A packed schedule of walks and natural discoveries
Last summer, we decided to go on a family holiday on Île de Ré to enjoy the beaches, tranquil setting, unspoilt nature and pleasant bike trips together.
We’d been advised to base ourselves at the seaside resort of Bois-Plage-en-Ré, on an excellent campsite that has the huge advantage of being located 30 metres from one of the island’s prettiest beaches – perfect for all the lounging around we’d planned for our holiday on Île de Ré!
DAY 1: Meeting the island’s birds
On the first day of our holiday on Île de Ré, we decided to bike to the Lilleau des Niges Nature Reserve at the very west of the island to do a bit of bird watching. Île de Ré is an important stop on the birds’ migratory routes and is thought to welcome around 350 species! Equipped with our binoculars, we enjoyed the opportunity to spot some gorgeous Montagu’s harriers and a few white storks.
We then went the Maison du Fier, a highly entertaining museum located in a former salt storehouse. The kids loved it and we became experts on the island’s biodiversity!
DAY 2: Île de Ré with RandoJeu
The second day of our family nature holiday was dedicated to a fantastic activity that I thought would be good for discovering Île de Ré with my little tribe: RandoJeu’s discovery trails. These trails let you have fun while exploring well-known sites (plus a few secret ones!). We chose two of the eleven available, Saint-Martin-de-Ré and Bois-Plage. Our little visit to Saint-Martin-de-Ré also allowed us to stop by the unmissable La Martinière in the harbour, where we finally got to taste their famous ice creams – we weren’t disappointed!
DAY 3: Donkeys in trousers in Saint-Martin
When we go on holiday as a family, we always try to discover local traditions, as well as exploring nature. So that day we’d made a date to pet the donkeys in trousers – icons of the island – in Barbette Park, Saint-Martin-de-Ré,. These donkeys (which were specifically Poitou donkeys, an ancient breed) were truly adorable in their little striped trousers! The kids loved riding on the backs of these gentle animals with their unique fur. And despite our donkey’s habit of nibbling at everything that passed under his nose rather than walking on (we had a great laugh), it was a special moment!
DAY 4: A short trip to the Baleines Lighthouse
We were heading to Saint-Clément des Baleines, on the tip of the island, to climb to the top of the lighthouse of the same name. But before that, we took the time to visit the lighthouse museum. The funniest thing about the place was the appearance of Jamy, host of TV programme C’est pas Sorcier !, in the educational videos that go with the exhibitions. Hearing his voice was a real blast from the past for us parents!
We then climbed the 250 steps, the kids running ahead of us to reach the top of the lighthouse. From up above, the views were spectacular – Île de Ré, the ocean in front of us and, because it was a clear day, we even caught sight of Île d’Oléron in the distance. Magical!
DAY 5: A visit to a salt marsh
During our holiday on Île de Ré, we couldn’t pass up the chance to explore the salt marshes that are so typical of the region. So we got on our bikes once more and headed to Loix to explore the world of the salt marshes. When we reached the ecomuseum, we made a beeline for an exhibition (complete with models) that retraces the salt marshes’ history and explains how they work. But without a doubt, the most interesting experience was stepping into this natural setting ourselves, guided by a salt merchant. It was a magical scene! With the beauty of the salt ponds glittering in the sunlight, the birds who had made their home there (I think I spotted some egrets) and the flora that flourishes in the salt marshes, it was an unforgettable moment.
DAY 6: A day to lounge around on the sandy beaches of La Couarde
Holidaying on Île de Ré means enjoying its beaches. We fancied relaxing on the beach and a few dips in the sea. So we headed to the beaches of La Couarde-sur-Mer, a few miles away from our campsite. We had a lovely day in the resort, with its run of sandy beaches that can be reached on foot. We started on Follies beach, which is ringed by wild dunes. While we basked in the sun, the kids tried to catch a bit of seafood. In the afternoon, we moved on to Pergola beach to admire the exploits of its surfers. The kids left with a few ideas for next year’s activities!
DAY 7: Sea fishing in Rivedoux
For the last day of our holiday on Île de Ré, we gave in to the kids, who wanted to try and catch some seafood at low tide near to the Chauveau Lighthouse in Rivedoux. It was really nice to feel the sand between our toes and dip them into the little pools of sea water as we looked for shellfish as a family. We left the pools weighed down by clams, cockles, winkles and razor shell clams. This fresh haul would make our last dinner on Île de Ré a feast fit for a king!
And just like that our stay was over – a week passes by quickly when you’re on holiday on Île de Ré.