The best winter holidays in Île de Ré – France

Just a few minutes away from La Rochelle, Île de Ré (Island of Ré) is one of the most popular French island on the Atlantic side. With its little sister, Ile d’Oléron, it attracts every summer many Parisians seeking its picturesque villages, its gorgeous seaside and its delicious seafood restaurants. With the French curfew, we spent a perfect relaxing holidays there!

Barbotine - in Saint-Martin-de-Ré
Barbotine – in Saint-Martin-de-Ré

Practical information about Ile de Ré

How to get there

Ile de Ré is located a few minutes away from La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast of France. The island is attached to France mainland with a bridge, which is the main connection to visit Ile de Ré.

How to get to Ile de Ré by car

To visit Ile de Ré by car, you can simply drive to La Rochelle and take the bridge connecting the continent to Ile de Ré. The ticket costs 8 euros (including return). The bridge is around 3km long (it is the second longest bridge of France) and you will arrive directly to Rivedoux-Plage, one of the main village of the island.

How to get to Ile de Ré by train

As with car, you will take the train from La Rochelle. From the main train station of La Rochelle, you can take a car which will take you directly to Ile de Ré, and will stop at the main villages.

How to explore Île de Ré

We could not talk about the island without mentioning cycling. In Île de Ré, it is possible to cycle everywhere safely as the island includes over 140km of cycling only roads.

In every villages and towns, you will find bike shops and safe parkings for your bikes. During our stay, we rented bikes from a shop in La Flotte that we can only recommend: Cycland.

Useful websites about Île de Ré

Ile de Re in video

We always enjoy shooting a drone video whenever we travel to a new place! Ile de Ré was no exception, and we are delighted to show you our winter video of the island! Do not hesitate to follow our youtube channel – we’d love to have you there!

The best places to visit for your holidays in Ile de Ré

The Phare des Baleines

Probably the most famous attraction of Ile de Ré, the Phare des Baleine (lighthouse of wales) is an impressive 57m lighthouse. The lighthouse is located on the west of the island, near Saint-Clément-des-Baleines. On top of that, the lighthouse area also includes a small museum, dedicated to lighthouses and buoys.

The Phare des Baleines owes its name to the fact that many wales used to the many stranded whale found on the beach nearby in the past.

The Phare des Baleines is closed to visit during the curfew, but you can still access the beach. Outside covid, it is possible to climb to its top and enjoy a beautiful panoramic view around the West of Ile de Ré.

La Flotte

La flotte en Ré and its lightouse
La flotte en Ré and its lighthouse

As we visited Ile de Ré, we stayed in La Flotte, one of the most picturesque village of the island. It is one of the plus beaux villages de France, a well established reward promoting the cutest, most traditional and culture-riche villages of France.

What do to in La Flotte

La Flotte medieval market

At the heart of the medieval center of La Flotte, you will find daily a charming market. In the gorgeous paved alleys, you will find many shops selling local products, such as seafoods as well as street-food.

The market is opens daily, from 7am to lunch time.

Arnérault beach – La Flotte

The beach of La Flotte, Arnérault beach is just a few minutes away from the center of La Flotte. It is on the quiet side of the island, facing La Rochelle and provide good conditions for children. There are also showers and sanitary facilities on site making it a perfect place to picnic after strolling through the medieval market.

It is also possible to practice on-foot fishing, catching delicious clams and shells. We had some luck this winter, and were able to make a couple of tasty meals from our fishing such as sea-food pasta!

Bike to Saint-Martin-de-Ré

All around Île de Ré, it is very easy and affordable to rent a bike for a day or more.

From La Flotte, we recommend taking the coast itinerary all the way to Saint-Martin-de-Ré. It is a gorgeous path, along the coast passing by blockhaus and Saint-Martin ramparts.

The coast trail between La Flotte and Saint-Martin-de-Ré
The coast trail between La Flotte and Saint-Martin-de-Ré

Les Portes-en-Ré

Les Portes-en-Ré is on the other extremity of the island. It is a very cute village, in a well-preserved nature between sea and forest.

It is a perfect place to explore by bike, stopping by the cute beach of Trousse Chemise and the little picturesque alleys of the village.

The beach of Bois-Plage

Bois-Plage and its dune
Bois-Plage and its dune

Bois-Plage is one of the most popular beach of Île de Ré. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, it offers great waves to play with for the surfers, and a really large sandy beach to chill on. Pretty much all the nautical activities are available in Bois-Plage: catamaran, windsurf, surf, kayak, stand-up paddle, kitesurf… there are activities for everyone!

Bois-Plage is a perfect place to stay at Île de Ré: located in the center of the island, it will enable you to travel around the whole island, even by bike.

The Salt March

Île de Ré has historically been famous for its Salt-March, producing salt since the middle-age.

It is possible and easy to visit the Salt-March all year long, but the actual salt production only happens between June to September due to weather conditions on the island.

Saint-Martin-en-Ré

The Port of Saint-Martin-De-Ré
The Port of Saint-Martin-De-Ré

Saint-Martin-De-Ré is one of the most charming (well – they all are!) towns of Ile-de-Ré. Full of picturesque white house houses and historical monuments, it is also the most animated city of the island.

Saint-Martin-De-Ré is surrounded by impressive ramparts and fortifications that you can explore while enjoying a little crêpe. If you prefer, you can also stop by one of the numerous restaurant around the little port, that’s if you are visiting post-covid of course!

Bike in the Port of Saint-Martin-De-Ré
Bike in the Port of Saint-Martin-De-Ré

The Ile-De-Ré was an amazing and gorgeous place to spend a week away from the city. With its relaxing vibes, its picturesque little white houses and the delicious sea-foods, the island should leave nobody indifferent. It is only a hop away from La Rochelle, and be a perfect stop in a South-West France itinerary with a visit to Bordeaux and the Bassin d’Arcachon.

  • Reply
    Lannie Travels
    March 9, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    What a gorgeous place! I’ve never heard of Ile de Re before. The beaches look incredible 🙂 And I still love how much you use your drone!!

  • Reply
    bl2l
    March 9, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    I’ve never heard about this island before. It looks super cute! The picture of the beach looks beautiful. I wouldn’t mind strolling over a french market every day!

  • Reply
    wattwherehow
    March 9, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    This place looks so beautiful. I’d love to spend some time here “researching” the seafood and browsing in the little shops.

  • Reply
    Wendy | Perthtravelers
    March 10, 2021 at 7:52 am

    I love France but hadn’t heard of Ile de Re before. I’d definitely visit Saint-Martin-De-Ré and would like to try some of the street foods as well (especially seafood).

  • Reply
    John Quinn
    April 3, 2021 at 9:20 am

    Are you sure this was winter? It looks gorgeous even then. What a fantastic little escape. Never heard of it, but beyond La Rochelle I’m not familiar with that part of France.

    • Reply
      francoislavie
      April 4, 2021 at 2:18 pm

      Thank you John! Yes we have been very lucky with weather! South-West of France is gorgeous, you have Ile de Ré, Arcachon, all the Basques country … Definitely worth a visit once the borders opens again!

  • Reply
    Jennifer Nilsson
    May 11, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    This seems like a good place to do some serious studying of seafood. Count me in!

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