We’d been out on Île de Ré once before, back in 2014 when we were celebrating our honeymoon. In fact much of this years trip will mirror that holiday seven years ago, except for some of the less than superb accommodation we chose back then. I have indeed learned a lot over the years. We were quite lucky to get a place to stay on the island, it being the height of the aoûtienne and in a location that is very popular with French tourists. It was only a couple of weeks before we left that I learned about juillettistes and aoûtiens. It seems the French are split into two distinct camps. Those that prefer to take their summer holidays in July or August. Either way, Île de Ré was going to be packed. August was better for us to let the Covid-19 travel rules mature after their introduction in July. Not only that, it gave our destinations some time to cool down from the height of the summer sunshine.
We were able to find a reassuringly expensive place to stay in La Flotte. But it was close to everything we needed (beer, wine, dinner, breakfast) and most importantly, I could park the bike in a shady spot outside our room and leave it there untouched for a whole 48 hours.
Day two on Ré was ironically spent on two wheels, although of the self-powered variety for a change. Well, partially self-powered, they were e-bikes. Our cycling ambitions were helped along further by the island being almost completely flat. With picnic lunch packed and ready to go, we headed north to Saint-Martin-de-Ré where donkeys abounded. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the donkeys, there were none in brightly coloured stripy pyjamas this time. It’s a thing, I assure you. I haven’t taken leave of my senses.
Further north along the coast, stopping for a beachside lunch and onward past oyster farms and salt marshes until we reached Loix.
We didn’t spend a great deal of time in Loix. It was frantically busy, neither of us were hungry and there were more sights to see. So after a quick pitstop for more water, we were back on the
road cycle path to Ars-en-Ré. Ars is where we stayed last time we were here. Like pretty much everywhere except Saint-Martin, Ars is a smallish, quaint town with a port full of yachts. That only differs from Saint-Martin in that it’s immediately obvious there that the town itself and the yachts are much bigger. That and the hotels are eye-wateringly expensive.
Our journey back in the direction of home was full of vineyards and forests. Just the place to stop, enjoy some leftover picnic and take in the sights from a different perspective.
After all this lovely scenery came a small orienteering challenge, thanks to some confusing signage marking the direction back to La Flotte. We overcame the adversity and ended up back in time for wine. A rousing success even if I do say so myself.
What wasn’t so successful was that I’d somehow managed to spend the entire day in the sunshine whilst forgetting to put any sunscreen on my bare legs. But I’d only find this out tomorrow morning…