Ile de Ré. The Nantucket of France
The French like to keep this island a a secret. Once you see it, you will too. This small island is a quiet charming get away. Only 3 hours from Paris on the TGV, the fast train. There is a bus that depart La Rochelle train station to the island or taxi’s are always available and cost @ 60 euros one way. The ride is about 30 minutes.
There are luxury hotels and many houses to rent. Would not suggest July and August because all the French vacation there. St Martin is the main town, beautiful harbor with hundreds of boats. The tides are dramatic. Hotel de Toiras is my favorite located at the end of the harbor with dramatic views from the front rooms an excellent restaurant and wonderful staff.
The method of transportation is by bike. There are many rental places and they now have electric bikes. The bike paths are clearly marked and very safe. The island is flat so riding is very easy. The small village markets are fun to go to and the food is great. Buy things for a picnic. There is also a bus that goes all over the island. Schedule at the tourist office.
The harbor is lined with cafes, Moules and frites are a must as well as the famous oysters. Fish is always on the menu and it is fresh. Food is a little pricey but it is a tourist destination so you must expect that. The MOST important place in the village is “La Martinere” the famous ice cream store. Easy to find because there is always a long line, my Favorite is salted carmel, but they say oyster ice cream is different… I DID not try it.
They do produce wine on the island. It is Ok, not something you would carry home but very drinkable and great on a hot day and remember, It is okay to put ice in your wine.
There are many boutiques all over the island with very nice clothes and beach things. Buy a hat because you will need it. The beaches are sandy and big. Lots of space for everyone. Life on the island is slow. Most places close for lunch but are open late in the evenings.
Select a cafe and watch the world go by. Ile de Ré is a very special place.
Enjoy it and protect it!
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