Across an enormous bridge from La Rochelle, lies a little slice of paradise in the form of Ile De Ré.
The 30k long island is famous for its salt, oyster beds and local wines. Salt harvesting is one of the natural treasures of the island, with large salt marches of various sizes located along the northern-eastern coastline. The unrefined salt crystals are preserved in clay ponds, and thanks to the sun and wind, can be harvested in the months of June and September. This fantastic light grey, almost light purple substance has gained great fame in the mainstream culinary world and is considered by many to be the best quality salt available.
Cycling is a perfect way to see the island, on dedicated paths that are as flat as a pancake, linking one picture-postcard village to another. En route to the south-western side, you will be welcomed with long sandy beaches, before arriving into storybook towns and villages along the northern edge of the Island.
The island boasts ten towns: Rivedoux-Plage, La Flotte-en-Ré, Saint-Martin-de-Ré, Sainte-Marie-de-Ré/La Noue, Le Bois-Plage, La Couarde-sur-Mer, Loix, Ars-en-Ré, Les Portes-en-Ré, and Saint-Clément-des-Baleines.
Saint-Martin-de-Re is the unofficial capital of the islands. With beautiful whitewashed buildings lining the narrow cobbled lanes, a bustling harbour, exquisite restaurants and whimsical galleries enchant the town. Food stalls and small markets offer everything from juicy green olives to spicy salami and fresh seafood.
Top Tip - Don’t forget to stop off for a photograph with the islands adorable woolly donkeys— best known for the silly culottes they wore in the days they pulled salt wagons.