One of the most beautiful, authentic beach vacations you
can find in France is a secret. It’s the Ile
de Ré , a magical little island off La Rochelle on
the Atlantic coast. Here you’ll find charming little
villages, broad sandy beaches, mild weather and friendly
locals. As this is a favored destination for the French,
but hardly discovered by other nationalities, you actually
need to speak French here!
Locals say that the Ile de Ré has a special micro-climate
(or “meekro cleeemah”). In summer it is
wonderfully warm, without the overbearing heat of the south. And
in spring and fall it remains pleasant. Ideal for enjoying
Just 20 miles long and only 3 miles across, this delightful
island has 10 villages. Until 1975 it was reachable only
by boat, and that has helped to shield the island from crass
commercial development. Even now with the bridge linking
the island to La Rochelle, the island has maintained its
local flavor. There are no billboards, no chain hotels,
no traffic jams and no high-rise buildings. The villages
and residences are all low-profile and allow visitors to
focus on the natural beauty of the landscape.
The island has pine forests, sand dunes, salt marshes and
vineyards. In the villages, all the buildings have
white washed walls that are accented by pink hollyhocks poking
their heads from every crack. It’s a treat to
wander through the narrow, cobblestoned streets. There are
two harbors on the island-- both filled with colorful fishing
Salt is a major industry here, and you can visit the marshes
to see salt being racked by hand. Vacationers explore
the lighthouse, the ruins of the old castle and the monastery. Each
village has its own special character and with its outdoor
The sea is, of course, a major attraction here. There
are swimming beaches galore, all with golden sand and calm
waters. The island is crisscrossed with paved trails
and everyone rents a bicycle to get around.
Our rentals are all in La Flotte, the village with a picturesque
harbor and an outdoor market that is open every day of the
year. In the evening, everyone strolls around the port
to enjoy the view. The village is pleasantly vibrant.
The food is wonderful on the island. There is a large
selection of restaurants specializing in seafood. Wine
from the Charente is a specialty. And it is easy to
purchase fresh fish from the market to prepare at home for
those who enjoy cooking.
The Ile de Ré is easy to get to. You can fly
into Paris and then take the high-speed train to La Rochelle,
a pleasant 3-hour trip. At La Rochelle you can rent
a car and simply drive across a bridge to this delightful
little island. Or, you can manage without a car. There
is convenient bus transportation from the rail station to
all the villages on the island. And once on the island,
our rentals are all within an easy walk to all facilities.
For more extensive excursions, you can rent a bike, take
a bus or a taxi.
So when you plan your next vacation, consider a village rental
on the prettiest “secret” island in France. But
plan early. July and August book early. However, spring
and fall are ideal times to enjoy this paradise, and
our rentals still have good availability.
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