Are you looking for insider tips on the west coast of France? Then you are right with the Île de Ré. Covering an area of 85 square kilometers, this beautifully formed island in the Atlantic Ocean offers you everything your heart desires. White sandy beaches, white house facades – everything seems to shine brighter on “Ré la Blanche”, France’s white island, than elsewhere. And this is exactly why this small island in the Atlantic Ocean is the perfect destination for late summer. Get an extra portion of sun in September before the long winter comes.
Best travel time for France’s west coast
What can I say, the Corona year 2020 shattered travel dreams – as did ours. South Africa in October became the South of France in September, and our employers agreed to move our annual vacation four weeks forward.
We thus benefited from the off-season, which begins in the southwest of France on September 15. Fewer tourists, which also means less risk of being infected with Corona. Nevertheless, we still had a few really good days on the beach where the thermometer climbed to almost 30 degrees Celsius.
And even if the occasional shower came from the sea and wet the coast, it was very pleasant not to have to endure crowded beaches, bike paths, restaurants. Another advantage was the contrasts. At the beginning of autumn – the best time for outdoor enthusiasts in France – they conjure up beautiful photo moments. This is especially true when there are a few puffy clouds over the country.
The weather in September on the Île de Ré summarized: high summer temperatures and beach weather until well after the middle of the month. Sometimes cloudy and rarely showers. Rain showers are plentiful all over the world by the sea – perfect for two lengths of coffee and a vegan cookie at the Moea café boutique in Saint Martin de Ré.
The Île de Ré where is it and how do I get there?
I must admit that until my trip to the Île de Ré, I had not heard anything about the island. Where it lies, I could not have answered that. Maybe because German tourists rather prefer the neighboring island. But there is no concrete reason why the Île d’Oléron is more popular with them.
If you have ever heard of the adventure game show Fort Boyard and the fight for the well-kept gold treasure off France’s Atlantic coast, then you have almost located the Ile de Re. The Napoleonic sea fortress from the 19th century is located exactly between the Ile de Re and the Île d’Oléron.
The French themselves call the region Sud Ouest. Although the Île de Ré lies in the northern part of the Biscay, it clearly belongs to the south of France. Draw with your finger a diagonal line from Paris to the city of Nantes at the mouth of the Loire. Then go down vertically and you will meet the white island in the Atlantic Ocean. The next bigger cities are La Rochelle and Rochefort (exactly the ones with the delicious cheese). Bordeaux is about 200 kilometers away.
Since 1988 the 2.9 kilometer long toll bridge Pont de l’île de Ré connects the island with the mainland. It reaches the island at the “Pointe de Sablanceaux”, the easternmost point of the island. To get to the toll station, you take the N 237 bypass and take a bend north around La Rochelle.
The amount of the toll depends on the number of tourists visiting the island: The more tourists want to visit the island, the more expensive the toll will be. We paid 8 euros in mid-September. You wonder if it is possible to fly to the Île de Ré? Of course – the airport La Rochelle – île de Ré is for example approached from Frankfurt am Main.
First impressions of Ré la Blanche
With Rivedoux La Plage, we leave aside the areas of the island that are also overflowing with day tourism, and we gradually immerse ourselves in a secluded island world, where landscapes, the experience of nature, cultivation, harvesting and old handicraft traditions are all important. Immediately we are struck: Scenically, the island reminds us very much of the South of France. Palm trees in the gardens, fig trees, pretty houses with white planted walls, hustle and bustle and joie de vivre – all this makes the heart beat faster and makes us look forward to the next three weeks full of anticipation.
At Le Martray we pass the narrowest part of the island and reach the rear part of the approximately 30 kilometer long Île de Ré. Here the horizon opens up – less settlement and the large bird sanctuary Réserve naturelle de Lilleau des Niges contribute to this. The winds become rougher, and the island extends even further into the open sea. With bamboo bushes as high as a diving tower in an open-air swimming pool, the wine must be protected, but the gnarled trunk is also robust and defies the weather.
Camping Le Phare
Our accommodation is located at the camping Le Phare. It is one of dozens of campsites on the Île de Ré. Camping is the means of choice in France when it comes to overnight stays. Camping Le Phare also relies on the glamping concept. Glamping = glamourous camping. Only a few areas of the huge 4-star campsite are still reserved for the classic tents and bullis. A large area consists of the mobile homes typical for France. To call them glamourous would be a bit exaggerated – the bottom line is that they are tiny houses with a terrace, fully equipped from gas stove to rotary clothes dryer.
If you really want to practice glamping, you pay from 1,000 euros for two people for the week and in return you get a little more space and “style” – a color scheme inside and a beautiful garden outside.
The communal outdoor areas are also really nice. There is a restaurant and a bar, which both form a very nice chill area. Through a northern exit you get to the beach Plage du Gros Jonc and through the southern exit to the Plage de la Loge.
The west coast of France – Sunsetspot par excellence
The location of the campsite on the Île de Ré, which extends far into the sea, is perfect: in the morning you go to the Plage de la Loge and admire the sunrise. In the evening you go for a quarter of an hour to the lighthouse of the whales, Phare des Baleines. There you can watch how the sun goes to the Coucher de Soleil – to sleep. The most beautiful evenings this year we experienced at the Whale Lighthouse.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
👍 More information on Île de Ré: Destination Ile de Ré | Official Website of the Tourist Office (holidays-iledere.co.uk).