Travel // The Ile de Re Part One {2018 edition}

July 20, 2018

A couple of weeks ago we returned to the Ile de Re for a 5 day trip. We don't often go back to places, in the past we've always thought that the world is so huge and there are so many new places to explore. But actually, the Ile de Re was different for us. Since our first trip there two years back {see these two posts on that trip here and here}, we knew that we had to return! It's risky play, when you've had such an incredible holiday with perfect weather the time before, would it ever live up to those expectations? Luckily it was even better this time. And quite frankly, when you're on an island as pretty as Re, with hollyhocks on every street, miles of cycle paths on bikes to explore and insanely delicious food and patisseries around every corner, how could it ever not be a complete dream?!

I wrote about a lot of our trip on the previous blog posts, and we pretty much just did the exact same as last time, but lots of you have asked for our travel info for visiting the Ile de Re so I'll do a quick summary and then let the photos do the talking...

- We flew into La Rochelle airport which is just a mile away from the bridge linking to the island. You could drive but it's largely a car free island where bikes rule instead plus there's a hefty toll to cross the bridge by car in the summer months.
- We chose early July to visit as this is when we find the island best, full of life and the markets are all on every day in each town but before all the Parisians arrive. Late July and August will be the busiest. You can go out of season which looks very peaceful and a lot quieter but I don't know if it would have the same kind of buzz without the markets etc?
- There are 10 villages. We've stayed twice now in St Martin de Re which is the main harbour town as we find it the best for restaurants/ice cream shops and a really great central base. But I'd also recommend La Flotte or some of the beachy towns like La Couarde sur Mer or La Bois en Plage if you want more of a beach holiday.
- Accommodation can be tricky. The French own a huge amount of second homes here that they often spend all summer in. In peak times a lot of the rentals are Saturday to Saturday only. There are a few really nice hotels on the island but we've always done this break knowing we'll be out all day so last time stayed in La Jettee hotel on the harbour which was nice enough for the money but this time we wanted to self cater so booked an Airbnb {this one and you can use this link to sign up for £25 off your first trip anywhere in the world}. It was no frills but a perfect base. The only thing to note though is that it seems common practice to not have bedlinen/towels included in rentals there so you can either pay to rent them or we took our own in our suitcase. 
- On our last visit we took a bus across to the island but this time they've seemed to really reduce the airport timetable so took a taxi.
- There are lots of really great restaurants across the island. Last time La Cible and Osteria Re were two of our favourites but this time we actually didn't eat out once and fell head over heels in love with the markets and supermarkets, their produce is amazing.
- You really can't beat a jambon fromage baguette, the pastries, the carrot Rapee salads, the spit roast chickens, it's all DELICIOUS.
- Ice cream at La Martiniere is a MUST and we went there daily. It's said to be one of the best ice cream parlours across the whole of France and my favourite flavour was caramel fleur de sel with salt from the island, pear and white chocolate. 
- Everyone buys baguettes daily and it's fun to watch the French on their bikes with a basket and 6 baguettes inside. We worked out that the baguette to person ratio is probably 3/4 daily each. 
- There are miles and miles of car free cycle routes to explore the island so you really should hire bikes.
- If you're going at peak time it's wise to reserve in advance. We didn't and just looked around the harbour at the 4 different bike hire shops to compare prices on our first evening and in the end went for the one which is on the island in the middle of the harbour in St Martin {sorry I can't remember the name!} but there's also Cyclosurf and ... that are in every town.
- Our favourite beaches are at the top of the island, a big day's cycling away but so worth it to get to Le Trousse Chemise. 
- Also the beach that runs along the La Couarde/Le Bois Plage side of the island is gorgeous and there are lots of different beautiful entrances and boardwalks to it.
- The markets run every morning from about 8am until lunchtime and are perfect for stocking up on lunch supplies to take to the beach.
- Baskets are the law. You'll want to buy them all and pretend you're French.
- You can't really get lost as all the cycle paths have arrows and signs/distances for each town. And you'll cycle through fields, along the coastal paths, through vineyards, past oyster farms and through salt farms. 
- You'll love seeing adults and children of all ages just cycling care free, it's such a magical place.
- But promise to keep it a secret?! I almost don't want to write this blog post! As I know we'll want to go back time and time again.

Picking up breakfast pastries. 

Within minutes of arriving we'd already found the hollyhocks {!}. My photos are literally alll shutters, bikes and hollyhocks. They seem to grow SO well on the island.

French supermarkets are amazing.

These are our favourite lunches for when we're baguette - ed out.  Salad boxes with some protein, bread sticks, a salad dressing in a cute little bottle {so french} and even a cookie. 

Around St Martin De Re

Dreamy houses. {dress is last season I'm afraid}


Breakfast by the harbour.

Our first day was spent visiting La Flotte.

They have one of the best outdoor fruit markets on the island. 

My happy to be in France face.

I'd chosen a beautiful cream bike from the rental shop but after a couple of miles cycling I realised that it didn't have working gears and was super wobbly! That evening we went to swap it, no more cream bike!

I could spend forever cycling around and eating those baguettes.

We bought a new remote tripod before we went away so had fun trying it out one afternoon in St Marie de Re. {this one}

The view from our Airbnb.

Nautical themed. My favourite!

Wandering around the harbour for our evening ice cream fix.

Love how the city is fortified and you have to cycle over these bridges and through the old gate towers to get in and out.

Early morning sunrise. The days were really long whilst we were there, the sun didn't set until 10pm and it was a heatwave again. 

On our second day we decided to go for the longest bike ride, a 60km round trip to the very top right of the island and back.

Calm sea.

Les Portes.

Another day, another market.

When you find the ripest fig tree to scrump from! Our favourites.

We made it to the beach.


Ben set up this genius sun shade.

Spent a couple of hours picnicking and padding.

Before cycling back for the world cup. It was so exciting whilst we were out there with both France & England playing.

Football and figs...

A Citroen 2CV!

Back with part 2 next.

R <3 xx 

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