L’Île de Re & Saint Martin

I always wanted to visit this cute little French corner….

And when I got the chance, the weather was not good at all;but I was not disappointed at all . Despite of getting wet because of the storm, I saw the authenticity of the island in the middle of the heavy rain & I smiled when I saw few rainbows .I will not forget those boats tied to the port, getting illuminated or darked under the sunshine that came and dissapeared in between the packed clouds.

“Saint Martin de Re “is the most important city, with a vintage country style, fishing and very cosy. The little streets with houses in pastel colors, cheerful flags hanging between the windows and their “anes en culottes” (little donkeys that walk around and wear a kind of “diapers”), are waiting to welcome you.

Saint Martin de Re

The best thing to do on the island is to visit it by bike, especially if the weather allows it. The roads and bike lanes are well laid out and flat, which makes it easy and safe to ride (even children ). The feeling of freedom, the sea and the vineyards, the musty smells of nature, the breeze and the wood-burning chimneys of the little villages we passed through … mmm, what memories!

Saint Martin de Re

There are several circuits but I am going to tell you about our adventure that I had with my friend Alison. We went to “La Couarde-sur-Mer “passing through the commune of” Le Bois Plage in Re”.In principle we wanted to get to Loix, but a storm caught us so we had to go back to Couarde and wait until the clouds passed. We took refuge in “La Cabine de Bain”, where we had a coffee to warm up. When the sun appeared, we returned to the bike path, but the black storm was still there far in the distance so we decided to return so as not to take another second shower!

Saint Martin de Re

Further north is the village of Ars-en-Ré. It is smaller, but less touristy than Saint Martin and quieter.

It has a market in the harbour with good local produce.


History of Saint Martin de Re

“La Citadelle” is the center of the city and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture that reigns is from the 10th century and the city has English influence as it has been the victim of attacks by the English fleets. The 18th century was a period of prosperity, and of great exchange with the American colonies.

I imagine traveling to the past, in this small citadel with its port, its prison, the bell tower … built at the time by great architects and engineers of Louis XIV. There are so many little streets: one named as “Passage de Alan Cope” refering to an American World War II veteran ,Alan Cope ( a book about his life has even been written).

The Catholic Church of Saint Martin is small but very colourful and its terrace can be visited from where you see the city scape.

Saint Martin de Re

Gastronomy of Île de Re

  1. I loved “Le bistrot du Marin”: they serve French food and local variety (fish, oysters …) in a family atmosphere and with a decoration that imitates the interior of a boat.
  2. The ” Café Boutique Moea “is also great: excellent breakfasts in a warm and cosy corner in the center of town.
  3. “L’Océan Hôtel-Restaurant in Le Bois-Plage-en-Re” is great for dinner. Good cuisine and good atmosphere. The service and decor are great too.
Saint James Shell,Beach Bar Ile de Re

4.The “Beach Bar Ile de Re in Le Bois-Plage-en-Re” is a restaurant located on the plage des Goilandieres. It offers good quality although the price is a bit expensive, but it is because of its location next to the sea. It is worth getting there by bike and taking a walk on the beach before or after lunch.

5.In this area you cannot leave without trying the oysters and the “pineau” wine or the cognac. Do not forget to buy the “fleur du sel”, crystallized salt in a traditional and artisanal way in the North of the Island. Also typical of the area is the “salicorne” or known in France as the “sea gherkin”. There is also the potato “Primeur” with designation of origin. It is curious because the potato cultivation today constitutes the largest agricultural economic source on the island and only dates from the 20th century. Apparently an epidemic in the wine sector meant that other species had to be cultivated to survive in the face of the crisis and from there until today.

Saint Martin de Re

Others directions

  1. I fell in love with the Hotel “La Maison Douce”, it has become one of my favorite hotels in France. It is a large and old house whose decoration is totally in tune with the vintage style and pastel colors of the town. It also offers a beautiful garden in which you can also enjoy while having breakfast in it or inside the terrace or glass greenhouse. You can eat or have a coffee in the entrance hall, bright and warm, with a retro style that drove me crazy! The owners and workers are lovely. For me it was the perfect place to stay in Saint Martin and I can’t wait to go back!

2.The tourism office. There they offer you information about routes around the island and bicycle rental, as well as a souvenir shop with cool things. Strolling through the shops in the center, there are thousands that sell clothes and local or artisan products, such as donkey’s milk soaps or Charente biscuits.

3.The art galleries or furniture restoration shops found at the Quai Georges Clemenceau or the Galerie Glineur.

4.To see the sunset you have to go to the Northeast part of the island. I recommend reaching the “Phare des Baleines” in the afternoon and gazing at the horizon from above. Or even see it from the promenade at the “Plage Campiotel”.

5. A very cosy hotel to stay close to the lighthouse and located in Ars-en-Ré , is the “Hôtel Le Sénéchal”.

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