Stretching along the northern side of the Pertius d’Antiochie strait, Île de Ré is a sun-drenched island off the west coast of France. It’s connected to La Rochelle on the mainland by a three-kilometre-long bridge and is traversed by kilometres of cycling trails. Quaint villages dot the coastline, as well as several beautiful stretches of sand.
Things to do in Ile de Re
You can rent a bicycle to explore Île de Ré on two wheels, as there are around 100 kilometres of signposted cycle paths winding through its vineyards and rural fields. The island is also renowned for its salt marshes, which have been producing fleur de sel since the Middle Ages. This highly prized salt is still available for purchase from honesty boxes along the edge of the marshes.
The main town of Île de Ré is Saint-Martin-de-Ré, which is surrounded by UNESCO-listed ramparts that were constructed by Louis XIV’s military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. Take in the sweeping views across town from Le Clocher Observatoire and delve into the cultural history at Musée Ernest Cognacq before dining at one of the breezy restaurants lining the harbour.
At the western end of Île de Ré is the charming village of Ars-en-Ré, which has been classified as one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France”. It’s dominated by a black-and-white church bell tower that is used as a reference point for ships, while art galleries, cafes and boutiques line its whitewashed streets.
Getting around Ile de Re
Île de Ré is around 25 minutes’ drive from La Rochelle and La Rochelle – Île de Ré Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe. Buses and shuttle services travel around the island or you can rent a car for getting around. Île de Ré is also bicycle-friendly.