The other weekend was France’s first ever Journée Nationale des Véhicules d’Epoque. If you think Fête de la Musique but with old cars rather than music you get the idea. Seeing a vintage British vehicle on my way to the boulangerie made me smile. You don’t have to go far to find a classic on the Ile de Ré.
I spotted this Citroen van near one of the oyster shacks that are a few minutes cycle from our house in St Martin de Ré. The island is a bit of a favourite for classic car runs. So easy to drive round given the lack of hills and plenty of lovely scenery.
There is something quite stylish about French cars from the years after World War Two. Compare the Renault 4CV with a British Morris Minor. Both spotted in St Martin de Ré.
One reason for this year’s vintage vehicle day was the crack down on old cars driving in Paris. As far as I know there are no plans for anything similar on the island. If there were then I can see some unhappy locals. Alongside all the normal cars there are plenty of Mini Mokes and Citroën Méharis still in regular use on Ré.
If you want to bring your car to the island, vintage or not, the nearest ferry port with services from the UK is St Malo. It’s between 4 and 5 hours away in a modern vehicle. Calais is a longer drive but you could always break the journey with a stop along the Loire.
If you are still thinking of a summer or autumn break, you can check avalability for our house here.
What do you want from your holidays? Some say lie on a beach in the sunshine and relax. Others want to walk the streets of new cities. Maybe you would rather enjoy the coolness of art galleries and museums. I quite like the bike, beach and brocante option available many weekends on the Ile de Ré.
This was the scene in La Flotte a few Sundays ago. The regular Brocante is just a few minutes cycle ride from our house in St Martin de Ré. We have been quite lucky at the La Flotte broc. Quite a few things in our house were bought there. Though not these monks…
May is a busy month for brocantes on the island. Ascension Day is always marked with a huge market on the Place de la Republique in St Martin. You can read about it here.
Most villages organise regular brocs but some weekends can be tough. Too many to choose from. Do you peddle to Rivedoux Plage for the broc there and then go up the island to Ars en Ré or Les Portes for another? Or maybe just do one and take it easy on the beach…
Whatever you choose, have a look at our house in St Martin de Ré. We still have some availability this summer and don’t forget the island is lovely in September. Everything is open, it should still be sunny and warm, it just it won’t be as busy.
Yes that’s Joan Collins snapped in a 2CV filming on the Ile de Ré. The results can finally be seen in UK cinemas this week with the release of The Time of Their Lives. I thought now would be a good time to revist the filming in St Martin de Ré last summer…
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.
To book our house in St Martin de Ré, or just find out more about it, click here.
I first published this last year but given it’s Valentines we want to give more love to the Ile de Ré. For many February 14th means it has to be oysters. There are plenty of them to be had at the moment on the island. I clocked these with their special Saint Valentin box in La Flotte.
Our half hour Sunday morning walk from our house in St Martin de Ré to La Flotte certainly left us feeling peckish and there was plenty to choose from in the market. The big bonus no peak season crowds.
It’s not just about seafood. It’s amazing what they can do with pork. Great lumps of it.
I always find Sunday mornings in La Flotte market a bit of a treat and this time despite it being winter, the sun was shining.
After a coffee while watching the world go by down by the harbour, we walked back to St Martin, taking the coast route. A chance to see the migratory birds that have arrived and to just listen to the sea.
If you would like to enjoy a Sunday morning like this have a look at our Ile de Ré holiday home. Remember, the Easter holidays are sooner than you think. You can book it here.
Until I manage a Christmas on the Ile de Ré when it snows, I think this has to be my favourite festive island scene. This was taken outside the Café du Commerce in Ars-en-Ré a couple of years ago.
If you are lucky enough to spend Christmas on the island, you may even see a live nativity. Well the Ile de Ré is famous for its donkeys. Perhaps more importantly there are the wonderfully quiet beaches. On a bright, crisp and sunny day in midwinter they can be so beautiful. Great for walking off any festive over indulgence.
Ok, so sometimes the festive efforts can look a little tired but it is a much more gentle, less in your face Christmas than I am used to in the UK.
Last year, these lights were on the fortifications that make Saint Martin de Ré a UNESCO World Heritage site. I’m sure the soldiers that once guarded the place would never have expected to be replaced by giant baubles.
As Christmas is traditionally the time many people start thinking summer holidays, I should remind you that we are already booked for some weeks in 2017. You can check availability here.
With summer finally over, it must be time to start thinking 2017. This week booking opened for next year on our agency website. So if you are thinking about the Ile de Ré for your next holiday, here are a few pictures of summer 2016 on the island.
The beach here is Bois Plage. The boats are in Saint Martin de Ré harbour, a five minute walk from our house.
Everyone we speak to about their experiences holidaying on the Ile de Ré says they find it very relaxing. Somehow somewhere wonderful. A place to recharge your batteries and be outside. The beaches, the cycling, the salt making, the vineyards and oyster shacks. Even the donkeys.
One thing that we did this year that we haven’t done before is have dinner at Plage de la Cible. It’s the nearest beach to our home, you can walk it in about ten minutes.
The sun was still out as we sat down. We walked home watching the sunset.
To see more pictures and book our holiday home in Saint Martin de Ré click here.
This Saturday is what is fast becoming the annual end of season party on the Ile de Ré. It is the annual Fête du Coquillage. Basically a chance to eat, drink and be merry outdoors on the quayside in Saint Martin de Ré.
Around two thousand people turn up to enjoy some of the best local seafood, washed down with a glass of island wine or two. Temporary tables are set up on the harbour so you can sit and chat and also enjoy the live music.
It is seen as the end of the season as it is a final outdoor event going on into the night. One of the delights of St Martin de Ré harbour is that the sunsets can be lovely, we are hoping this Saturday’s will be as good as ever.
And after sunset the real fun begins. There’s dancing…
Our house is occupied for this year’s Fête du Coquillage but there is always next year. We are though still taking bookings for the rest of 2016. The island is lovely off season. Great for cycling and so easy to get to via La Rochelle airport and railway station. If you are already thinking 2017 call or email using the contact details on the booking page and say you are interested in Maison 312.