Ile de Re - Exploring by bike
I have written in the past about this beautiful island of paradise. It is truly a place to get away from it all, a place to take in the fresh-sea air and rejuvenate one's soul. An island that offers nature, freshness and beauty. Yes, in the summer, it's crowded with tourists - I wrote about this island a few years back - having spent a week in August - discovering it's various hidden gems. It was obvious that in the summer, the only way to truly enjoy and explore this island paradise is by bicycle. The single lane roads are packed with cars, tourists entering on and off the island. But the main roads truly just give a glimpse to the charm that is hidden on the bike paths, and small alleys of the many villages of this island.
Last Spring, I had the opportunity to introduce this beautiful island to a very dear friend of mine who was visiting from the States. We decided to spend a couple days there in June and I was determined to show her the special side of this island - exploring it by bike
We arrived on a Monday early afternoon after driving from Bordeaux. We immediately drove out to Saint Clements des Baleines to rent our bikes. We chose e-bikes for this adventure as we only had Monday afternoon & Tuesday morning to explore and I wanted to show her as much as possible.
This was my first time using electric assisted bikes and it was amazing!!! The ease of pedaling, the amount of kilometers we could cover in a short amount of time - made the choice a perfect one for us. After adjusting the bikes (from bike maker - Velo de Ville) and consulting the map, we headed east toward the town of Ars en Re. Passing through the lovely village center, past the lovely church - Saint Etienne - with it's unique bell tower - painted white & black. The bike paths are well marked and for the most part are separate to the main roads except when passing through the villages.
The well-known local product of Ile de Re is the sea salt. Many of the bike paths weave through and passed these natural marshes. The salt and associated products are wonderful and delicious. It's one of my favorite salts - all natural and fresh.
After making a stop at Les Salicorniers to buy some salt, we headed to the North part of the island - toward the village of Loix and it's port. This quaint charming village of pristine white buildings is so charming its like you have entered another time and place. We took a break in the village center to have a drink, enjoyed the village square and just relaxed. The charm of this island continued to rub off on me.
As we headed to our rental house for the evening in Le Bois Plage en Re - we continued to enjoy the changing scenery - from salt marshes to vineyards. In fact, Il de Re is part of the Cognac appellations and grows grapes for the Cognac makers.
One of our final stops before arriving at our house was to see the ocean beach - We had passed by La Couarde sur Mer - the narrowest part of the island and enjoyed the view but as many dikes have been built there to protect this part of the island from erosion, it lacks a bit of the pure natural beauty - the endless natural beach. But at Le Bois Plage en Re - the ocean is blue, the sand is soft and the ocean breeze will lift anyone's spirit!Velo de Ville had truly been amazing. In about 3 hours - we had started on the West side of Ile de Re and leisurely ridden east through some of my favorite charming villages and island countrysides. The wonderful benefit of this type of bike, was being truly impressed by the amount of distance we had ridden yet, we felt like we hadn't worked out at all. The bike was very comfortable & easy riding. It allowed us to enjoy the charm and nature of this beautiful island without feeling too tired.
Even though, we had covered a lot of distance, there was so much more, I wanted to show my friend. We headed to St Martin en Re to enjoy dinner. This stunning port town - is always a delightful combination of an oasis of beauty & life combined into a seaside resort.
La Martiniere is THE place for ice cream - this well-know ice cream/gelato shop is known throughout the island and if you talk to anyone who knows ile de Re - they will tell you that having ice cream there is a must!! It is so worth it - some of the best I have ever had and the choices of flavors - incredible! In the summer, there are lines to enjoy it but as we were here on a weekday in June, we could enjoy it without the crowds.
We then headed to La Phare des Baleines (lighthouse) - to watch the sunset. This is an experience not to miss. No words can truly describe the relaxed feeling as one sits out on this beach and watches the light of the sun sink into the distant horizon - the colors, the sea air and the beach itself - penetrates your body allowing relaxation and peace to wash all over you.
The next day - we headed out again on the bikes - again, we had about 3-4 hours to continue to explore. We were impressed that we felt great and energized with no soreness from the previous day. A sign of an excellent bike design!
The salt marshes, depending on the tides are either full of water, or leaving the salt behind to be raked for production. The fresh smell of the salt air penetrates your senses further sharing this relaxing ocean paradise with you.
In early June, especially during the week, the island is still quiet but flowers are blooming and depending on the weather - it's warm but not too hot - and when the sun shines - it shows me time and time again why I love returning and showing it off to my friends and family.
If you are interested in renting bikes on ile de Re - I recommend -CycLand - They have several locations throughout the island - We rented from the CycLand store in Saint Clement des Balienes - 152 Rue du Ctre, 17590 Saint-Clément-des-Baleines. We adored our electric bikes from Velo de Ville - comfortable and easy to use! I am sharing these sites as we had a wonderful experience with renting and the quality of the rental bikes was top!!