L’ile de Ré is a great place to come with children. It’s very difficult to drive on the island, yet happily it’s an excellent place to cycle with purpose-built cycle paths running all over the island. So number one we’d recommend renting bikes. With many cycle rental shops (who all cater for families) to rent your vacation bikes, getting around is both fun and damn good outdoor exercise for everyone! We’d also highly recommend renting a gite or apartment. Beside the benefit of additional space, L’ile de Ré is a great place to develop your culinary skills! There are great fresh food markets, fishmongers and butchers as well as many supermarkets. We’ve enjoyed many more great meals eating in than in restaurants!
Other than that, I’d just say Explore – there is so much to do and see on the island
PLAY on ILE DE RE
Our children love sitting on the trailer at the back of our bikes as we race around exploring the island. We usually go to the long white sand beach at Bois Plage to relax while they build sand castles. In the town of La Flotte activities for children were available all Summer. We enrolled our children and their cousins in a Sand Castle competition. It was so funny as most parents were enjoying the process even more than their children!
As we stay in the town of La Flotte, we can walk for 5 minutes to the centre where you find ice cream shops at every corner. We stop at La Martinière and order an ice cream à la fleur de sel (local delicacy). Opposite is the merry-go-round and 100 meters away the playground.
We love to cycle to the town of Saint Martin, say hello to the donkeys wearing pantaloons, go for an ice cream on the port and for a tour of the carousel in the little fair ground. We love going to this particular carousel as it is very beautiful and the guy in charge plays good music, offers free wifi (a clever bonus for the parents!) and is very funny.
If the weather is poor (and you don’t fancy a windswept walk along the beach!) then you can always head to La Rochelle and visit the town or the excellent Aquarium. It only takes 15mins to get there (from La Flotte) so it’s an easy last minute decision. Although be warned – crossing the bridge back to Ile de Re will cost around €16.
EAT in ILE DE RE
Our favorite restaurant with the family and children is Les Pieds dans L’eau. The produce is so fresh and the crèpes are the favourite dish for the children.
La Baleine Bleue in Saint Martin. Lovely food and great view of the port. Just a little expensive. Great for a romantique dinner.
For ice cream: La Martinière in La Flotte and Saint Martin de Ré. The choice for flavours is immense (20 different kind of sorbets and 33 different flavours for ice cream!). They also do delicious gauffres et crèpes (In Saint Martin). I also love the packaging and the design of their shop. A real pleasure for the eyes and the mouth!
SLEEP in ILE de RE
La Maison Douce in Saint Martin. Beautiful French chic interior filled with vintage finds.
Our friends stayed with their 2 young children in the Hotel Sénéchal in Ars en Ré. They really enjoyed their stay as it is very relaxed, right in the centre of Ars and they also have a swimming pool.
For a budget stay with the family, I would recommend L’Hippocampe in La Flotte.
As I mentioned above, if you are going to spend a week on the island I really advice you rent a villa with a pool as it’s the best way to relax with your family and friends. There are a wide range of houses to rent on the island. Just book in advance.
The island is at its best during April until November. I would avoid going during the Summer months as it gets really busy over July and August (it’s a favourite with Parisians!).
SHOP in ILE de RE
There is not a lot of shopping to be done on the island, although there are a few nice boutique shops in both St Martin and Ars en Re. Funny as it sounds, the best thing that you can buy on the island is salt! L’ile de Re is famous for its salt flats (another great thing to go and see) and the rock salt (Fleur de Sel) is absolutely amazing. A great reminder of your trip every time you sit down to eat.
– Choose a gite/villa/apartment over a hotel rental.
– Hire bikes. It’s the perfect way to get around.
– Try the fresh produce in the markets
– Have an ice cream a day. It’s soooo good.
The best place to find Famille Summerbelle online is at their e-store www.famillesummerbelle.com. Or there are stockists in most major cities around the world. Send them an email so they can direct you to your nearest boutique.