Travel - The Ile de Re, France {part 2}

July 25, 2016

The second part of our trip to dreamy Ile de Re in France {part 1 here with all the travel details}. p.s. now that all the travel blogging's over for a bit, I'll be starting the house posts again next!

Every morning we'd crack the shutters open and wake up to the brightest blue, cloudless skies. We were so lucky with the weather for the whole trip and it got hotter and hotter as the week went on {37 by the last couple of days!} as the whole of the Med was under a heatwave.

We got into a predictable routine, morning pastries and fruit - sometimes in bed if we thought ahead and bought it the night before - sometimes on a bench by the harbour before preparing for a day on the bikes cycling around the island.

On our second day we decided to go and visit the top of the island. We'd heard about the pretty villages of Ars en Re, the Cape Cod inspired lighthouse, hidden beaches and arty town of Les Portes en Re.

All in all I think we cycled about 60km that day by the time we'd gone right up to the top, across to the furthest Easterly point and then all the way back again. But being flat the whole way, it really didn't feel as far as we'd cycled - luckily! It got stupidly hot in the afternoon and we definitely earned our ice cream that night.

That day was one of my favourites though, we cycled past the oyster farms and salt flats discovering more of the beautiful island. 

The French say that the villages get prettier the further you go from the bridge and while I'm not sure there was a lot of difference compared to say St Martin or La Flotte, they were definitely gorgeous nonetheless.

This was Ars en Re.

We always knew we were close to a market when we'd see the French walking or cycling down the streets carrying a baguette {or three!}. I love their ritual of every morning going to buy fresh bread. 

We picked up our supplies, baguettes, cheese and fruit for a beach picnic before stopping in an antiques shop swooning over everything. If only the prices had been cheaper and we'd been able to take some of it home with us!

Feeling very french with a baguette and basket on the front of my bike we got back on on the cycle path to head up to the lighthouse, spotting these wild hollyhocks en route. 

Such an idyllic scene amongst the vineyards and countryside, we of course had to stop to take some photos.

We made it to the famous lighthouse, only to discover that the area in front of it with a few restaurants and shops was fairly tacky! The first bit of tack we'd seen on the Ile de Re, I thought it was far too chic. I mean it wasn't awful but we weren't expecting it, especially being so far from the bridge! You can climb the tower and visit inside but we weren't too bothered. The tide was out and the beach directly behind it was rocky so we carried on along the coast.

Our exploring and morning of cycling paid off as we found a sandy beach with a turquoise sparkly sea at the top of the island, just along from the lighthouse.

Perfect picnic spot! I wish I could zip myself back to that lunch and day.

Les Portes en Re, a charming nautical little town was next on our journey.

With shops to go crazy for! I resisted another basket but bought the print below to put in the new house somewhere. 

I think I took a million photos that week, every single street stopped me in my tracks.

I think the strawberries we bought at Les Portes market were the sweetest we've ever had as we sat on a wall watching the world go by. 

The further around the top of the island we travelled, the more beautiful the beaches got. We spent the afternoon at Trousse Chemise, pretty much the furthest point from our hotel, as we knew we wouldn't be cycling back there anytime soon. I really loved that afternoon, despite the hot hot long bike ride back home.

Sunday's are brocante days! We had googled if there would be any brocantes on the island during our stay and we were in luck, the monthly sale at La Couarde was on the Sunday morning and then there was an afternoon sale in Le Bois Plage. Perfect. We got up early and made our way across the island in search of some treasure. If you've a long term reader of this blog you'll know how much I love a vintage market and regularly buy French bits at markets in England so to be in France and have the real deal was heaven - and a fraction of the price!

We were surprised by how big it was. With baggage restrictions we were limited to small items but we still bought a fair amount - so much that we needed to buy a basket to be able to strap it to our bikes for the day! It was too cheap to resist, vintage madeline tins for two euros, old clothes hangers, bundt tins and the like.

I think a future trip to France is in order at some point, driving this time with a van big enough to bring it all home! 

La Couarde was a really sweet little town with such a lovely atmosphere on that sunny Sunday morning. We packed up our new purchases, strapping them to the back of the bike with the lock and then picked up baguettes and headed to the beach.

Sandy strawberries!

Beachy beachy summer days.

The brocante in Les Bois Plages wasn't half as good as the morning's one so after a swim in the sea we headed back to St Martin through the vineyards. The bike paths were just so amazing, where else is like that??

Another day we went down the island to St Marie to explore new cycle routes and towns, but quickly found ourselves drawn back to our favourite beach at Les Bois and so spent another afternoon there, we wanted to swim in the sea some more! 

St Marie had two markets and we spotted this old Citroen 2cv, heart eyes!! 

I did warn you that there would be a lot of hollyhock and shutters... 

We found a grassy park area with huge hydrangea bushes and shade under the dappled sunlight coming through the trees for when the beach got too hot. It was heaven, lying damp from the sea in the cool breeze having nowhere in particular to go, no clock watching to worry about. This summer has been so crazy for us with the house renovations and trips that it was the first time we felt properly relaxed in a long time and it's a trip we'll remember forever.

We cycled back through wild meadows for our last night on Re.

We dressed up for dinner, before stepping out of the hotel and realising just how crazy hot it was! So we turned straight back round and got changed into something cooler for dinner at our favourite oyster place for one last time.

We stayed out for hours that night, it didn't get dark until after half past ten! We walked to the beach the other side of St Martin and sat on the sand, waiting for the sun to drop.

So, so much love for this guy.

Our flight wasn't until the evening on our last day so we got to visit another brocante, cycling down to the town right next to the bridge. I wanted this trunk so bad! We picked up some bargain old colanders perfect for washing our allotment salad. The town itself wasn't worth visiting but it had pretty views with boats and we loved the bike ride down there.

We wanted to visit La Flotte one last time before our last lunch, we saved the best until last and booked a table at La Cible, a trendy chic place that felt more like Ibiza than France! We sat under the palms right next to the beach plotting our ways to try and stay on the Ile de Re forever.

Hashtag I have this thing with floors. 

The time eventually came to say goodbye, although not before one last ice cream from La Martiniere. Oh the Ile de Re, I guess all good things have to come to an end eventually but this was exceptionally beautiful in so many ways. A special trip to remember forever and I just *know* that we'll go back again, {and probably again and again}. <3 <3 <3. 

R <3 xx 

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  1. Beautiful photo's! And I love all your dresses :-)

  2. So enjoyed reading your Ile de Re posts Rebecca. My husband has recently surprised me by booking a few days here in September for our wedding anniversary as he knows I have always wanted to go there. Super excited now! Your pictures look just wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

    Sophia x

  3. Oh man, I want to go to France again! It's been far too long! Brocantes are amazing, and loving the madeleine tins! Really enjoying reading about your house renovations - we finished (nearly) ours in December, after 6 months of hard labour, and would love to try a period house, the features are just stunning. Good Luck!
    Anna x


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