For those of you that follow us over on Instagram you'll know that we recently had a little road trip to France. It was a much needed break after a pretty hectic wedding season and a chance to taste some fabulous regional French cooking.
First up was a trip to the Georges Larnicol shop in Roscoff for a box of Kouign Anamm, pronounced "Queen-a-man" but more on that in another blog. After an overnight stay in La Baule we headed off to one of my most favourite places, The Ile de Re. I just love this place! As soon as I get over the bridge all stress just seems to disappear.
Situated just off the coast at La Rochelle you get to the island over a huge road bridge and once there the roads are simple to navigate. The airport at La Rochelle is five minutes from the bridge so transfer times are only about fifteen minutes. Here are a few of pictures of St Martin de Re.
It really does seem to be one of those places that isn't on the British "holiday radar". Don't get me wrong, the island gets a lot of visitors but they tend to be mostly French so you don't get the sort of eateries aimed at the English. One of my favourite places to eat is Bistrot du Marin which is right on the quay. You can't book and sometimes have to wait for a table but we've never waited more than half an hour and that was in August. It's down to earth and basic bistro cooking but has such a good atmosphere, is perfect for a bit of people watching, and does a mean Cote de Boeuf. Other places worth a visit are L'Insolite http://linsolite-iledere.fr which is also great to just have a drink if they have room, Cote Jardin https://www.restocotejardin.fr/soft-chaud.html and if you feel like splashing out then the Hotel Toiras https://hotel-de-toiras.com/en/
One of the best ways to get around the island is by bicycle and there is certainly no shortage of bike hire places on the island. Head off on the coast path out of St Martin and you'll soon come across one of the many oyster shacks that line the coastline. The oyster tanks are right there next to you and even if you are not a fan it's worth stopping for a cheeky Muscadet or two!
This time round we took a trip to the most Northern part of the island and the lighthouse, the Phare des Baleines, one of the highest lighthouses in France. Sadly, the name means Lighhouse of the Whales, and refers to the many whales that have been beached in the area. It's worth climbing to the top of the lighthouse to get these spectacular views:
So, after a morning climbing lighthouses it was off to the market to get some provisions. We stopped at Le Bois Plage which has a fantastic market bursting with local produce (but do get there before midday as everything starts packing up then). If you fancy a coffee break then I can recommend Mangez-Moi https://www.mangezmoi-iledere.com which also does some great takeout food, perfect for a picnic on the beach.
Back in St Martin de Re and I decided that we hadn't quite climbed up enough stairs yet and so took a trip up the church tower. Not for the feint hearted, or the very large, as it does get quite narrow at the top and there's an ancient set of wooden steps on the final leg. But yet again the views are pretty special. NB I should add that my partner Robin is both quite large and feint hearted (at least where heights are concerned) but did manage to get to the top of both the lighhouse and the church. Though he didnt go near the edge at any point!!!
All that climbing had given us both an appetite and so after a quick change it was off for a pre dinner drink before deciding where to eat. We couldnt believe how amazing the weather was for late October and without the crowds it was much easier to get around than in the height of the season. There are a few of the restaurants that pack up for the winter early but still a great choice of places to eat and drink and on the whole a good time to go and explore this beautiful island.
But SSSHHH, don't tell everyone about it! x