Weekending in Il De Re

Weekending in Il De Re

Shortly after arriving in Saint Martin, the main capital on the tiny French Island of Il De Re, I noticed that the sky outside had transformed into the most incredible array of colours.

 The sun was setting rapidly so we paused our unpacking and quickly followed the horizon to the point where land met sea, a short stroll from the apartment.

 

A storm was brewing and the sight was just magnificent, I promise that there is no filter on these pictures and in real life the colours were even more vivid.

A vast expanse of glowing pink sky hung above the motionless sea, it was eerily silent apart from the odd bird cry and the distant rumble of thunder

The rumbles grew ever closer and were soon followed by flashes of lightening, dancing across the heavens.

There was magic in the air and we felt incredibly lucky to have witnessed such a beautiful sight, what a welcome!

In that moment I was convinced that this little island was about to make a big impression on us.

Over the next few days we cycled for miles, through meadows, vineyards, forests, past a lighthouse, a windmill and fields of wild flowers,  stopping only to explore a village or market or beach as it appeared in our path.

There are 9 main towns dotted around the Il De Re, to sight see you really need to hop on a bike as there is a limited bus service and barely any taxis at all.

We stayed Thursday to Sunday and we still didn't manage to see it all, which is fine by me as it gives us the perfect excuse to return.

In the mornings we ate pastries on Saint Martin harbour side as the boats clinked and bobbed about and the rising sun made way to a new day full of possibilities.

This was the market at La Flotte which we cycled into quite by accident. We had really good coffee at a little kiosk called Coffee n Co and stocked up on some delicacies for lunch.

There was such a friendly atmosphere here, the traders were welcoming and chatty and encouraged everyone to taste what was on offer

Packing comfortable shoes is a must, you can spend hours wandering the beautiful backstreets of Saint Martin De Re, which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and looks like a film set.

Each shuttered house as picture perfect as the next, an abundance of hollyhocks sprouting up along the cobbled lanes with every few steps taken.

If you climb the narrow old steps to the top of the bell tower in the church of Saint Martin you'll be rewarded with views over the rooftops of the town and out to sea.

Our foodie faves turned out to be those simplest in their offerings.

Bistrot Du Marin

Bistrot Du Marin

At Bistro Du Marin, we were fortunate enough to bag a table in a prime people watching spot over looking the harbour.

We ordered cote du boeuf for 2 from hand chalked blackboards and it arrived in all of its gluttonous glory accompanied with salad, fries and a good red wine. 

The meat was superb, charred and salty on the outside, pink inside.  

It could have easily fed 3, we had to finally admit defeat with zero room for desert.

Re Ostrea

Re Ostrea

Re Ostrea provided the perfect lunch destination on another of our days and as well as being the least expensive meal out, it was probably our favourite.

Re Ostrea

Re Ostrea

An oyster cabane where you can pull up a coloured chair at a reclaimed tree trunk table over looking the beach and order some of the freshest seafood you will have ever tasted.

All dishes come with bread and butter and complimentary glass of ice cold muscat.

Don't even think about leaving the island without sampling some of the famous sorbets or ice cream from La Martiniere on the harbour front in Saint Martin.

With over 250 varieties to choose from I opted for salted caramel and milk chocolate ice cream, both were divine.

You can also visit the atelier for ice cream macaroons and frozen pastries.

Saint Martin is enclosed by historic fortifications and just inside one of the gateways through the old city walls we discovered an unexpected concept store, Magasin De La Republique, stunningly curated with all kinds of interesting antiques, furniture, homewares, textiles, clothing and accessories.

You can stop for a coffee as you browse and dont miss the spiral staircases on either side of the gorgeous old building leading up to a couple of mezanine floors beneath the old wooden beams.

 

GETTING THERE:

Easyjet fly from London Gatwick direct to La Rochelle, flight time 1 hour 35 mins.

From the airport you can take the number 7 bus to Place De Verdun and then change to Le Mouettes bus which takes you over the connecting bridge and drops off at a number of destinations including Saint Martin De Re harbour.

In Peak season July/August, Le Mouettes runs directly from the airport which makes for an even simpler journey.

Taxi from the airport to the island is from around 60 euros.


STAY:

We stayed In this air bnb apartment with use of a shared pool and 2 bicycles.

It was simple but the perfect base for our stay, conveniently located, practical and great value.


EAT/DRINK:

Bistrot Du Marin, (for steak) 10 Quai Nicolas Baudin, 17410 Saint-Martin-de-Ré, France.

No Reservations

 

Re Ostrea, (for seafood) The Vert Clos, 17410 Saint Martin de Ré, France.

degustationhuitres-iledere.fr

 

La Martiniere, (for ice-cream) 17 quay of La Poithevinière, 17 410 Saint Martin de Ré.

Open every day from 10.30-21.30 (23.00 in July/August)

L'Atelier De Saint Martin, (for frozen pastries) 12 rue de Sully, 17 410 St Martin de Re. Open daily from 10.30am to 1pm and from 2.30pm to 7.30pm (10pm in July/August)

la-martiniere.fr


SHOP:

Magasin De La Republique, 30 Rue Aristide Briand, 17410 Saint Martin De Re, France