Tag Archives: Cycling

A new cycle route on the Ile de Ré

Anyone I know who likes cycling seems to have heard of the Ile de .  There is an obvious reason for that. Many see it as a paradise for cyclists.  A relatively flat island coupled with miles of segregated cycle paths.  Now the network has got a little longer.

For the past few years they have been wanting to connect the villages of La Flotte and La Noue.  Until now the direct way was on a rather bumpy and busy road.  The existing cycle route connected the two villages but only if you went the long way round via Sainte Marie de .  It always seemed a bit of an effort from our house in St Martin de Ré.

I can’t say the new link is the prettiest one on the island.  However, it is a big improvement on the road. La Noue is always worth a visit. There are some very pretty old houses plus a market on the Place des Tilleuls.

As I write this, our agency will only let you book for the rest of 2016 online.  However, if you call them, you can reserve the house for 2017.  More details here.

Stars on the Ile de Ré

Ask anyone French about celebrities linked to the Ile de Ré  and usually Charles Aznavour is the first name to be mentioned.  He immortalised one of the island’s many beaches in the song Trousse Chemise.  This year Joan Collins has been added to the list thanks to the filming of her latest movie, The Time of Their Lives. 

Joan has apparantly escaped her retirement home in the UK to say goodbye to an old flame at his funeral on the island.  They spent several days filming down the road from our house in St Martin de Ré.  The church being used for the funeral while the old 2cv was driven the wrong way up the quayside to get a more exciting hotel arrival on camera.

Watching the film crew at work was a holiday bonus for many. Sometimes it wasn’t always clear how much was going on.  It turned out the hotel arrival scene was being filmed from  across the water.  You can just make the camera out in this shot, to the right of the yacht’s mast.  The crowd may be able to spot the backs of their heads in the finished film when it comes out.

Alongside Joan Collins, we saw Pauline Collins and Ronald Pickup.  Sir Tim Rice is involved, working on the music.  Dame Joan has described The Time of Their Lives as Thelma and Louise mixed with a bit of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Other Ile de Ré set films include Les Maris, les Femmes, les Amants back in the 1980’s.  More recently came Alceste à Bicyclette released in the UK as Cycling with Moliere. 

Beach cycling on the Ile de Ré

I got down to the beach at La Couarde the other day and thought how lovely and empty it is.  You could see all the way along the coast, Ars one way and down past Bois Plage the other.   If you looked out to sea you could just make out the lighthouse on the Ile d’Oléron.  Then I realised you could also make out tyre tracks.

As it was low tide, the tyre tracks made me think that as I wanted to go to Bois Plage, I might as well cycle there along the beach rather than through the vineyards.

Ok, so it’s not the greatest view looking down, checking where you are going and avoiding random rocks.  However, it’s lovely looking across at the water while you are cycling.

I cycled as close to the waterline as I could, the sand was nice and hard so there was no chance of the bike sinking into the beach.  I passed nordic walkers as well as this man out with his dogs.  There were even a couple with buckets doing a bit of fishing on the rocks, pêche à pied, as the French call it.

See how empty the beach was.  A weekday morning when the sun was struggling a little to get through the haze but it was still lovely out there and an easy cycle from our house in St Martin de Ré.  To see more about that and find out how to book, click here.

Island dreaming 2016 on the Ile de Ré

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A new year on the Ile de Ré and the time many islanders let us know their hopes for the months ahead.  Each village has its own Cérémonie de vœux.  I was thinking what would I be wishing for and realised it is all those things that make the island such a wonderful place. The reasons I think the Ile de Ré is a perfect holiday destination.

Lets begin with breakfast.  A lovely baguette de tradition française bought from the local market or at the boulangerie on St Martin de Ré harbour…

After breakfast we are usually straight out on the bikes.  The Ile de Ré is a dream for cyclists. There are around about 100 kilometres of cycle paths, many going straight through the vineyards and salt marshes.  Oh and if you hate hills, don’t worry.  The highest point on the island is a mere 19 metres above sea level.

While out on your cycle you also get to meet the local wildlife.  The salt marshes are home to thousands of birds but the Ile de Ré is also famous for its donkeys…

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You can always cycle to one of the villages where it is market day.  This is La Flotte and this man only sells island produce.  It can look so fresh, you will want to go home and cook with it.

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Must be time for lunch.  Seafood by the sea I think…

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It really was by the sea, I was just concentrating on the food at the time.  But if it is waves you are after, there are plenty of them.  This is one of the beaches at Bois Plage…

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Then all I would dream for is a bit of people watching down on St Martin de Ré harbour. Possibly from the terrace at Au Lever Du Soleil.  Then it would have to be dinner at our favourite restaurant, Bistrot Marin…

And at the end of the day, a great sunset…

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If that is the kind of day you dream of, have a look at our holiday home here and book a stay now.

This year there are even more flights to La Rochelle airport which is a 20 minute drive from our house.  TGV’s to La Rochelle station connect with the island bus.

 

 

 

Going slow in the sun on the Ile de Ré

Last week we cycled from our house in St Martin de Ré to Loix.  The little village on the north coast of the Ile de Ré can often seem a little cut off from the rest of the island.  In fact the main cycle route into Loix was split in two by the big storm Xanthia in winter 2010.

On bike, visits to Loix usually start at the tiny harbour complete with water mill.  The pace always seems slower than on the rest of the Ile de Ré.  The village enjoys life at a snail’s pace. This time we even shared the cycle route with a horse.

Because Loix sticks out from the middle of the island, you get to look back across Ré to see where you have come from.  On very clear days it’s even possible to make out the bridge connecting the island to La Rochelle and the mainland.

Loix is not what it seems.  There is more to it than just a sleepy village.  There’s the salt business.  An old fashioned book binders and even a goats cheese maker.  You can go and see the animals being milked most days.  If you fancy a little local produce, as well as the market, people sell on the doorstep.  50 cents in the glass gets you a lovely looking courgette.

Thinking of food, some say the island’s best oysters come from Loix.  I’m no expert, though I do like one of the oyster grower’s ancient tractors.

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When you visit the centre of Loix do check out the village tourist office.  It’s certainly the friendliest on the island.  They usually have interesting art or photography exhibitions and they are proud of the village’s designation as a “Citta Slow”. It means somewhere that celebrates the benefits of a slower pace of life.  As you cycle back home you’ll get the message.

If you want to see Loix and the rest of the Ile de Ré yourself, we still have a couple of weeks in August and September when our holiday home in St Martin de Ré is free.  Check for dates here.

Ile de Ré – Beaches and More

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.

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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!

Ile de Ré – Paradise on a Bike

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.

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To see our house in St Martin de Ré and find out how to rent it click here