With ten villages spanning across 32km, the Île de Ré is the perfect destination for bike and walking tours.
Ile de Ré, a little island with a lot to offer
Less than 30 km long and 5 km wide at its widest point and 70 m at the narrowest point!
The youngest of Charente-Maritime’s four islands, Ile de Ré comes after Oléron and its 30 kilometres, but beats its sisters Aix and Madame, finishing fourth in the ranking of mainland France’s largest islands, behind Corsica, Oléron and Belle-Ile en Mer.
An outsider in terms of size, Ré La Blanche isn’t afraid of anything when it comes to pitting its beauty up against that of other islands, even much further afield!
From north to south, endless spots to discover
Barely 3 km separate Ré la Blanche from the continent and La Rochelle. And yet, a unique spot awaits those who cross the bridge inaugurated in 1988.
A real technical prowess, the bridge to Ile de Ré stretches out towards the horizon in an upward curve and spares no effort. At its highest point, it opens to a new world. For a short time, hanging between the sea and sky, enjoy an unforgettable view. Striking, Ile de Ré languorously stretches out in the summer sunshine, flat land with a legendary outline when it emerges from the mist which sometimes surrounds it. We have entered another dimension.
Seen from the bridge, secretive Ré maintains its mystery. But it gives everything to anyone who sets out to explore it and knows how to respect it.
10 villages, 10 personalities
From Rivedoux to Portes-en-Ré, Sainte-Marie to Ars, making a stop at Le Bois-Plage, La Couarde, La Flotte and Saint-Martin, the capital, without forgetting the Loix peninsula, the ten towns on Ile de Ré all have their own assets. And while the south of the island, due to its proximity with the continent, is where urbanisation is densest, the north is like a natural sanctuary protected by the iconic Phare des Baleines lighthouse. From the stunning Fier d’Ars to the precious Lilleau des Niges Reserve, making a stop at the famous beaches framed with forests and pine trees, the North encourages contemplation.
History and heritage
With its long history dating back to the Middle Ages, besieged for a long time by an invasive military context which forged the personality of its inhabitants just as much as the structure of its villages, Ré is attached to the remains left behind and continues to cultivate its garden and values.
History and architecture amateurs will appreciate the diversity of the island’s heritage combining religious buildings such as the Abbaye des Châteliers, remarkable military constructions like le Fort la Prée and the Vauban Fortifications, or much more recent war souvenirs with the remains of the Karola artillery battery.
But here, the heritage is also natural. Written in the vineyards and salt marshes but also in the stones, History reveals itself as you explore the island on foot or visit three of its museums: l’Ecomusée du Marais salant in Loix, le Musée du Platin in La Flotte, and of course the Musée Ernest Cognacq-Jay in Saint-Martin.
With a little bit of knowledge up their sleeve, visitors will appreciate the stunning view of the Phare des Baleines lighthouse bound to leave them dreamy…
Saint-Martin, capital village
Staying in Saint-Martin means choosing to settle into the heart of the island, where the past and present meet. In the Vauban Fortifications which encircle the village in the arms of a star, a chef d’oeuvre and UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also little alleyways where surprises await walkers. You won’t want to miss out on la Vinatrie, a unique half-timbered house with red shutters and of course the prestigious Hôtel de Clerjotte, now a museum, which adds a little nobility to Parc de la Barbette.
Saint-Martin is also an unparalleled port which is the centre of village life both summer and winter. Framed with terraces perfect for a stroll, flooded in the stunning island light whatever the season, the port is one of those unforgettable places.
Now, take the time to enjoy the view! The view once you’ve climbed to the top of the narrow stairway of the church bell tower, when enchanting Ré and its pink roof tiles are lit up by the setting sun.
The former home of the island’s Seigneur, built in the 18th century, like the ship-owner’s house which now extends it, La Baronnie Hôtel & Spa**** is the perfect accomplice to Ré’s history.
In the joyous silence of the gardens floats the soul of an island which hasn’t finished capturing the hearts of visitors…