île de Re, always in season!

Île de Ré is France’s favourite holiday island – a 30km-long flat strip of land with photogenic villages, old ports and sandy beaches – is small enough to cycle round, or to explore on horseback. Long the holiday haven of affluent Parisiens, this dreamy, golden hued island can be found a half-hour drive from La Rochelle. Perfect if you’re looking to rediscover life’s simple pleasures.

CYCLING The island has been cunningly criss-crossed with cycling paths and most of the roads are quiet. Hire bikes and glide between the harbours and beaches, past vineyards and old forts, ruined abbeys, and down lanes toppling with roses, honeysuckle and bright hollyhocks.

There are several bike rental outlets in Saint Martin, all with similar prices. Get a cycle map from the tourist information centre in Saint Martin and pedal out through the fortifications towards Le Bois Plage on the south coast, a cheerful little town with a lively atmosphere and the best all-purpose beach on the island.

Wander through Le Bois Plage’s vast morning market, with stalls selling everything from beach bags and espadrilles to cooking pots and china. There’s also a superb indoor food market.

Cycle down to the beach at Plage des Gollandières. Set up camp here for a couple of hours, or, if you don’t like sand in your baguette, have lunch at l’Océan, a stylish hotel in Le Bois Plage, with a good fish restaurant.

Follow cycle paths among salt pans, fields and marshes towards Loix and the north coast. For holiday cyclists, it’s a long haul to Loix itself, so turn right when you reach the north coast, and follow the coast, past oyster beds and salt marshes, back to Saint Martin.

SWIMMING The island has beautiful sandy beaches, with super-calm, super-blue water. Visit La Flotte, on the south-east coast and Conche des Baleines, on the north-west coast.

WALKING To the east of the harbour at Saint Martin, you can walk along the almost perfectly preserved fortifications, redesigned by Vauban in the late 17th century, to the citadel, long used as a prison.

There is also fishing, horseriding, sailing, kitesurfing, boat trips, and there are two golf courses on the island.

Shopping

MARKETS An authentic atmosphere not to be missed! Of course, the market is the place to do your shopping, but also to stroll around the coloured stalls, to meet people, and to have a drink in one of the cafés. You can buy local oysters and other shellfish, fish, salt, wines, fruit and vegetables, clothes, jewellery, homewares, beach items… it is possible to find real bargains here. The food market at La Flotte (off Rue de la Marché) is perhaps the best on the island. Buy tarts, fruit, cheese and pâté, plus bread from the excellent bakery.

Eating and drinking

Seafood and  fish are local specialities. Each year, on Île de Ré, oyster-farmers produce between 6,000 and 8,000 tons of oysters. For the peckish there’s: crêpes, pizzas, mussels and chips… and those who have a sweet tooth, will enjoy eating an ice-cream at any time of the day, stop at La Martinière on the quay at Saint Martin – then stroll around Saint Martin’s shops. You’ll find any amount of French seaside chic: antiques, homeware, paintings, as well as clothes ranging from hippy muslin to Max Mara.

Our favourite restaurants on Saint Martin are Le Bistrot du Marin for its laid back, charming atmosphere and sensational côte de bœuf. Head to Tout du Cru for simple, delicious seafood, Cote Jardin for fantastic service and a diverse menu that always surprises and Les Embruns for pricey but totally-worth-it seafood.

ÎLE DE RÉ WINES A perfect accompaniment to your holiday. The 650-ha vines were mainly planted in the south of the island, and now produce some 2 million bottles per year. Half of this surface area consists of black and white grape varieties – merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, négrette, chardonnay, sauvignon – and the other half consists of Ugni Blanc, a particular grape variety for Cognac production.

 

 

 

Guest Comments
Have been forced back down to earth today after our wonderful, wonderful stay at Galathee. I have never considered myself an envious/covetous kind of gal, (and I will be 60 next year.....), but I am now.....all down to Galathee and ...

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We just got back from France last night, after a wonderful stay at La Galathee. So wonderful that we have just booked another two weeks in June for next year! The house is utterly charming, so homely and ideally situated. ...

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We had a lovely stay at galathee, such a beautiful home, thank you so much for letting us stay, we had also never been to ile de re and we thought it was fantastic!

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We all thoroughly enjoyed our time at Galathee. The property is extremely comfortable and well equipped, and the location could not be better. We couldn't believe we could be so close to the centre of St Martin and yet be ...

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We had a great time - nothing but praise for the house and the location and Valerie was really welcoming and helpful. And fantastic food nearby!

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We felt tucked away and secluded whilst also being only a few minutes from everything we needed.The website doesn’t do justice to just how surprisingly spacious Galathee is. With four adults who like to spread out, we had plenty of ...

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Our holiday in Galathee was fabulous. The house is wonderfully pretty and welcoming and has a lovely atmosphere. We loved its proximity to the harbour and took many a stroll down to the water to sit and people-watch whilst eating ...

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We had a really enjoyable stay at Galathee. Thank you. You have created a beautiful, tranquil place. We will definitely come again and recommend to friends.

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We had a fabulous week staying at Galathée and fell in love with St Martin and having spent every year since moving here in 2008 holidaying in various parts of France, will return to the wonderful Ile de Ré.

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The house seemed to strike just the right balance between comfort and style, which I liked very much. I absolutely loved the outdoor area and that day bed is what I always dream of having in my garden. The location ...

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We had a really lovely time, thank you. Your home is beautiful, well equipped- Richard was extremely pleased with the knives in the kitchen ( sounds daft I know, but if you enjoy cooking the blunt knives in a self ...

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Just a quick email to say that this place is amazing ... It's sooo special. We love it!! A new bar has opened up - quite recently as we have never seen it before. The food is great and we ...

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We had a wonderful week.  We were lucky to have good weather, good company and some memorable meals. We have been to L'Ile de Re many times before and Galathee is the best rental property we have stayed at in ...

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I just wanted to say that Julian and I have a fabulous stay last week at Galathée. You have created a wonderful house - it’s just gorgeous and in such a great location and we really did not want to ...

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We had a lovely stay, thank you. The house is beautiful and you must be very proud of the work you have done there.

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