The Ile de Ré is a wonderful hoiday island for all sorts of reasons but one of the most important if not the most important is that it is so cycle friendly. As the main island holiday guide puts it “la bicyclette: your best friend to explore the island.”
From our house in St Marin de Ré you can cycle to the beach in as little as 5 minutes. A trip to the far north of the island is about 75 minutes. If you are feeling brave you can even take the bike route back over the bridge to the mainland and La Rochelle.
You can cycle to the beach. In fact you can cycle on the beach. It’s possible at low tide to make your way from Ars via La Couarde and Bois Plage down to Sainte Marie.
It can be hard going on the sand. Probably best to stick to the proper cycle routes. They go along the coast as well as inland. One section is as straight as a Roman road, evidence of its former use. From La Courade towards Ars you are on the trackbed of the island’s long gone narrow gauge railway. Elsewhere you cycle alongside the sea. It’s great to stop and listen for a few minutes. All you hear is the waves and the birds. Lovely.
Because the island is flat the only time cycling can be hard work is when the wind is against you. Yet as every trip is a round trip blustery days will also get the wind helping you. And if it’s too much like hard work you can always stop and say hello to the wildlife…
Don’t think it’s just the tourists who are cycling. Plenty of locals get on their velos too. After dark it can get a little interesting. We’ve cycled back to St Martin from an evening at the La Courade cinema. You end up going very slowly for fear of rabbits running across your path and the possibility of ending up in the sea. If you need a little help getting round on a bike the various rental shops have some impressive kit. I spotted this outside La Maison des Vélocipèdes in St Martin de Rè.
To see our house in St Martin de Ré and find out how to rent it click here