Located in the Western Coast three hours away from Paris, I had a great long weekend trip indulging in oysters, lounging by the beach and taking long bike rides throughout the Island. Known as a hidden gem to French locals, I only found out about this place after speaking with the mother of my Fiancée. While most tourists head to Nice or Marseille to enjoy the last days of warmth, I decided to spend the early days of Fall here and was surely not disappointed.
Ile de Ré is a separate island connected to the city of La Rochelle and only accessible by a boat or bridge. The beach itself reminds me of the beaches in Normandy with plenty of interesting rock formations and a nice breeze.
While the weather was forecasted to be rainy all weekend, we were met with a mix of sun and brief rain showers throughout our stay. Seeing rainbows everyday clearly made for a happy day!
Bicycles are the way to travel through the scenic streets of Ile de Ré as the island is relatively flat and you can easily bike from one town to the next. We rented our Premium bikes for 22€ for 2 days and bike shops were easily located in the local towns. Renting a car would also be useful in the Autumn months as the Public transportation is a bit scarce with buses running every 1-2 hours throughout the day but more frequent in the summer months.
Arriving to Ile de Ré from La Rochelle Gare, we pre-booked a taxi with Abeilles and paid a fair price for our 30 minute ride. There is a public bus that takes you into Ile de Ré for 5€ but service stops after 11pm. The bus generally runs every hour in the Fall/Winter season.
Where to Stay
We rented a nice little Cabin at Sainte-Marie-de-Ré in a quiet quaint neighborhood. Located 15 minutes on foot to the local market, you can buy fresh fish, cheese, saucisson and pâté. The prices were extremely fair €€ and everyone was lovely. The beach was a 5 minute walk from the Cabin.
Les Portes-en-Ré is also a good option with beautiful beaches and at the Western most tip of the Island. Prices are slightly pricer but well worth the splurge. There is a strict no noise rule after 10pm as the locals like to enjoy their night in peace.
We also came across several Oyster “Huîtres” shacks/restaurants where you could sample the best oysters produced locally. 16 for 16€ oysters + a glass of wine. Not a bad deal. €
En route to Ars-en-Ré from Saint-Martin, we found a lovely Salon de Thé Z’adore. Beautifully decorated with odds and ends from the 1960s and big plush leather couches, you feel a bit of nostalgia from the days of our grandparents. There was an array of freshly baked cakes and tarts with an excellent selection of teas. The owner was lovely and beautifully dressed in a Chanel suit. €€
We spent our last day in this cute town by the Sea. Plenty of restaurants lined the Pier with all kinds of quaint shops selling sea salt and jams.
Great day to end our girls trip. On y va back to Paris!