France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   What to See & Do in Île-de-Ré, France
Bicycling, horse-riding, swimming and sunning are favorite activities, as is just wandering through the island's ten villages.




The quintessential Île-de-Ré getaway is like this: you find your way to neighboring La Rochelle by plane, train, bus, car or bike, then across the toll bridge to the island. More...

You settle in at your Île-de-Ré hotel or B&B, put on your beach togs, put on sunblock, fill your water bottle, mount your bicycle and ride out for a day of relaxation, perhaps a few sets of tennis, some surfing, sailing, horse-riding or even cricket.

In the evening you stroll around your adopted village, sit in a café with a sea view, order a glass of wine, down a dozen local oysters, savor a dinner of day-fresh seafood, and wonder how you'll ever tear yourself away when the time comes to depart.

Ten Villages

Of the ten villages on Île-de-Ré, Saint-Martin-de-Ré is perhaps the most popular for visits because of its bustling old-fashioned harbor, its Vauban-designed fortress, and the views from the bell tower of its church.

  Steeple of Église Saint-Étienne d'Ars-en-Ré, Île-de-Ré, France

Distinctive steeple, St-Étienne church, Ars-en-Ré.

Ars-en-Ré, a charming village that's also a popular stop on bike rides, has a morning foods-and-crafts market and the curious Église Saint-Étienne d'Ars-en-Ré with its steeple painted black-and-white to serve as a landmark for mariners.

The village of La Flotte-en-Ré has a daily food market that is great for shopping, window-shopping and photography. Because of the abundance of fresh ingredients, the restaurants by the harbor are fine for lunch or dinner.

At La Couarde-sur-Mer you can see the human-built oyster beds in which the island's choice oysters grow and sample them at lunch or dinner.

Le Phare des Baleines and its surrounding hamlet at the far tip of the island are the place most bicyclists aim for, taking a break for a picnic, an ice cream cone, and a gaze out to sea.

At La Flotte, stop for a look at the ruins of the Chateliers, a Cistercian Abbey that flourished from 1152 to 1575.


The island boasts a 100-km (62-mile) network of bicycle paths, and the highest point on the island is only 20 meters (66 feet) above sea level, so hills are not a problem.

Bicycling is one of the prime reasons that people come to Île-de-Ré, and given the island's narrow roads, intense summer vehicular traffic and restricted (and expensive) parking, biking is really the most enjoyable and efficient way to get around. Here's more on bicycling in France.

Île-de-Ré Hotels & Flats

Île-de-Ré Transport

About Île-de-Ré

Tourist Information

About La Rochelle

La Rochelle Transport

Poitou-Charente Transport

Poitou-Charentes Region


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Phare des Baleines, Île-de-Ré, France

Le Phare des Baleines, historic lighthouse at the tip of Île-de-Ré: a favorite bicycling goal.

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