Tag Archives: donkey

Ile de Ré: One of France’s Best Holidays



Last winter it was the New York Times that put the Ile de Ré on a best list.  Now The Times has done it.  Celebrating the island in its list of the 50 best French holidays and as one of the 10 best French breaks for families. I have to agree…


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Great beaches, lovely food and if you want to get on a bike, brilliant.  The island is a cyclist’s dream.  A network of cycle routes goes up, down and across Ré.  Pedalling is made that much easier by the lack of hills.

By bike you are never more than a few minutes from another beach.  Of course if four legs rather than two wheels is your kind of thing, there are always the donkeys.  On a good day you can hear them from our garden.


There are more places to rent a bike than rent a car on the island.  A cycle certainly gets you to places you can’t drive to.  Your wheels will be handy for some of the oyster shacks.



However you spend your day, be it on the  beach or just wandering the whitewashed villages, you need to be ready for sundown.  The island gets some brilliant sunsets.  We love the short walk from our house in St Martin de Ré  to see the amazing colours round the harbour.


In summer St Martin de Ré has its own night market. You can have dinner at our favourite harbourside restaurant, Bistrot Marin and then check out the stalls as you wander home to dream of the next day. Hoping it will start with breakfast in the garden.

To find out more about our house on the Ile de Ré click here.

For the latest on availability check here.







The Ile de Ré donkeys

They are curious creatures, the Ile de Ré donkeys. Some look positively rastafarian, others like the donkeys you might see on a British beach. In fact the longer haired animals are a rather rare species, the Baudet du Poitou.

Once a common site in the Poitou Charentes countryside these lovely animals were in danger of becoming extinct as machines took over.  Today St Martin de Ré is home to a herd of them. You can usually find them hanging around the town’s ancient walls.  Sometimes we can hear them in our garden when they start braying…

Sadly the animals are still fragile, over the winter a donkey died because visitors kept feeding it things like bread.  It turns out their stomachs can’t cope with it.  Now extra signs have gone up to remind holidaymakers that the donkeys don’t need food.  However, you can still ride them.

The donkeys are turned out in their Sunday best every weekend in St Martin.  These donkeys are called the ânes en culotte.  Their pyjamas may look daft but they are genuine.  The proper working donkeys used to wear them as protection for their legs from all the mosquitoes and other insects on the salt marshes.

This year the island’s donkeys are being celebrated with a special exhibition in St Martin. Âne-en-Ré, une exposition culottée is at the Musée Ernest Cognacq just down the road from our house.

If you want to stay and visit the donkeys, we have just one week left free if you want to book for the school summer holidays.  Details here.