Ile de Re
Visit Ile de Re (Poitou-Charentes, France)
Ile de Ré is an island, reached by a long modern bridge, north of La Rochelle in the Charente-Maritime department. Quite a large island - about 30 kilometres long - Ile de Ré is a very popular holiday destination on this sunny coast of western France that attracts families looking to relax in a peaceful environment where the children will enjoy themselves.
The island also has different characteristics in high-season - when tourists far outnumber residents - and off-season when the island reverts to its traditional activities of salt and oyster production.
It has two distinct characteristics - sandy beaches along the south-western side, and salt and oyster beds along the north-eastern coastline. The more important towns and villages are found along the northern edge, and 'seaside resorts' along the southern edge.
To reach Ile de Ré you need to cross the toll bridge from just north-west of La Rochelle (quite expensive at 16.50 euros return, so you might find you stay on the island more than you expected)!
All facilities are available on the island (including supermarkets and petrol stations) and many holidaymakers never feel the need to leave the island at all.)
Ile-de-Ré has lovely beaches (especially along the southern coast) and the town of Saint-Martin-de-Ré and its attractive harbour on the northern side. Saint-Martin-de-Ré is a bustling town during the holiday season and a visit is among the highlights of a trip to the island.
Other villages include:
- Rivedoux, a resort at the entry to the island
- Loix, on the peninsula along the north-eastern coast
- Saint Clement des Baleines, a small village to the north-west
- Les-Porte-en-Ré, a quiet village at the north-eastern end
- La Couarde sur Mer and Le Bois Plage en Ré, halfway along the south-western shore both with good beaches
- Sainte-Marie, the village to the south as you enter Ile-de-Ré
Other sights on the island, apart from the appeal of the natural environment and beaches, include one of the tallest lighthouses in France at the western tip (the Phare des Baleines, built by Vauban in the 17th century) that can be climbed for far-reaching views out to sea and back across the island itself.
You can also see the ruins of an abbey (the Abbaye des Chateliers) in the south-east near La-Flotte-en-Ré.
Another unusual experience also presents itself - you can explore the salt marshes of the north around Loix by canoe to better appreciate the unusual environment that Ile-de-Ré offers.
Ile-de-Ré is a very bike-friendly island, with numerous cycle paths across the island - both along the coast and crossing the island - enabling cyclists to avoid the roads. There are numerous cycle hire shops.
Note however that these cycle paths are very busy with leisure cyclists and are not ideal for 'serious' road bike cyclists - and the roads are rather congested with cars, especially during the peak summer months.
(Note: we also saw lots of cars arriving carrying bikes and being stopped by police - be sure your bikes are loaded correctly on your car eg not obstructing the number plates if you don't want to be stopped and forced to unload your car just before you get to your destination!)
Many other water sports and boat-trips are also available.
Although the Ile-de-Ré itself has all you need for your visit we strongly recommend that you spend a day at La Rochelle, just across the bridge from the island. It is a large town with a great deal of historical interest, a lovely harbour, a popular pedestrianised centre and one of our favourite towns in France!
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Ile-de-Ré, Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes || GPS: latitude 46.2, longitude -1.409
Map of Ile de Re & places nearby
Highlights close by
La Flotte-en-Re 7km
La Tranche-sur-Mer 16km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Ile de Re, France
- Saint-Martin-de-Ré citadelle (Vauban fortifications) - heritage site (3km)
- La Flotte-en-Re - most beautiful village (7km)
- Ars-en-Re - most beautiful village (8km)
- Jardins du phare de Chassiron - remarkable garden (19km)
- La Rochelle - secteur sauvegarde (20km)
- Aquarium de La Rochelle - aquarium (21km)
- Georges Clemenceau house - national monument (26km)
- Jardins de la Boirie - remarkable garden (30km)
- Marans - ville fleurie 4* (34km)
- Parc zoologique des Sables-d'Olonne - zoo or wildlife park (42km)
The French version of this page is at Ile de Re (Francais)