swim (probably not a bad thing given the amount of rose I had consumed!) Other restaurants definitely worth visiting - Le Plage at Rivedoux-Plage, Les Tilleuls in La Noue, Bois Plage Hotel L’Ocean, Nora in La Courade and L’Escale in La Flotte.  There are loads more but we were with four teenagers and so we always opted for the restaurants that had a burger or a pizza on the menu!


I think our absolute best meal though was paella on the beach with
friends - they DUG us a table (I know!) for all 19 of us to sit at as we watched the sun go down.  What a night! And we finished things off nicely with a trip to the island’s nightclub for a ‘white party’.  The teenagers were especially enthusiastic about this bit - me less so but as you can see from the final picture, I managed it!!
So, if you’re after a holiday where you can get around without a car (the highest point on the island is 19 metres so it’s very easy to cycle), on a beautiful island with decent beaches where you can swim AND surf, plus great shopping, stunning scenery and not too far from the UK, Ile de Re is definitely for you.
July 22, 2023 — Sophie Martin

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