I could have started this latest post with yet another picture of the sea. Looking through the photos I take for blog, there are so many featuring the beaches and harbours, it’s hard to go water free. However, I’ve realised it’s the combination of land and sea that makes the Ile de Ré such a special place. It’s not just another seaside resort.
These first two pictures for a start. Both taken a 5 minute walk from our house in St Martin de Ré. The red house is known as St Martin’s oldest. Every village on the island has buildings that delight.
This is a bit of detail from the top of the famous black and white church in Ars. You can go up the tower for the view.
If buildings aren’t your thing, what about the donkeys? Curiously the one place you won’t see the island’s old working animals is on the beach.
Of course you never are far from the water. In fact all the pictures in this post are taken within 5 minutes by bicycle from the sea and that is why the island is so great. It has all the benefits of being surrounded by the sea but there’s more. Don’t get me started on the sunsets. This was the view one evening just down the road from our house. Lovely.
To see pictures of our house in St Martin de Re click here
If you are after a last minute summer holiday, click here. At the time of writing, the last week In August is free!
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
These pictures are of another Brocante. One that happens regularly on the harbour at Ars en Ré. We bought a couple of benches here. But we could have created a bit of fake family history. Fancy a few old relatives on your walls? This set would do the job.
Even if you come away empty handed it is always worth a visit. A chance to see how people lived. What people cared about. Occasionally I think how did that get here?
You can see the Ile de Ré on television this week. The global French channel TV5 Monde is repeating a programme that has already aired in France. Thalassa is a regular show on France 3. This edition “La Rochelle, vivre l’Atlantique” celebrates La Rochelle and its nearby islands, focussing on how people live and work by or on the sea. In the UK you can see it Tuesday May 20th at 22.56. Part of the programme is up on YouTube showing some lovely blue skies and sunny beaches.