Long golden shorelines empty of people, dunes scattered with long grasses and flat, round pebbles, the sound of the Atlantic crashing onto the beach, welcome to the Île de Ré.
This tiny island, just a few kilometers from La Rochelle, is the darling of chic, wealthy Parisians and touring gourmands. It is blessed with plump crustaceans, a wealth of fat, briny oysters and it’s own hand-harvested, internationally exported delicacy: Fleur de Sel.
This is the place where the beautiful people sit on the quayside of the charmed capital, St Martin de Ré, sipping ice-cold glasses of Chablis, whilst dining on plates of fat langoustines glistening in the hot sunshine, their large Chanel sunglasses perched atop their well-coiffured heads, incurably clean, stripy Breton tops and strappy heels slap their well-toned ankles as they artfully glare at one another whilst sucking out the fat, white flesh from their grilled and buttered crustaceans.
Chic boutiques line the stone clad streets, artfully arranged lobsters, organic breads, gourmet cheeses and fine saucisson array the stone slabs in the covered market. In the small port, gin-palaces adorn the water while envious mortals stare down at the fibre-glass boats as they take long licks of their sweet caramel fleur de sel ice-creams. It is indeed French heaven and all yours for just nine Euros, curtsey of the toll bridge.
In need of fresh salty air and escape from the family head-quarters we flung some trunks, a tent and the children in the car and went in search of our own piece of heaven. At the north of the island we found a small campsite, nestled next to a spectacular beach, seemingly untouched by human hands. We spent several days there holed up beneath some pine trees, the sea just yards away. Every morning and evening the tide went out leaving myriads of rock pools perfect for the children to poke and peer, however the waves were to big for swimming.
On our last day we went in search of the perfect beach and found it in the south, next to the village Le Blois Plage en Ré. Far more gentle, with a long sweeping beach and shallow waters the children up and down the coastline pottered and played well into the late evening sunshine.
Bonsoir Île de Ré.