Thursday, October 6, 2011

Île de Ré

½ an hour from our Chambre d’hôte in Dompierre-sur-Mer is the island of . Connected to mainland France by a long bridge, Île de Ré is a popular vacation destination and it was obvious why. With its beautiful beaches, quaint little towns and vineyards/open land, it reminded me of the Outer Banks in NC or Martha’s Vineyard. We started our day trip at a café in Rivedoux Plage with coffee and pastries, then a stroll past the local seafood marché. Lauris had had enough of the carseat not long after getting back in, so our next stop came fairly quickly, in the largest town on the island, Saint-Martin-de-Ré. We walked the city’s sea wall and ran through a park, and after a visit to the tourism bureau we settled in at a brasserie for lunch. My crab with avocado and tomato was definitely not shaped as expected, but was delectable. The view to the harbor provided us with a surprise; as we were sitting down to lunch the tide went out, and what had been a harbor full of water and boats now was a harbor full of boats on sand. The tide would star often in this weekend’s visits!

Once back in the car Lauris promptly fell asleep. Our next hour of driving was quieter, but also we couldn’t really get out and wander around too much. We drove out to the Pointe du Grouin where the Ilates lighthouse was visible far offshore, but more interesting were the dozens of people out collecting oysters. I’ve always wanted to give this a shot, but today wasn’t the day and we continued west to the Baleines lighthouse. If Lauris had been awake we might have parked and done some sightseeing and shopping; there were vendors selling everything from flip-flops to locally harvested salt, but since he was still out cold I hopped out to snap a picture of the lighthouse before we drove on. Les Portes-en-Ré (a former salt-marsh workers’ village) is known locally as the “tip end of the island” and once Lauris woke up it was clear that we would have to find a good spot to park and walk around. So we headed back to the Forêt domaniale du Lizay and parked, then found a beautiful little shady spot in the dunes among the pines for a second lunch. A short stroll away was the beach, and the next hours were spent in the sun and the surf, relaxing in the sand. The spot at which we emerged on the beach had an interesting reminder of WWII; up in the dunes sat several large pillboxes.

Whenever time is spent in the sun on the beach, both fatigue set in and dinner time approaches.  We cruised back through Ars-en-Ré and three more little villages looking for a good spot. After getting routed on one-way alleys that were getting narrower and narrower, with corners that required three point turns, I grew frustrated and we shot back up north to La Flotte, a village we had seen on the way in. Our arrival coincided perfectly with the last hour of daylight, and after a walk on the boardwalk and a short visit to the nearby playground we found a place to eat dinner with a prime view of the setting sun. Then, with a belly full of salmon we took a moonlit stroll past the quay, in the atmosphere of twinkling lights and vacationers dining in the outdoor cafes. On our next visit we’ll have to find lodgings on the beach, or at least on the island…


  1. Such great pictures! It looks like you had an amazing weekend!

  2. Tide is often a moment of surprises! It provides lots of fun when full and many discoveries can be done when it's low. So nice you enjoyed the island!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...