Travel - The Ile de Re, France {part 1}

July 25, 2016

Oh, the Ile de Re. Where do I begin? Last week Ben and I had the dreamiest five nights away. Last summer, I'd seen photos of gorgeous French seaside towns filled with old shutters and hollyhocks with beautiful beaches. It looked so pretty and just up our street so I started researching it, deciding that we'd have to visit for ourselves. Fast forward a year and it was one of the best holidays we have ever have {and I still can't believe it's just an hour's flight away from London!} I was in two minds about posting about the island, so many people like to keep it a secret. But in the end I figured it was just too beautiful not to share {just er don't tell too many people ok?!}.. 

{airport selfie. All set and ready to go to France!}
I've had so many questions via Instagram about how we got to the Ile de Re, if we hired a car, who we booked with etc etc so here goes then I'll let the photos do the talking
  • The Ile de Re {island of Re} is just off the West coast of France across the water from La Rochelle, separated by a huge bridge. We flew with Ryanair from Stansted to La Rochelle. La Rochelle airport is about 5 minutes away from the bridge. Only Ryanair, Easyjet and Flybe fly out to LR, we chose Ryanair as Stansted was the closest airport to us that we could find {otherwise it's Bristol or Southhampton}. It's a teeny tiny airport! We then got the bus, Les Mouettes, from the airport across to the island, it cost about five euros each compared to sixty in a taxi. If you drive there's a hefty toll to pay to get onto the island in summer.
  • We booked a hotel in St Martin de Re, the main town on the island. We had really wanted to book a house, or airbnb to self-cater but we were staying during July which means everywhere has a minimum of 7 nights in the summer and usually Saturday-Saturday only. The flights meant we had to fly out on a Thursday and come back on a Tuesday so a hotel was the only option for us. I just used in the end and found hotel La Jetee which was perfect for a few nights. 
  • I liked the fact that we stayed in St Martin rather than one of the smaller villages or further out of town. We cycled alll day then came back and had a harbour, market, patisseries, restaurants and ice cream shops on our doorstep {literally outside the door!} so we then didn't have to go out again. Especially as we didn't hire a car {don't - the parking is a nightmare and you really don't need one}
  • July and August are the busiest months and you'll find that it's where all the French holiday especially Parisians who have second homes there. We were told that it's like the Hamptons or Cape Cod but French! As such accommodation gets booked fast. There were daily markets because it was July and August, you could visit outside these months and it would be a lot quieter but we liked the fact that everything was open and geared up for the tourist season. The only day we found it packed was the day we arrived which happened to be Bastille day, after that it was never too crowded anywhere.
  • Another thing, there are a few roads on the island but miles and miles and miles of cycle paths. You'd be mad to visit and not rent bikes to explore the island. There is a bus that does a loop of the towns each day but we cycled absolutely everywhere. The cycle routes are 90% car free and so well signed, they go through vineyards, fields, pretty villages and along the coast. We rented bikes from our hotel but there are cycle hire shops in every village.
  • We thought that 5 nights was the perfect amount of time there, we wouldn't have wanted any longer and perhaps could have got away with 4 nights. 
  • I found it fairly hard to research before our trip, there are a few old newspaper articles and a couple of travel guides but I soon found that this really is a hidden gem so a lot of people visit year after year but don't want to shout about it. And also there isn't really too much to research, we literally just looked at the map and cycled to a different town everyday, stopped at the markets and then found a beach! 
Ok, so photo time. Seriously, how many photos of shutters and hollyhocks did I take?! And er, believe it or not this is actually the edited version! I've split this into two just to get more photos in. Look away now if you think you'll get bored - don't say I didn't warn you. But I want to look back on those heavenly heavenly days. 

Not the most luxurious place to stay but nautical themed nonetheless! And a great location. 

We arrived around 5pm in the afternoon, we found our hotel, checked in and then were eager to explore St Martin.

Within seconds we'd spotted shutters and hollyhocks, postcard perfection. 

They were everywhere we looked. I fell in love with the town on our very first afternoon! 

We wandered around, getting our bearings. There was a harbour right outside our hotel, then little shopping streets which led to quieter residential streets which had the best hidden hollyhock gems on them.

I mean, house goals!

