Ré Island: where Parisians hide
The quintessence of French refinement is concentrated on an Atlantic island: 150 square kilometers of marshmallows, colorful shutters, some Romanesque remains, terraces with wooden tables and pirate-tale lighthouses guarding a rough sea.
The island of Ré is the summer resort of Parisian high society and many of its celebrities (Gerard Depardieu, Jean Reno or Juliette Binoche have their holiday home here). Rest, eat very fresh oysters, buy in your antique shops and do sports are the plans to (not) schedule here. Getting there is simple (it is connected to La Rochelle by a 3-kilometer bridge); abandon her, not so much.
With over 20 years of history, the Baleine Bleue It remains an inescapable. It is for its super French cuisine with renewed air, but also for its terrace, in front of the port, from where you can see some good sunsets. They offer 'formula' menus from 18 to 38 euros. Among the entrees: oysters, smoked salmon with salt from the island's salt flats, duck of the Landes or foie gras; and as main: cod on the back on pear, white beans with chorizo or duck magret. From Thursday to Saturday (and until two in the morning!) They open a bar for cocktails.
Baleine Bleue: an inescapable restaurant © Baleine Bleue
With departure in Sablanceaux and arrival in Sainte Marie, passing through the village of La Flottey the fort of the Prée (made by Vauban in the seventeenth century), the remains of the abbey of the Châteliers (Cistercian monastery of the twelfth century) and the forts of Saint-Martin ..., this is one of the routes that can be done by bicycle through the more than 100 kilometers of cycling tracks on the island. Everything is easy to sign up for pedaling: Ré is very flat, so the itineraries are suitable for all audiences; short distances (the island only measures 30 km) and there is the option of returning by bus from almost anywhere.
The Abbey of the Châteliers, a basic classic © Corbis
One cannot leave Saint-Martin de Ré without trying the rich artisanal ice creams of La Martiniere (Ile de Ré, 17). Appetizing cookies, delicate macarons and frozen skewers also dazzle in their display cases.
Opened in 2011, the Villa Clarisse boutique hotel (HD: 175 euros), is the last property of Relais & Chateaux on the island, in the historic center of Saint-Martin de Ré. They are nine rooms (5 of them suites) white and bright in a historic building of the eighteenth century - period furniture, fireplace, giant bathrooms and views of the harbor - they cry out for a night of jumble of sheets (linen). Breakfast and some snacks are served in the hotel cafe, but for more formal dinners you have to go to the restaurant the Table d'Olivia, in the hotel of Toiras, also of the same chain, in the port (menu from 70 euros). It has a small boutique spa and heated pool.
The Villa Clarisse boutique hotel, giant bathrooms and harbor views © Villa Clarisse