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Discovering Ile de Ré


A 2 or 3-day weekend on the chic Ile de Ré in a customised van from our rental agencies in Nantes or Bordeaux is the perfect way to discover this unspoiled, mythic destination. An ideal place to recharge and switch off, there are lots of bicycle paths that criss-cross the island and fabulous walking trails that meander through the surprisingly varied landscape.

Sounds good? Contact your agent who will give you plenty of tips on where to park for the night and what to do during the day throughout your island road trip.

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Jour 1 – Visit of the North of the island – Ars en Ré, Lizay forest and beach of the conche des baleines, lighthouse of the whales…

This first loop can be done by bike, starting from Ars. Count on 20-25 kms, taking into account that you will inevitably stroll through the superb villages and the beautiful Lizay forest that you will cross. L’Ars, with its central location, is a good place for this first night.

Start your visit in the village of L’Ars, with its church (Saint Étienne) whose black and white spire can be seen from afar on the northern side of the island. A village that is both chic and simple, plant and sea… so many paradoxes that give it a crazy, authentic charm.
On leaving the village, take the direction of Saint Clément and turn right after 3kms to cross the nature reserve of Lilleau-des-Niges by bike or on foot, where you will discover two environments inhabited by numerous species of birds: old salt marshes surrounded by grassy “humps”, and on the sea side a succession of salt meadows and natural mud flats, covered at high tide. The Maison du Fier, at its end, houses an eco-museum dedicated to the island’s natural heritage.
If a walk to the eastern tip of Les Portes en Ré, with the Trousse-chemise forest and the Patache anchorage, is worth the diversions, it is the western part, with the Lizay forest and the superb Conche beach, that will remain in your memories. Simply superb landscapes
Continue to Saint Clément des Baleines, and its lighthouse, sentinel posted at the end of the island. A panorama not to be missed from the top of the lighthouse!

Several possibilities for the night:

Those who prefer the wilderness will opt for one of the many paths that end at the ocean (e.g. the Pointe de Grignon road)
The others will go straight to one of the local campsites, the Essi campsite for example, very well placed!

Jour 2 – Visit of the centre of the island – Presqu’île de Loix, route des marais and plage du Grouin. Evening in Saint Martin de Ré…

This second cycle tour, also in a loop, takes you to the heart of the marshes and lets you discover the Loix peninsula, a real island within the island, which has managed to stay away from tourist development.

You can leave from the port of Goisil:

Head west to the intersection of the cycle tracks, then turn right towards Loix (north) to cross the marsh road to the Moulin du Passage (17th century tidal mill), the most beautiful on the island.
From the mill, continue towards Loix and the Pointe de Grouin. The beach of the same name, one of the quietest on the island
From Loix, follow the track towards the West, which passes by the salt marsh eco-museum. This small living museum retraces the history of salt, which made the island’s fortune
Return through the marshes in a southerly direction, then at the intersection turn left to return to Le Goisil.

For your evening, we suggest a very nice walk in the “capital of the island”, Saint Martin de Ré. Here you can admire the imposing star-shaped city walls and the lively centre (very busy in summer) with its many bars, restaurants and shops. Our best bet for excellent seafood is Le Tout du Cru, an oyster bar and seafood restaurant in the centre. A bit of a daring name, but dare you!

Several possibilities for the night:

We tested, out of season, the Citadelle beach car park. Just a stone’s throw from Saint Martin, quiet, and very pretty! But don’t repeat it…
Best proposal from our partner Park4Night: free parking – 3 Route de la Couarde.
For those who prefer camping, the municipal campsite – 1-9 Rue du Rempart.

Jour 3 – Visit to La Rochelle, and back…

Impossible not to finish with a visit of La Rochelle, with its famous towers, its old port, and its medieval streets. Not forgetting its aquarium, one of the most beautiful in Europe (we preferred it to those in Barcelona, Valencia…).

The old port district: of course, you can’t miss a stroll around the Saint Nicolas and Lantern towers, on the Duperré quay. Once again, the aquarium is well worth a visit….
The Saint Nicolas district: wedged between the port and the Maubec canal, this islet is full of charm and fantasy. Stroll along its main street, rue Saint Nicolas (pedestrian street), with its nice shops and restaurants.
The historic centre, north of the old port, is bounded by the medieval fortifications. The area around the town hall, the market (especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays) and the rue des Merciers (the oldest shopping street in the town) are not to be missed.

Marshes with an abundance of wildlife, forests, beaches, flowery villages and ports: you can only be amazed by this jewel of the Charente-Maritime on the Atlantic coast, with its mild climate all year round! Don’t hesitate to extend your pleasure to 3 or 4 days, to have time to stroll, and to visit La Rochelle and, for young and old, its superb aquarium.