We quickly discovered that La Martiniere on the main harbour was the place to get ice cream around here. In fact I think it might have been the only parlour in town. The amount of flavours was insane and we loved practising our rusty french working out what they all were. We visited every single night!

My favourite flavours were pear, salted caramel, brownie and white chocolate. So so good. We'd sit on the harbour wall every evening with our glaces.

I wanted to buy everything from the cute little shops! All the clothes were to die for and unfortunately not cheap! I fell in love with these baskets, why oh why don't they make one with Rebecca on? 

One of the prettiest charming towns we've ever visited. Such rustic charm,

The boats made it feel like Cornwall, although with a very French twist. 

We sourced out the best boulangeries for our morning croissants and we'd sit by the boats eating our breakfast. The harbour had celebrated Bastille Day on our first night with fireworks so everywhere was so quiet the next morning when we woke up to the shocking news of the Nice attacks. 

The best breakfast! 

Fuelled with our croissants we were ready to explore and jumped on our bikes. We headed to Flotte first of all, the closest town just 5km away. 

And so began our routine, bike ride, market stop for picnic lunch supplies and then exploring the town and finding a beach for the afternoon! So dreamy. I really didn't want those days to ever end.

The markets were the best we'd ever seen, bursting with produce and pretty fleurs.

All of the shutters on the island can only be painted one of eight shades of green or blue and there are strict controls about building out there which helps preserve the quaint pretty villages.

La Flotte has a harbour like St Martin but is a fair bit smaller. The market is one of the best though.

So so much love for these streets! 

From La Flotte we cycled over to Le Bois en Plage to find the beach, discovering cycle paths through idyllic countryside on our way.

Le Bois again is a pretty town that's known for it's bustling market selling more than just food. I got a little obsessed with these baskets!

and bought 3 home with me...

We picked up a spit roast chicken and salads from a market deli and headed for the beach.

Boardwalk empire. And the bluest bluest sky.

We vowed to come back the next day armed with our swimwear and towels!

See what I mean about the crazy amount of photos basically all of the same thing??

Alll the Bonne Maman jam in the French supermarkets. So many different types compared to the selection we get in the UK.

Late afternoon, exhausted from the heat and cycling we'd flop back in the hotel to get showered and then walk out for dinner.

Some nights we'd just pick up delicious food from the deli inside the market for dinner. I'm not a huge fan of the classic French bistros that there were aplenty on the water front. Our favourite spot was just out of town, a seafood shack right on the beach for fresh fish at Re Ostea.

Going there meant we got to use this pretty cool entrance to and from St Martin. Such an amazing walled city.

The narrow streets and sunlight made for some gorgeous evening light.

Back with Part 2 here where we visited brocantes, spent days at the best beaches, cycled to the very top of the island and posed with you guessed it.. yet more bikes/hollyhocks and shutters.

So so dreamy!! I was half tempted just to buy a house there and spend my days cycling round the island. I guess all good things have to come to an end but I'm so in love with France now.

R <3 xx 

You Might Also Like


  1. Love it, it looks such a gorgeous place! x

  2. It's so lovely, we fell in love with it, kept going back year after year. I think May is my favourite month on the island. Now we have a house in St Martin. Read all about it here...

    1. Oh the dream!! I think I might have seen your house for rent when I was looking actually, looks familiar! xx

  3. Oh it looks just stunning! I looked into a holiday in Il de Re but like you couldn't find out a great deal. We run a seasonal business so October is our holiday time and I thought most things would start closing down by then but couldn't entirely work it out. Looks like you had the best time and I too can appreciate your basket love! Ella x

    1. Hmm it's hard to tell, from what I could see it seemed to be very much from the end of April to September but there may still be a few places open? Maybe email a hotel to find out xx

  4. Wow, you have now inspired me to plan for next year. A beautiful summery magical blog. My only question is where did you hire cycles from ? Xx

    1. We hired them from our hotel but there are cycle shops in every town xx

  5. Oh wow, this is def. top of my list... I'm off to Italy, Croatia, Greece and Turkey first but perhaps a short break from in September with my mother.. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful place...

    All things nice...

  6. Such a stunning place. This would be my dream holiday. One day.
    Loving all your dreamy photos and tips for where to go, eat, markets and Brocante.
    Which camera do you shoot with and how do you get the shots of both of you? With a timer? Great blog. xx


@rvk_loves on Instagram