Île de Ré, France

Last week I wrote about our visit to the beautiful seaside town of La Rochelle; click here to read that post. During our stay there, we took a short drive to Île de Ré, an island in the Atlantic accessible from the mainland by a 1.8 mile long bridge. The island, which is nineteen miles long and five miles wide, experienced a huge increase in tourism after the bridge was built in 1987. With its beautiful, soft, sandy beaches, quaint villages, miles and miles of vineyards, and great seafood, it is considered the French version of the Hamptons.

There are ten villages on the island including two that have the designation of being Les Plus Beaux Villages de France; Ars-en-Ré and La Flotte. We have visited at least a dozen of these villages in our travels around France; you can read those posts here. Saint-Martin-de-Ré is the largest village on the island, and is a pretty place to wander. We stopped here for lunch and did a little shopping.

Phare des Baleines (Lighthouse of the Whales) is one of several lighthouses on the island and is an interesting place to visit. It was named, sadly, because of the large number of beached whales found here years ago. Built in 1849, it is one of the oldest lighthouses in France and stands 196 feet (60 meters) tall. There is a park and museum in the area, as well as shops and restaurants. There is a small entrance fee to visit the museum and lighthouse; the link above has all the details.

The beach and gardens near the lighthouse are nice places to stroll.

L’Église Saint-Etienne in Ars-en-Ré is a lovely church that is a historical monument. Built in the 15th century, sailors used the bell tower as a landmark.

La Flotte is a pretty harbor town with an attractive port. Here you’ll find buildings with green or blue shutters on whitewashed buildings, narrow streets and alleys, a nice beach, lighthouse, shops and restaurants.

There are acres and acres of vineyards on the island producing many different varieties including, chardonnay, cabernet, colombard, cabernet franc, and sparkling wines. With over 1400 acres of vineyards, you’ll see them everywhere you go. Click here to learn more about wine tasting on the island.

There are many other activities on the island including miles and miles of bike paths. The highest point of elevation is just 66 feet, making it a great place to bicycle. In fact, many of the residents rely on biking as their primary means of transportation.

Summer is the busiest time of year on the island and draws tens of thousands of tourists. By visiting in late April, we enjoyed the pleasant weather without the crowds.

What do you think of Île de Ré? We enjoyed our time on the island, but I would like to return for some better photo opportunities.

Wishing you grand adventures,


24 thoughts on “Île de Ré, France

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  1. I haven’t visited Île de Ré, but I remember when the bridge was about to open. An impact was anticipated, but the reality turned out to be more than predicted. Initially, many islanders wanted the bridge closed or traffic reduced, but gradually, people got used to the changes. It is so beautiful and your pictures lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting insight; I have no memory of that, but I wasn’t too attentive to the going’s on in France at that point in my life. I can see why the islanders wanted to reduce incoming traffic. But, like most changes, they’re eventually accepted, even reluctantly. Thanks Lynette, for stopping by.

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  2. I’ve heard of île de Ré, but never went there– given that it has some of the plus beaux villages de France, I’m very keen on going! One of these days, if I’m ever back in the Bordeaux/Nouvelle Aquitaine region, I’ll have to make a stop over! Looks like you had a wonderful time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad I found your blog – your photos are fantastique! How cool you are living in France. We visit often but can’t imagine expat life – although we’ve talked about it. We will be in La Rochelle in June. Have you been to Rochefort or Saintes? Also very cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed them. Sometimes I wonder what the heck we were thinking when we decided to move here; but we’ll return to the US at some point. I hope you enjoy your time in France. Thanks for your comment!

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  4. Oh, you’re right Tricia, Île de Ré is indeed a beautiful place! The lighthouse, lovely shutters and vineyards (which mean good wines) … what’s not to love. Oh, I forgot to mention the good weather and no crowds 😉.


  5. It astounds me that every French village, no matter its size, has a pretty — if not stunning — church. They add so much to the beauty of France.

    Liked by 1 person

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