Île de Ré is a small island situated near La Rochelle in France. We booked this trip a few months ago and luckily we had gotten the last wood cabin available. The cabin is made out of wood and above ground. Everything is pretty compact, but we had everything we needed! The only downside the walls are thin so we can hear everything going on and when there’s wind you can hear the wood-noise.
We actually drove there from Saint Louis which is in the opposite side of France (where Switzerland, France and Germany meet) and it took us almost 13 hours with the last 2 being stuck just before entering the island. Needless to say we were all tired, so we registered at the camping and did a quick walk around the small village, called La Flotte, before dinner and rest.
On the second day we decided to go to the beach and we chose the La Couarde sur Mer, which we were told was one of the most beautiful beach in the island. I think this was the hottest day we had, but the water was still super cold. The beach is super long but there is little commerce, it was mostly clean and we had low tide. The water was super clear with the low tide and we could see a lot of hermit crabs!
At night we went to the village center and had dinner at a place called La Fiancée du Pirate which I really recommend they have super tasty Moules Frites and Pizza!
On the third day we decided to visit the Phare des Baleines to explore the island and also because it was quite chilly to go to the beach. We went up the lighthouse and also visited the small museum they have and the Tour de Baleines just by it.
In the afternoon, we visited the Ecomusée du Marais Salant where they showed us how the make salt and the different types of salt they make.
Basically they have this small compartments of sea water that are separated by clay. The ones at the beginning carry a lot of water and this diminishes the further in the water goes, so at the end you have a huge concentration of salt per liter of water. And because of this high concentration the salt crystals start to gather which is then picked up by the workers. The regular salt is collected at the bottom while the famous Fleur de sel gathers as a thin layer a the top.
On our fourth day we rented bikes and explored the island at our own pace. The island has an enormous amount of bike paths and it is quite bike friendly. If we were there without the kids, we’d probably leave the car parked and would have just biked everywhere. We biked to Saint-Martin-de-Ré which has a fort built Vauban style. This village was also declared a World heritage site.
In the park by the lighthouse you can do donkey rides for 3 euros which is fun for kids. You just have to take the leash and guide the donkey through the path in the park.
On our fifth day we went to Abbaye Notre-Dame-de-Ré, which are ruins that used to be occupied by monks. Just near by you have the Fort La Prée which we wanted to visit but because we were not carrying cash on us we could not. So note to yourself, always carry cash to these places because sometimes you find yourself in remote areas with no electricity!
On our last day, we visited this beautiful church in Ars en Ré, which also served as a point of reference to the boats out there.
For our last day, we enjoyed the beach again but came home at the end of the afternoon to clean out our cabin which was inspected Saturday morning just before we left! And there we went, 10 hours of driving back home!