Île de Ré is a beautiful island off the west coast of France known for its cobblestone streets, beautiful bike paths, and pristine beaches. It’s a pleasant 2-hour drive from Maison Coli and would make for a lovely weekend visit before or after your stay in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.
- Île de Ré is an island connected by a bridge. So getting there by car is easy.
- Once you cross the bridge the landscape changes to wide open spaces with beautifully wild scenery
- You may even see a donkey or two! Donkeys are the island mascot because of the soap that is made from their milk. You’ll see many shops carrying this soap, in an array of scents.
Biking the Island:
- The best way to see the island is by bike. Once you arrive park your car in one of the public lots and get around by bike!
- The paths are beautifully cared for and most are closed to cars, so it’s really the best way to see the island and get to the beaches easily.
- The scenery along the paths is as varied as the island itself! You’ll see salt marshes, vineyards, small villages, and sometimes even wild horses grazing in the fields.
- The bike paths are also well marked and easy to navigate but do make your bike reservations well in advance, since they book up quickly during peak periods.
A Village For Every Taste:
- There are 10 villages on Île de Ré, waiting to be discovered, with a village for just about every personality type.
- If you want to be where all the action is, stay in the largest town of Saint-Martin-de-Ré. You’ll find beautifully cobblestone streets filled with shops, lovely portside restaurants, and beautiful old architecture. There are 4 and 5-star hotels in Saint Martin, La Baronnie Hotel & Spa (4-Star) and Hotel Toiras (5-star).
- To escape the crowds and experience a smaller version of a quaint town with shops and a few restaurants, rent an Airbnb in La Couarde Sur-Mer. It also has one of the best beaches on the island.
- If you really want to get away from it all, stay in Loix. You will be rewarded with spectacular rustic scenery, dotted with salt marshes, and a very charming main church square with just 1-2 restaurants.
- The Île de Ré tourism site is a fantastic resource for discovering the character of each village and what it offers.
What To Eat:
While on the island, try the local seafood! One of our favorite things to enjoy is a Galette with a decadent, creamy leek sauce and fresh Coquilles-Saint Jacques.
Le Phare Resaurant in Saint Martin de Ré :
One of our favorite restaurants in Saint Martin de Ré is called Le Phare. It overlooks the port and at sunset, it’s a beautiful place to watch the world go by and the boats in the harbor. They have fantastic seafood dishes and the menu is plentiful with lots of options for everyone.
La Martiniere Ice Cream
- You cannot leave the island without sampling some ice cream from the legendary La Martiniere ice cream shop.
- There are a few locations on the island, but our favorite is the one in the center of Saint-Martin de Ré , overlooking the port.
- It’s the perfect place to tuck into after dinner and stroll along the port or into the cobblestone streets, cones in hand, planning your shopping expedition for the next morning.
- Everyone has their favorite flavors, but for me, hands down it’s the salted caramel “Italian-Style” soft-serve ice cream. It’s seriously one of the best things on the planet.